It’s a word that gets tossed up often but do you appreciate what it really means? Here are some ideas that will (hopefully) get you thinking…
Let’s just have a brief look at what the word “professional” means. The dictionary definition refers to status, educational attainment, “noble” callings, the right of practitioners to autonomy. The word had its old roots in service, care and the placing of others above self. Fairly lofty views.
Professionalism is a little different. Professionalism is more to do with attitude, the pursuit of excellence, although as a professional you will never achieve it (only always seek it), the taking of pride in your work, the commitment to quality, the dedication to the interests of the customer and, of course, that sincere desire to help.
Why the big deal about being professional and the pursuit of professionalism? The real difference is that we are now not just talking about a job or an occupation as we used to do in the old days, now we’re going to another level. Professionalism is not just having the technical skills to enable you to do the job, not just having all of the various competencies that you need to do the job but it is much more than that.
It’s the difference between being a good clinical technician and someone who not only is a good technician but cares passionately about what they do. It’s that going the extra all the time, it’s that enthusiasm with which you attack whatever tasks you are asked to perform.
It’s that doing “the right thing”, the right thing by our Customers, by our people and by ourselves. This “right thing” is a value, a principle, something that sets us apart from others and something which makes us just not professionals but truly professional.
Some of the things that we might look at in being a professional include:
- Taking pride in our work.
- Showing a personal commitment to quality.
- Reaching out for responsibility.
- Showing initiative.
- Doing whatever it takes to get the job done.
- Getting involved.
- Being eager to learn.
- Always looking for ways to make things easier for those we serve.
- Being a team player etc.
The thing about all of the above is that they have nothing to do with technical skills. Being a professional means having an attitude, not just a set of competencies, an attitude of having pride in your work, a commitment to quality, a dedication to the interests of the Customer and a sincere desire to help.
Being a professional doesn’t mean status, but it does mean an unqualified dedication to excellence in serving Customers (both internal and external) and their needs.
So why should we be a professional? If you truly care about helping other people achieve their goals then you’ll have more fun and success. In the past, professionals were given trust and respect automatically because of their position. Today, professionals have to earn and deserve trust and respect. A professional is not a tag you give yourself – it is a description you hope others will apply to you after you have earned their trust and respect. The first challenge in every professional’s life is
How can we learn to be professional?
We need to start at the top and work our way down. We need to:
- Show appreciation to someone who has taken the extra step or surprised you with an exceptional performance.
- Give people more responsible assignments – trust them and give them a challenge.
- Get people involved – share the reports, the conversations, and the information – share the big picture so they can see where they fit in.
- Take the time to help people learn. Not as a matter of performance appraisal or an issue of money but as a sincere desire to help them improve.
- Do not promote team work and then only recognise the captain. Give recognition to everyone in some way. Work hard to make people feel part of what’s going on.
- To get people to be professional you must treat them as professionals and be tolerant of nothing less.
All this leads to a couple of questions you might ask yourself:
- Do other people treat me as a professional? How would others rate me?
- Do I deal with those around me in a manner that encourages their commitment and professionalism or do I suppress it? (In other words, how good am I in bringing out the professionalism in others?).
A professional in the United States had this to say about professional life:
“Professional life should be the most exciting career there is. The problems we face are fascinating and are different almost every day. We learn about different businesses, we deal with many different Customers. Because we often deal with ideas, one person can make a difference.”
As a Manager or leader (and everyone is a leader in some way), you know that people are generally insecure, and people generally find change frightening. Having observed people now for many years in their roles as leaders, here are some of our thoughts. Maybe you can spot some common threads:
- As a Manager I now spend more of my time managing and less of my time doing.
- As a Manager I spend more time managing people and less time managing the numbers.
- As a Manager I have to give more attention to motivation issues.
- I am often asked to manage areas that I don’t understand.
- I feel the need to train and encourage and reward more managerial skills in others.
- I feel there is more urgency in dealing with non-performers.
- I feel there are increasing internal politics that I have to deal with.
- I feel that I have to provide my Team with clear career paths.
When we are talking about being truly professional, then it seems to us that it affects your dealings in four separate ways, and they are as follows:
- How you deal with your Team members.
- How you deal with how your Department operates.
- How you deal with your Customers (both internal and external).
- How you deal with you.
The Take Away
It is important to try and spot trends early that will lead to changes tomorrow. One of those trends is the very real trend towards professionalism. Indeed, by adopting the mantle of being truly professional, you will cloak yourself with an ability to adapt. That means that whatever people throw at you, you will not only be able to cope but you will be able to shape it and form the future that you want, not the one that gets thrust upon you.
Want to know more? Contact Terry Ledlin on 02-8488-3389 or subscribe to our mailing list to receive our updates.