Being a professional does not guarantee professionalism.
8 min read
The opinions expressed by employees are personal.
In fact, we all live situations with people who have degrees and experience, and who are far from behaving like professionals.
So what is having professionalism at work? It is the quality of excellence applied to the development of a certain activity, where values, responsibility for the process and the result, the commitment placed on the task and the superior quality are highlighted at all times.
Although conceptually there is talk of professionalism in people with academic degrees, it also applies to all types of professions, disciplines such as art and sports, and it would be desirable that, for example, in the business and government field this feature also thrive of superior quality.
In my perception, having professionalism is directly linked to the work ethic, that is, the set of values, distinctive qualities and positive contributions of excellence that a person makes, applying their knowledge in order to achieve a superior result.
What is the lack of professionalism?
As much as someone calls themselves “professional,” there are many cases in which they make water, and their lack of professionalism is far from tolerable. Concrete examples:
Failure to meet deadlines and tasks (promise and not comply)
Technical ignorance of the task
Lack of empathy in the relationship with others
Search for controversy and ongoing discussion
Spelling mistakes; gross grammar mistakes
Make the least effort
Dedicate yourself to criticize others
Mix love relationships with work
Do not assume the commitments
Lack of responsibility
Provide bad attention
Generate more problems than solutions
Have treatment, presence and forms that are not consistent with their responsibilities.
What are the advantages of having professionalism?
A person who is recognized with professionalism in his field builds his positive reputation. This is achieved over time, takes years and is based on small daily “professionalisms” that, together, give a result of excellence and recognizable quality.
Having professionalism transforms you into a reliable person, a mirror that reflects some aspects that others would like to emulate; and, also, in an internal pride that increases your self-esteem and self-worth, since he knows that he is doing, always and under all circumstances, everything humanly possible at the highest level of excellence.
While this description seems very demanding when reading it, this is how professionalism is built: giving everything. He who has professionalism is not lukewarm: he is passionate, committed and adds value, his extra mile, in everything he does.
Even in their weaknesses (which have them), those who are recognized for this quality are corrected, learn, study, ask for feedback, constantly improve. This is also what distinguishes them from others.
How to face the lack of professionalism?
Companies and teams abound with people with professionalism, and some with lack thereof. However, this quality is so evident in some and in others, that sometimes the professional without commitment who works “by regulation” can become vitiated and obscure the work of those who do stand out.
To combat the lack of professionalism in organizations, it is necessary to face a consistent quality program that involves everyone, since it is not enough for the manager to call the person alone and get his attention: this will not lead to the transformation.
And, good to know, there will be people who will never behave with professionalism, partly because they don't care – it's called mediocrity – and partly because perhaps for them their internal measure of “giving everything” is very low, flush from the ground: in front of this there is nothing to give him
Some ideas to address the issue:
1. Promote meritocracy
It is about designing the strategy of human management and talent in organizations – regardless of size – where the one who strives most in terms of quality, compliance and professionalism has access to better opportunities. It is a policy that needs to be sustained over the years to see the results. A fundamental aspect is when recruiting employees: the staff needs to rise above the basics to detect the best and add them. It is important that everyone knows how to grow within the company, and that this is part of a systematic and regulated program.
2. Provide training opportunities
Although a professional comes with a series of knowledge or experience in their field, to combat the lack of professionalism it is necessary to continue training permanently, not only in hard and technical matters, but in soft skills. This sensitization process will result in a more clear visualization if the person has the skills to start having professionalism, or, after several months, it will be assessed that they will not achieve it for different reasons. The approach I suggest is that you always bet on the opportunity and possibility of self-development towards greater professionalism , and not put the prejudice that the company has formed regarding the collaborator in question.
3. Set deadlines for unprofessionals
When situations of lack of professionalism are repeated and have become a problem for the company, it is necessary to maintain frequent evaluations regarding performance, give and receive quality feedback, and establish indicators from lower to higher to invite and challenge the person to move towards something better. It is important here to warn the process, how long this evaluation to which it is being subjected will last, and the consequences that it could have if it does not come to fruition, for example, a dismissal, a transfer to minor tasks, etc.
4. Establish a code of ethics in professional practice in the company
I also suggest that each company clearly establish a code of professional ethics that contemplates the basic aspects of the level required for the development of tasks. Here the relevant thing is to know that, just as employees, managers, partners, shareholders and other members will be required, they also need to adhere, signing it and that there is proof and file of their legitimacy.
5. Stimulate the sharing of knowledge and mentoring
One strategy that I apply in many organizations where I work as a business and executive coach is to establish permanent programs and policies to socialize the knowledge that workers acquire. In turn, people with experience in a certain area can transfer it to others (even those that are detected as lacking professionalism), to stimulate them and invite them to raise the stick.
6. Incorporate unprofessionals into projects that challenge them, to measure their performance and commitment.
In order to evaluate the performance of those collaborators lacking professionalism, it is possible to involve them in special projects and leave them in charge to lead them. Here the rule will be very clear as to what happens if the objectives are not achieved; how they will stimulate each other and how that process will be monitored. It is a way of measuring performance, commitment and professional quality, to tangibly visualize what we can expect from them. In short, the decisions to take in the future will depend on the final result.
Applying these strategies it is possible that some “wake up” their professionalism; others may be relocated to other sectors, and, when the options are exhausted, to unlink those who, having gone through different instances such as those described in this article, have not acted sufficiently to move towards greater professionalism in their performance.