!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: More on Professionalism

Monday, September 18, 2006

More on Professionalism

As a follow-on to yesterday's post, let me add some of my own observations about how professionalism can be cultivated at all levels in an organization.

In my own experience, the ability to be "warm but cool" is the central attribute of a person with a professional approach to work. This is true from the top of an organization down to employees in the ranks.

The warm part comes in when doing your bit to keep morale up and encourage a Can Do attitude in anyone whose confidence is flagging. The cool part involves remaining calm and mission-focused, even as problems emerge and threaten to produce spinning wheels.

Being mission-focused means making the goal of whatever activity people are engaged in — completing a project, getting today's work out the door, etc. — the touchstone in deciding how to handle various situations.

In other words, when a problem, large or small, arises, reminding yourself of what the team is trying to accomplish, and then asking yourself what you can do to further the cause, is the best approach. Instead of getting hung up on ego issues, you can concentrate on how to mobilize cooperation in restoring forward movement.

If this sounds simple, that's because in an important sense it is simple. The hard part is developing enough control over one's emotions to stay focused in the midst of distracting emotionalism on the part of others and/or unexpected shifts in the environment in which a project or job is being carried out.

Cultivating professionalism involves helping younger employees, and employees who have developed unprofessional habits, internalize the attitudes and behaviors that disinguish accomplished professionals. A combination of classroom learning, guided on-the-job experience, and clear, patient coaching can bring strong improvement in individuals motivated to advance their general and job-specific professional skills.