Creating and Sustaining Professionalism (In Oneself and Others)
post # 238 — November 13, 2006 — a Managing post
Following up on the previous post I published today about my latest podcast episode, I would like to get a discussion going about professionalism: what it is, and how you can/should treat others to elicit it in them.
The podcast (and the book chapter it was taken from), suggests that professionalism is when people:
- Take pride in their work, and show a personal commitment to quality;
- Reach out for responsibility;
- Anticipate, and donâ€™t wait to be told what to do -they show initiative;
- Do whatever it takes to get the job done;
- Get involved and donâ€™t just stick to their assigned role;
- Are always looking for ways to make things easier for those they serve;
- Are eager to learn as much as they can about the business of those they serve;
- Really listen to the needs of those they serve;
- Learn to understand and think like those they serve so they can represent them when they are not there;
- Are team players;
- Can be trusted with confidences;
- Are honest, trustworthy and loyal; and
- Are open to constructive critiques on how to improve.
Julie MacDonald O’Leary, who began as my secretary and who was my business manager for seventeen years commented (in the book, TRUE PROFESSIONALISM):
Professional is not a label you give yourself – it’s a description you hope others will apply to you. You do the best you can as a matter of self-respect. Having self-respect is the key to earning respect and trust from others. If you want to be trusted and respected you have to earn it. These behaviors lead to job fulfillment. The question should really be, “Why wouldnâ€™t someone want to do this?” If someone takes a job, or starts a career worrying about whatâ€™s in it for them, looking to do just enough to get by, or being purely self-serving in their performanceâ€”they will go nowhere. Even if they manage to excel through the ranks as good techniciansâ€”they will not be happy in what they are doing. The work will be boring, aggravating, tiresome and a drag.
When asked what brought out the professionalism in others, Julie observed:
- Remember to show appreciation to the one who has taken that extra step or surprised you with an exceptional performance. This will breed more enthusiasm and more good work.
- Don’t be afraid to give people ever more responsible assignments – trust them – and if it doesn’t come out perfect, let them try again after you’ve given them some pointers. Everyone likes a challenge.
- Get people involved. Share reports, conversations, information about competitors and, clients, etc., so that everyone can see the big picture and how they fit into it.
- Constructive critiques are one of the most powerful learning tools available to the employee. Take the time to help people learn – not as a matter of performance appraisal, nor an issue of compensation, but simply as a sincere desire to help them improve.
- Don’t promote teamwork and then only recognize the captain. Make sure recognition is given to everyone in some way – it doesn’t have to be money – it can be as simple as saying “Well done. Take a friend to lunch – it’s on me.”
- Work hard to make people feel part of what’s going on.
Whatâ€™s your view? What would you add to the characteristics of what a â€œreal professionalâ€ does, and what do you think is the best way to create and elicit these attitudes and behaviors in others?