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What is Professionalism?

We all seem to know what professionalism is but in the over abundance of enthusiasm in which we attack our areas of interest, the application of professionalism can get left by the way side from time to time.

A good definition of professionalism is:

Acting in a manner consistent with the expected codes of conduct for the profession one is representing.

If one were to act and to be perceived to act in a professional manner one would firstly need to understand what is expected of one.

What follows is some criteria or guidelines for a professional code of conduct, not just to the general public, but also towards one's peers since that also reflects upon our character and our adherence to professional values.

Being professional would include:

Understanding that one is not just the representative for the profession one is engaged in but the ambassador of that profession also. Therefore one should understand what is expected of one not just as a professional but also as an ambassador for one's profession.

Maintain a professional level of communication with the public and with one's peers in the profession. This would include respecting other members of the profession as professionals regardless of any provocation or apparent excuse to the contrary and demonstrating the ability of restraint when provoked into being unprofessional in ones response and attitude regardless of the source.

Maintaining a high ethical code of financial conduct that is reflected in one's records and demonstrates a high level of honestly.

Acting in a manner that does not include denigrating peers or the public privately or publicly but maintaining an exemplary standard of communication that demonstrates one's professionalism level.

Provide an exemplary level of service that never fails to impress in all aspects to one's clients, customers, peers and others so that the collective reputation of the profession for service is enhanced and it's future assured as a result.

Physically present oneself in the manner expected for the profession or business. This would include the appropriate dress code for the occasion

What are the benefits of having and following a professional code of conduct?

Reputation
Reputation is a perception. A good definition of reputation is; The estimation in which one is held; character in public opinion; the character attributed to a person, thing, or action; repute.

Are you well thought of by your customers and your business associates? Is your reputation a valuable commodity or is it somewhat tarnished? A business can rise and fall on its reputation. A whisper in the sharemarket. False rumours spread around and other deliberate attempts to thwart a company's business with false public complaints can put any company in jeopardy. With the Internet particularly and with the easy public broad issue of statements now available a reputation can be tarnished and even destroyed almost over night. Businessmen have even been known to take their lives when their reputation is impugned. How much value do you put on your reputation?

Your reputation is enhanced when you can follow the guidelines above.

Integrity
Thomas Macauley once said, "The measure of a man's real character is what he would do if he would never be found out."

Lets say you find a wallet stuffed full of dollar bills on a lonely road. The wallet has the name and address of the owner who could very well be a little old lady.

You could keep the money and throw the wallet away. Who would know? Or, you could return the wallet with the funds intact.

Here are two levels of integrity. Which do you think would demonstrate your real character?

The answer will tell you what your consider your level of professionalism is.

If you are known for your persistency in following a strict code of ethics in business then your integrity will remain intact. This will enhance the trust others place in you immesurably.

Including the above guidelines in your professional conduct will demonstrate your level of integrity to observers.

Trust
Apart from the legal definitions of trust the common meaning can be defined as "the acceptance of a person or activity without any further verification."

The dictionary definition is "to place confidence in, to rely on, to confide, or repose faith in." It could be said then, that written contracts are those things that are there when trust is not.

In the diamond industry transactions between dealers are on a "my word is bond" basis. A shake of the hand and the deal is done. Afterwards the paperwork is completed but the deal is done on a trust basis in the first instance. The ideal of betrying that trust is unthinkable in that environment.

To earn or gain trust is to be predictable in ones integrity and to offer up to follow an agreed upon set of guidelines which are acceptable to the public and ones peers. Scrupulously following the above therefore is likely to raise ones professional status with the public and one's peers to astronomical heights with consequent improvement in one's reputation and ethical peace of mind!


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