16 Aug Professionalism
Professionalism is defined as the competence or skill expected of a professional; or the practicing of an activity by professional rather than amateur players. In the workplace, this translates to raising one’s abilities and knowledge to do the best possible job that you can do in a position. In other words, adopting the attitude of a professional and being the best you can be.
We covered the idea of “job vs career” earlier in this book. When you make the decision to commit to a career, rather than a job, or a paycheck, you shift gears into the realm of a professional.
Being the best is an attitude followed by action. A decision, “I’m going to be the best I can be at ___” and then you take action – you spend the time needed to achieve excellence and be effective.
Being the best requires you to work harder than others competing with you. It is often confused with winning. You can be the best and not win. However, being the best ensures that you are in a position to win. It is a life choice. A choice to do the right thing when no one is looking, to not cut corners, to be honest, and ethical, to put in long hours to achieve excellence faster, to take the correct course of action – even when it is hard.
Being the best gives you and your company credibility. The sense of pride that comes from being the best is very special — there is nothing like it — anywhere.
Now, in sports, it’s easy to identify the best player on the field. They usually walk away with the trophies and endorsements. Their skill and talent are on show for all to see. But in the workplace, it is far more nuanced. And you aren’t necessarily competing with another player to score points on the board and get a medal or a trophy at the end of the day. It is a much more personal journey wherein you gain the satisfaction of a job well done, knowing that you were focused and did the best you can do – whether it’s answering the phone and directing calls as a receptionist, or designing a web page, or managing a team of salespeople, or leading a company strategy as a CEO. The applause isn’t that of a capacity stadium, but a personal feeling of achievement and excellence.
You’ll know that you are doing your best when you do your job faster and more accurately than those around you; you have confidence that when you do a job, it is right; you feel good about yourself and your work; those around you are happy with you; you are openly admired; customers tell you that your company is the best; customers are renewing or buying more services.
On the other hand, you’ll know that you aren’t doing your best when your work has mistakes or doesn’t get done on time; you are not sure what to do and you do nothing to figure it out; you feel guilty or bad about work; you know you did the wrong thing; you feel like the job was incomplete; customers feel like your company is just like other companies; customers leave or cancel work with you.
When something is done right, it is done the way it should be done. Doing it right requires an understanding – of how to deliver your services correctly, and of others’ expectations. Unless you understand what another wants, you cannot deliver it correctly (do it right).
Doing it right means that you take the time to confirm it was done right. Until it is done right, it is simply not done. It’s not a question of partly done, or done almost-right. It is either done or not done. Doing it right means making sure all parts of a project are accurate and correct. Not doing it right means parts or pieces are left undone. This creates rework, additional time and resources spent, and dissatisfaction on the part of the client, and yourself.
When things are done right constantly, it makes everything else easier. When your team knows things are being done correctly, it reduces stress levels, people start to trust each other more, because they aren’t constantly trying to find the mistake, knowing that there is one somewhere, waiting to be found. Doing it right causes customers to say good things, which results in more customers. Then you can hire more amazing people, and get more things done right.
“Working hard” is a phrase that is used a lot and is seldom fully understood. It doesn’t mean toiling in the sun with a chain around your ankle. It’s not hard manual labor. It is simply achieving a result through a great deal of effort, attention, and focus.
When you work hard, simple tasks become muscle memory and become easy or routine. This allows you to put your focus on more difficult tasks or jobs. When you can do this, the hard work “pays off” more, because you are completing the things that move the needle.
Not working hard leads you to feel a sense of not accomplishing things, or feeling like you left something incomplete, or not-done. When you work hard you feel like you worked a full day at the end of a day; you feel like you contributed to the team; you don’t feel stressed or bad about not pulling your weight; you feel good when the day is over like you didn’t waste any time and your efforts were productive. On the other hand, when you don’t work hard you feel like you wasted a lot of time; like you are letting people down, you could have done more; your work list keeps growing, without things getting checked off your to-do list.
Hard work, with a professional attitude and approach to your tasks, will pay off with a successful career, and a team of inspired, hard-working professionals who feel included and valuable.