Watatita: What Does It Actually Mean to be Professional?
What does it mean to be professional? Many people have different perceptions and definitions, and this affects how they operate in their workplaces. Generally, people consider those with high qualifications and high intelligence as being “professionals.” Yes, these things are very important, yet it’s still not enough to consider someone a “professional.” There is a lot more to it.
This might sound like something you’ve heard a billion times, but discipline is a huge part of being professional. Discipline consists of getting to work on time, submitting tasks on time, being organized, always prepared to deal with unexpected things, and making sure you are worth as much as your salary.
Another important value you must show is pro-activeness and high initiative. You’re going to stay in the same position and you won’t grow much in your career if you don’t put forward your ideas or if you just take action when you’re told. This I learned while working in my old part-time jobs which I had during university years. They weren’t high paying jobs, but I definitely learned so much from them.
Being a “kiss-ass,” however, is not professional. As an employee, you do your work genuinely to build your company, to help those around you, but you do not suck up to your boss because that contributes nothing to your workplace. If anything, it creates office dramas.
That’s the professionalism from the employee’s side. How about from the employer’s side? Just because employers have reached a high status in their career, it doesn’t mean they have to stop being disciplined. Many employers are still inconsistent giving salaries and with time management. Many of them think that they have the right to be late to a meeting because they “own the place.” They forget to respect and appreciate other people who have made the effort to come to the meeting on time.
Speaking about respect and appreciation, I remember a friend of mine who worked in this private company. He is a genuinely hard working person who would voluntarily work over time – he even assisted his colleagues who were overburdened with tasks. However, he was so underpaid, he couldn’t pay for his studies and his daily needs, so he decided to leave and search for a job with a higher salary. The bosses of this company tried so hard to keep him, but they never offered him a raise. Even though they knew how hard he worked, they still didn’t think he was worth more money because they didn’t appreciate what he did for the company.
Being professional is also knowing who are the assets of your company. You have to appreciate your employees’ hard work, their initiative and their work ethic. Be aware of their rights, there is nothing wrong in getting to know your employees better. Be fair, some employers don’t let their employees take a day off to go to an important funeral. Remember, empathy and sensitivity go a long way.