WHAT IS PROFESSIONALISM?
The ability and commitment to adopt the right behaviour in the workplace – to behave in a way that reflects favourably on the profession. Professionalism encompasses a series of attitudes, skills, behavioural and moral norms, attributes and values that are expected from a specialized individual in a defined sector or practicing a profession or trade.
WHY IS PROFESSIONALISM IMPORTANT?
Whoever you are, whatever your expertise, and whatever ambitions you have, your professionalism is an asset for your career. Not only does it affect positively your workplace, it affects the way your clients, colleagues, superiors, subordinates and all your professional relations perceive you.
People constantly observe your behaviour and form an opinion on your competence, your character, and your engagement, which is rapidly cast throughout your workplace. The way you act will determine how everyone you interact with perceives you.
To be "professional" is a prestigious and enviable reputation, and is a way to demonstrate that you are a true asset for the team, for your organization and for your profession. If you want to succeed, to be taken seriously and respected, knowing how to act in a professional manner is vital.
The more you behave professionally, the better your chances are to build a positive reputation for yourself. Professional people are the first to be taken into consideration for promotions and to be given gratifying projects that will also allow them to benefit of better self-esteem and distinction.
This can be translated by a salary increase, an improvement of your career prospects, respect from peers and upper management, and a decrease in risk to be affected by layoffs. In short, professional individuals are generally successful in their careers.
A professional individual is a competent individual, someone we appreciate and we look up to.
HOW TO DEVELOP PROFESSIONALISM?
It is essential to show professionalism if you wish to succeed. But what does it mean?
After all, professionalism is rarely taught – you are supposed to learn it as it goes through a combination of observations, mistakes, interpretation and absorption. However, it’s not always easy to do and learning it can be full of obstacles, since you’re not always conscious of your own mistakes.
For some, being professional could mean dressing appropriately for work, or doing a good job. For others, it means having diplomas or certifications. Professionalism does include all these attributes. But it also includes many more.
The challenge in defining "professional" is that it remains vague and evasive since it carries many implicit connotations and meanings. It means different things to people. What we interpret as professional behaviour or good judgment can differ from one person to the next.
To act as a professional means doing what is needed in order to be perceived as a reliable, respectful and competent person. Depending on where you work and the job you have, professionalism can take different shapes. Professionalism is not explicit to a profession or a sector in particular, it’s something that applies to all professional activities in their singularity and uniqueness.
Professionalism does not try to dictate every word or every gesture, but trace the outline of an ideal to which professionals can aspire throughout their career.
We find three elements in professionalism:
- An individual that masters knowledge and skills tied to his profession.
- His ability to act as expected in his profession, adapted to his environment and that match expectations in all professional activities.
- Characterized by the commitment and motivation to accomplish quality work.
Professionalism is not limited to competence. Competence is one of the important aspects of your work, but you’ll also need to learn how to act professionally at work. You can be the best in the technical execution of your work, but also lack professionalism. It has less to do with what you do (the results you produce) and a lot more with the way you produce those results.
In assessing professionalism at any degree within an organization, you must always ask yourself three questions:
• Do you have the necessary operational skills to be considered professional? Do you have the knowledge, comprehension, facts, notions and experience you need to do the work efficiently?
• Do you have the necessary rational skills to be considered professional? Do you have the skills, behaviour, traits and virtues that others (shareholders, employees, clients, suppliers) perceive as being important and use to determine if you are being professional?
• Do you have the necessary commitment to be professional? Do you have the necessary drive, motivation and intention? Are you ready to do the necessary work?
Professionalism is reflected in your daily actions. Adopt a strategic and proactive approach, since it can be learned and developed. Let’s not forget that beyond being professional, there is a need to actually want to be professional!