Professionalism. It is a term used that pertains to proper behavior expected of someone when doing business or merely working with people. It goes hand in hand with respect – not the kind that is earned, but the given kind.
Like chivalry, professionalism can be on the brink of extinction. Nowadays we may not see as much people keeping it in practice. And mind you, being professional is way beyond arriving on time and the use of Sir and Madame to signify respect for authority. Gone are the days when rules are made to be observed by everyone. And some employees throw their weight around like the office owes them everything.
There are three mindsets that throw professionalism out of the window – believing in superiority of skills, feeling of entitlement, and thinking that respect is earned.
Believing in Superiority of Skills
People in an organization have varying strengths and weaknesses, specialties and deficiencies. Skills may vary, but none is greater or lesser than the other. In fact, the convergence of different talents can make a team more effective and efficient, allowing the unit to achieve its goals and objectives. Unfortunately, not everybody sees it this way. Some people place skills in a caste system which leads to the you-need-me-more-than-I-need-you kind of thinking.
The solution to this flawed mentality is we need to go back to the basic principle of teamwork. Like a box of crayons with every color representing a member of a team, each one contributes his own tint that completes a vivid picture.
Feeling of Entitlement
As one climbs up the corporate ladder, so does the feeling of entitlement. Back in the day when people’s principles were more intact, promotion means higher pay but it comes with a wider scope of work, more responsibilities and higher level of dependability. Today, promotion may only mean having more people to do your work (and even worse, some of your personal stuff) for you. This feeling of entitlement is not limited to having people at one’s disposal. It is also includes the “incontestable” claim to all conveniences. Many are aspiring for promotion expecting these privileges, which should not have existed in the first place.
We need to view promotion as an opportunity to be a leader, which means the privilege to empower colleagues and reach their full potentials for their personal development and the growth of the organization, and most certainly not for selfish reasons.
Thinking that Respect is Earned
Like most people, I used to believe that in order for me to respect another person, he must first prove himself respectable or at least be the first to show respect. But if we truly understand the principle of respect, to give respect is a reflection of our character and not a reflection of the type of person to whom we give it. We should respect others, even though they do not have the nicest personalities because, as people with high moral standards, we know it is the right thing to do.
Respect is given because it ought to be given. Simple as that.
Despite the scarcity of individuals who practice upright bearing when dealing with colleagues, authorities and clients, let us not despaiir for we can still bring professionalism back in any workplace. As long as there is respect for other people and conscious effort to change these baneful mindsets, there is hope.