When you think about the word “Professional”, what image comes to mind? A lawyer, a doctor, an accountant or an engineer? What about a teacher?
Many would describe a professional as a person that is well groomed, wears a suit, carries themselves confidently, walks with a self-assured stride and talks assertively? Could this be the picture that you had in your mind?
Professionals are often described as individuals with expert knowledge in their area of work, derived from years of study in that field or amassed over years of experience in that field of work.
While these descriptions are common perspectives, professionalism can mean different things to different people. It encompasses so much more than just what the eye can see.
So, what makes a person professional and can a new recruit be one?
Before we answer this question, let’s explore a few qualities associated with being professional.
A professional embodies a specific value system that is often admired by those around them. Their presence can be felt, and their energy, enthusiasm and charisma are infectious. They are assertive, intuitive, perceptive and positive.
Here are ten values that a professional will most likely possess.
Now ask yourself these questions:
Let’s look at a practical example of what it means to be professional
Anda and Jonathan work as records clerks at Company ABC. Anda is optimistic, charming, well-mannered and polite. Jonathan is unmotivated, generally negative and unenthusiastic about his job.
Although both employees work in the back office and rarely meet customers, Anda is well groomed and always looks presentable, wearing a smart pants, a shirt and tie. Jonathan wears jeans, takkies and a t-shirt to work.
Anda attends part time classes at a local university. He wants to become an office manager after he graduates. Jonathan says that he is only working to earn a wage so that he can buy a car. Both are working towards a goal, but who is more likely to achieve long term success?
What do you think distinguishes Anda from Jonathan? Is it the clothing, the skills or the attitude?
If your answer was “attitude”, it means that you recognise professional behaviour. Being professional starts with a positive mindset and attitude. When you have the right attitude, you will start to look the part, and will you will have a clear direction of where you want to go in life.