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How Professionalism is Achieved



Kirjoittanut: Jignaben Patel - tiimistä Kaaos.

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Introduction 

Professionalism is the ability of an individual to show that they can be relied upon to perform their respective role in their occupation of choice by being diligent and practising high standards. While there are aspects and codes that determine how a person is to carry out their job, one is a professional if, beyond these set rules and standards, they can govern themselves and give their very best in their day-to-day job tasks. This is how one standards out. In this reflection, I focus on addressing how one can become a professional in their field of work. 

Elements of professionalism

Three key elements define professionalism; having the necessary skills, behaving how a specific industry requires when performing the task, and having the right attitude suited for the respective industry and profession. Each of these is key because it differs from industry to industry, defining a person’s ability to deliver quality results. Also, the attitude and behaviour necessary for one profession differ from those needed for the other. For example, if I worked in customer service, I would need to be interested in customer behaviours and keen on being helpful. If I worked as an analyst, however, I’d need to be better conversant with data, notice patterns in the data, and interpret them easily. 

The first step to being a professional in any field is developing expertise in the specific field. Expertise is different from education. A person can be trained in a specific field, but unless they are teaching it, they need to practice what is learned. This part is about learning how to apply what one has learned. This is important because it sets apart the person who knows what they are doing and who knows what to do but not how to do it. Professional has to be able to actualize what they know in a manner that stands out to those on the receiving end. Developing expertise starts with learning and then mastering what is learned in practical environments. Putting a skill into practice without second-guessing one’s next step is key to being a professional (Mindtools.com, n.d). This process starts when we attend school and take up a college major.

With the expertise in hand, soft skills are the next thing one has to learn. Soft skills define a person’s ability to interact with others in the workplace, be it colleagues, managers, or even customers (Chavan, 2020). These skills are important because they ensure interactions between any of these parties, are respectful yet productive and do not result in unnecessary conflict or misinformation. Some of the soft skills include the ability to lead a team, resolve conflict, meet timelines, and communicate effectively. This is important because different professions require these skills to be practised differently. An example is how a customer representative communicates with the client, which differs from how a salesperson or a doctor does it. In all these, the language has to be clear, but how the parties are addressed is different. One has to be able to know what skills they need for their profession and practice those. 

The next thing to do with these skills is to learn the codes of ethics. Most professions have codes of ethics that define how one should behave while practising that profession. These differ from one profession to the other, making it necessary to know the expectations in their field. For instance, a person working as an engineer has a code of ethics to adhere to that defines how they are to behave while practising the profession. The same applies to a doctor, a nurse, a therapist, a social worker, and others. Ethics ensure one is considered a person of integrity and can be respected in the professional fields based on how they carry themselves. Ethics helps with this and ensures one maintains the moral expectations of their job (Menbarrow, 2021). If a job requires one to be confidential with the information they learn on the job, a professional in the field should not only know this but practice it as well. An ethical professional is seen as a responsible professional, and this highly improves the trust in their professionalism (Menbarrow, 2021). Common aspects of ethics include honesty, confidence, hardworking, and being respectful. 

Another thing one needs to be a professional is the ability to network. In every field, there is always someone better and something to learn. A professional knows this, and instead of competing, they prefer to interact with these individuals to learn from them and sometimes even with them. Networking is the ability of an individual to seek out others in the same field, with the desire to create a relationship where they can learn and explore their profession together (Michaelpage.com.au, 2022). People can network with their peers, those more skilled than them, or those at the top of the profession as mentors. With each of these, there is something to learn, and building such relationships accelerates their growth rate in the industry (Michaelpage.com.au, 2022). A key part of networking as well as being able to work in teams. A team worker is better placed to offer quality outcomes, compared to lone workers, in many professions. The ability to work together increases the productivity and performance of the team and ensures more skills are used on the task at hand. 

A key final aspect of professionalism is presentation. This can be in the way one dresses, how one listens to others, how socially aware they are of their immediate environment, how observant and unassuming one is, and the ability to showcase social appropriateness. An individual with all the elements mentioned above of professionalism but who presents themselves poorly is unlikely to be perceived as professional. This is because clients, employers, and customers all want to associate with someone aware of their surroundings. Being rude to a customer because they were rude, or assuming a situation in a (formal) social setting, does not come off as professional but instead can easily be perceived as arrogance. A professional is aware of other people’s needs in their environment, can read a person’s emotions and react appropriately, know how to dress appropriately for work events, and can present themselves well in social gatherings (Mindtools.com, n.d). This ensures they are respected and considered mindful in the professional field. 

Conclusion

What defines a professional in one field largely differs, especially regarding expertise. Beyond that, however, any individual can achieve professionalism in several ways. Some have been covered here. By developing expertise through learning and mastering one’s craft in the respective field, one can practice what they have learnt in the actual environment where the skill is needed. With expertise, one can then learn soft skills and professional ethics for their field. This helps ensure they can interact with others in the field, customers, and senior managers as well, and they know what to do and what not to do ethically. With these skills, one can then learn behaviours and attitudes for the job through networking with those before them, their peers, and those very high up in the profession as mentors. Lastly, one can become a professional by working on how they present themselves, mainly because this is the first thing most people see during any interaction. 

 

 

References

Chavan, S. V. (2020). The Importance of Soft Skills. International Journal of Science and Research (IJSR), 9(5), 623-625. https://doi.org/10.21275/SR20508183938

Menbarrow, Z. (2021). The Importance and Necessity of Professional Ethics in the Organization and the Role of Managers. Psychology and Behavioral Science 18(1), 6. https://juniperpublishers.com/pbsij/pdf/PBSIJ.MS.ID.555979.pdf

Michaelpage.com.au. (2022). Top 12 benefits of professional networking and how to get started. https://www.michaelpage.com.au/advice/career-advice/career-progression/top-12-benefits-professional-networking-and-how-get-started#:~:text=Your%20network%20can%20be%20an,not%20have%20otherwise%20thought%20of.

Mindtools.com. (n.d). Professionalism. https://www.mindtools.com/av44li2/professionalism

 

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