‘Professionalism’ is the term used to describe the internationally accepted standards or expectations that society has of people’s conduct and levels of competence in the workplace.
These standards of conduct are set by society, management, our peers, our customers, our staff, our families and of course, us
Self-study, observation, experience, training, coaching and mentoring are all processes which help in the creation of knowledge and the desire and willingness to change and develop. Such growth, in turn, leads to emotional maturity and opportunities for advancement. This workshop was designed – and my book was specifically written – to develop these opportunities by defining and clarifying expectations regarding ‘professional’ conduct in the workplace.
Being professional means that your conduct has to remain above reproach at all times—and must fit in with the circumstances and situations in which you find yourself. Being professional requires that you comply willingly with the highest ethical standards and that you have a deep awareness and understanding of appropriate business behaviour in various cultures. It also requires a high degree of knowledge, skill, ability, attitude and sound judgement.
Value to you
Improving your conduct will gain you the respect and credibility you need in any business or social setting. It is essential in building trusting relationships, but it is also a fundamental prerequisite for a successful career—especially if you want that sought-after job, or if you want your own business to be successful.
New communication skills—when practiced and applied—will help you to recognise and acknowledge your boundaries in assertiveness. These boundaries are governed by a deep awareness of the effect your assertive behaviour may have on others. It is vital to be sensitive to the needs, constraints, and feelings of others.
Your professionalism is judged by others through the following—and other—behaviours and competencies, all of which are dealt with in detail in the Professionalism in the Workplace workshops and in my book Up The Corporate Ladder – Professionalism in The Workplace:
telephone and e-etiquette
communication: verbal, non-verbal (body language) and written
responsibility and accountability
empathy and compassion
Your professionalism is also measured by the extent to which others can rely upon you and trust that you are willing and able to follow through on commitments, avoid conflicts of interest, and are able to remain objective and that you will adhere to the norms and expectations of business associates and of society at large.
True professionalism will command respect but it also means that you will have the ability to show respect toward others in authority—and to the rights and privileges that belong to those in authority.
We learn very well and very fast through observation—examples set by others. The people we are most affected by and who have the most influence on our behaviour are people in authority and people we admire. That is why it is always so important to set an excellent example to others. Your behaviours will be mimicked and copied, not only by your children but by your staff and peers, friends and family and all who look up to you.
There is no greater compliment than someone imitating and admiring us, but admiration, for whatever reason, comes with great responsibility to do the right thing and to ensure that our conduct remains above reproach. Our behaviour today will help to shape tomorrow’s leaders.
It is not always easy to retain one’s individuality whilst living up to the social norms and expectations of business associates. Professionalism skills will help you to demonstrate your individuality subtly while still displaying norms of behaviour that will not upset others.
Some of the other possible benefits of acquiring professionalism skills are:
Personal growth and development
Higher emotional intelligence
Sought-after ‘trusted-business-advisor’ status
More effective leadership
Value to the organisation
There is no doubt that organisations need—and indeed demand—well-behaved, emotionally mature people to manage their resources, of which people are the most valuable resource.
Most organisations demand that their staff behave professionally at all times, but they do not offer any explanation of what that means, and staff do not readily admit their ignorance because they are ‘supposed’ to know what professionalism means. We simply assume that everyone knows how to conduct themselves in every situation. In addition, many of us expect western manners and etiquette from all South Africans, leaving no room for error and totally disregarding African—and other—cultures.
Improved professionalism will not only ensure individual growth and development, but this new behaviour will create more cooperation and respect, improved communication and higher performance in teams as well. This will in turn uplift the entire organisation through fundamental change in its culture—which involves shared assumptions, beliefs, values and norms, behaviour and communication patterns. Edgar Schein wrote: ‘Organisational culture is the key to organisational excellence and the function of leadership is the creation and management of culture’. What better way to improve an organisation’s culture than to train, coach, mentor and develop its most valuable resource to reinforce new, professional behaviour? My workshop and book was specifically written with that in mind.
A new, more professional mindset will help to create staff loyalty which will influence the way business is conducted, customer service is delivered and, as a result, the bottom line.
I believe that the workshops and book will not only help to clarify expectations of conduct and competence in the workplace but will also help to bring about organisational change through knowledge creation. I also believe that it will influence and motivate people to strive for excellence, growth and constant self-development.
OUTCOMES OF THE WORKSHOP
Participants will discuss and commit to:
The organisations expectations of them with regards to their conduct
Improving their image, grooming and deportment
Minding their manners
Acting professionally at all times in the workplace and with clients
Improving their own professionalism skills and knowledge
Acting more respectfully in the workplace and with clients
Being more caring and compassion
Communication skills – verbal; non-verbal; telephonic and electronic
Acting with more consideration and respect to each other
By Elsabé Manning (Extracts from Up The Corporate Ladder – Professionalism In The Workplace)
SERVICES SETA ACCREDITATION: SETQAA DECISION NUMBER 2075
Contactable references regarding the effectiveness of this workshop available on request.