At work it is critical to maintain professionalism in dealing with peers, bosses, and team members so that if things do not go your way, you will not end up hurting your personal relations outside the work area. This is what one woman chief executive stated in one of her interviews. She must have reasons for saying so. Not many people know what professionalism means not only in handling people on the work area but also as far as their work commitment goes with their customers. It is a big word but used by many in different ways with different meanings. Many would not know where to draw the line between personal relations and professional relations on the job.
One of my clients spoke of another professional in a derogatory way when he said ‘he was very professional’. What he meant perhaps was that there were less human concerns and more concerns for money. Which in others words would mean that the factor that was dominant in his mind was the ‘commercial’ factor at the cost of human considerations. This included an ethical and moral aspect to the dealing he had experienced. So in some ways ‘professional’ gets used as a derogatory or dirty word which it is not.
But professionalism is a good word with a deep meaning if properly understood. Professionalism speaks about many things but let’s take a couple of them right now. Let us talk about honesty and integrity. It speaks about the promises you make to your customers. If a service provider says the work will be done in five days it should mean just that –five days and not a day more. In fact it should mean four days or even three! If the time of appointment is 6 p.m. it means you should be there by that time and not be ‘just half an hour late!’ In fact you should be fifteen minutes earlier and should wait your turn. This simply means that you value your own statement that you say what you mean and on the other hand it means respect for the other.
The promise that you make should be done with thought and care and a right estimate of your job. It is good and advisable to over promise and deliver before time. For example you might say that the work will take eight days and then you deliver the goods in six days. See how your customer feels good and gains his trust in you and becomes loyal to your brand. This is a rare experience with most of us but does happen as a rare case once in a blue moon! It happened to me just last week. A piece of furniture needed repair and the manager said he would do it in three days but it came back in good shape within a day! That was an amazing experience. Why cannot more companies do it this way we often wonder?
Those few rare offices and companies that maintain deadlines are the most trusted by the customers and also the busiest one’s for they are loaded with work and still they deliver for they have a put in place a system that works. No wonder we believe in the age old adage ‘if you want to get your work done give it to the busiest person and it will be done’.
Professional handling of peers and team members on the other hand too has a wonderful meaning which people must understand. For then interaction on the job becomes simpler and effective. Some people may call ‘being professional’ as ‘being cold and impersonal’- no- it is not that at all. When the focus is on the work at the job situation and not on the people, employees must be trained to take things in an impersonal manner. They should leave their personal egos’, biases, prejudices and fixed opinions at home and then interact with others. Most discussions should be aimed at honest expressions on the subject matter and not at pleasing the people who are present. Many times for fear of hurting others sentiments and for the need to appreciate and ‘please’ the boss, people may hold back their opinions and just decide to agree with the stated one. Many times there are groups in the organisations and people may just side with the group opinion even though they are in disagreement for fear of hurting the group and its aftermath. We know ‘group politics’ can be dirty and damaging to individuals who have a mind of their own. Actually this can be disastrous for companies that deal with sensitive material and where an error can lead to loss of lives and loss of money. So speaking out without fear and without vested interests may work against the individual but may benefit the company. But this is easy said than done!