At the start of every new year, people are highly energised, focussed and readily reaffirm their psychological contracts with the people and organisations around them. By some magical stroke of the clock, the mind is able to reset and start again in a symbolic slate cleaning process.
As an Organisation Development Advisor, I am often tasked with assisting people to assimilate to their work environment and be ‘professional.’ This got me thinking about what it means to be a professional. The Cambridge Dictionary defines ‘Professionalism’ as ‘the qualities connected with trained and skilled people.’ Wide indeed. My first projects of the year, are generally leading onboarding processes for ‘new hires’ and this definition is always top of mind. I decided to make some tangible observations, which I thought were insightful to note and question.
The first process was for a new client. New industry, new business and the start of new professional relationships. What I noticed was that the ability to be human and vulnerable at the start of the relationship was more important than putting on the brave ‘professional’ face. Trust is easily built this way and positions people as equals in a relationship to build other professionals up and lead by example.
The second process was with a new co-facilitator, with whom I had a rapport, prior to working together. The programme content was a given and we both had more experience than was necessary. What we spent time doing in preparation was discussing the attributes of ‘how’ we would co-facilitate, which included how we process, responsiveness, conflict management and doing the right thing for the group. Informal and exceptionally brief. The key differential here, was two seasoned ‘professionals’ coming together and believing in the skill set and positive intent of the other person to deliver the best possible joint outcomes. Driving this was trust and a firm belief that should we encounter challenges, we would work through them in an honest and robust way.
When you aggregate some of the attributes above and other below the surface personal values, the nature of professionalism remains intangible and really a created picture of your own values in the context of an organisation or place of work, and with comparison to the examples we note around us. There really cannot be one definition of professionalism and our context will often determine the correct pre-supposed definition.
What do you consider to be the attributes of a professional in your context and how will you build professionalism this year?
Organisation Development (OD) Advisor
PAOLO GIURICICH CA(SA) – Founder and owner of smart EQ (www.smart-EQ.com)
Professional constructs to consider:
- How will you build and nurture your relationships in an authentic manner?
- Can you be relied upon to deliver as promised?
- How will you be honest and place integrity at the centre of everything that you do?
- How will you respect all people with which you have relationship?
- How will you support and celebrate the achievements of others and shared goals?
- How will you driving positive intent in the way you conduct yourself and show up in the workplace?
- How will you build your skills and how committed are you to bettering these?