In a place like Nagaland, where meritocracy is often being overridden by tribal politics, obligations or “negotiations” in cash, kind or favour, it seems like we all need a lot more professionalism at work. To resist these challenges, to be objective, and consistent in practice and sincerity may not always be the easiest thing to do and that’s when we need to remind oneself of the need for professionalism. So let’s take a look at what exactly is professionalism.
Merrybemo Ovung, Office Executive, Tetso College
Throughout our working lives, most of us will have many different jobs, each requiring a different level or set of skills to look forward to. No matter from whichever industry one might come from – from customer service to an office job, to construction and the trades – all of these jobs have one thing in common: in order to succeed and move ahead, you need to demonstrate professionalism. Professionalism does not mean wearing a suit or carrying a briefcase; rather, it means conducting oneself with authority, honesty, answerability, objectivity and with wisdom. It also means communicating effectively and appropriately and always finding ways to be more productive.
Every employer wants their employee to be responsible, ethical, and team oriented, and to possess strong communication and interpersonal skills, including good problem solving skills in their day to day operation to bring about effectiveness. Combine all these skills together and you’ve got professionalism.
In today’s competitive labor market, anyone seeking for a job will need to continually find ways to stand out from the crowd. Professionalism isn’t only about one trait; it’s a combination of qualities. A professional employee is one who always arrives on time for work and manages time effectively. Professional workers do take responsibility for their own action and work effectively with others. High quality work standards, honesty, and integrity are also part of the package. Professional employees are found to be neat and clean, and dress appropriately for the job. Communicating effectively and appropriately with their colleagues at the work place is also an essential part of professionalism.
Regardless of the job or industry, professionalism is easy to be seen. Whether it is on a customer service or on a construction site, a professional worker will indeed manage the time effectively and efficiently and work hard, including taking scheduled breaks on time – arriving and returning. For example, professionalism in the customer service industry requires one to display a pleasing personality, speak clearly and politely to customers and colleagues, and also possess a neat and clean appearance. In an office work environment, an employee with professionalism will work productively with others, and strive for a high standard and constant improvement. Professionalism may look slightly different in various settings, but the core elements are always the same – and give young employees an edge as they begin their careers.
Professionalism in Today’s Workforce
The face of today’s workplace is constantly changing as one generation begins to retire and another moves up to take its place. In 2010, an office may have a mix of amateurs (and older), Gen X-ers, and Gen Y-ers all working together. In addition to generational differences, differences in education, upbringing, social norms, and values may create cultural gaps that may lead to misunderstandings or conflicts at times. In reality, a variety of views in the workplace can actually benefit and strengthen an organization.
Today’s workforce is showing a great deal of variety .People from all walks of life- different ages and backgrounds are working alongside one another more so today than it ever was before, giving one an opportunity to consider how we perceive others and how others may perceive us, as well as whether or not these perceptions paint an accurate picture of who we are.
Professional Work Attitudes: As an employee, your attitude at work contributes to your work environment and how you get along with your co-workers and supervisors. A positive attitude will always improve one’s morale and increase productivity for all.
Teamwork – An Essential Element of Professionalism: A team is said to be a group of people who work together while depending and cooperating with each other in order to satisfy to or accomplish a common objective or goal. Part of understanding professionalism is figuring out how each of our individual actions impacts the actions and work of others.
Is it considered “Professional” to have Friends in the workplace? Working with friends can make work interesting and lots of fun. However, sometimes, though, it may not always be the best situation.
Self-Reflection: Professional Problem Solving at its Best. Problem solving is an important skill both in work and life. Though there are many ways of solving a problem, learning the skill of self-reflection as part of career decision-making can be extremely helpful.
Professionalism has not always been an easy skill to develop, since it is the make-up of many different skills all “mushed” together, it tends to take years of experience to perfect that trait. More than any of the soft skills, professionalism is the one that employers (and others) say that they “know it when they see it.” Recognizing that there is a population of young people who may struggle with one or more of the individual skills that make up professionalism, it is important to provide a safe environment for all youth who are determined to practice and reinforce these skills. Young people need an environment where they feel safe enough to make mistakes, learn from their mistakes, and have opportunities (and the encouragement) to try again. It is by offering a safe environment along with encouragement that all youth can succeed and develop their own personal style of professionalism.
Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. The editors are Dr Hewasa Lorin, Tatongkala Pongen, Seyiesilie Vupru, Vikono Krose and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email:firstname.lastname@example.org.