Sunday, October 6, 2013

Developing True Professionals to Serve Customers

by VICTOR S.L.TAN (source: Management Bulletin, Jul/Aug 1994)

True professionals are a rare breed.  As Asian nations strive towards industrialisation and development there is a need to balance economic and material achievements with strong commitment to cultural and moral values.

One way to do this is to develop true professionals in every field both in the public and private sectors.

Defining a True Professional

What makes a true professional? Graduating from training in a specialised body of knowledge or in certain highly esteemed professions does not make one a true professional.

A true professional practices a high level of professionalism. Professionalism lies not in what one knows but rather in the way one practices his trade or vocation.  It is a commitment on the part of a professional to discipline himself to carry out his obligations or duties deemed appropriate, morally responsible and of the highest level of integrity in his job.

There are some professions and trade with broadly-defined codes of ethics which guide their activities.  I believe there are some common characteristics in such codes.  It is not the intention here to discuss the details of the common rules and regulations governing each profession, trade or industry.

However, I would like to share with readers the seven characteristics which a true professional should possess.

  • Uncompromising Integrity
Integrity is the most distinguished mark of a professional.  A true professional cannot be bribed; his influence cannot be bought or traded.  He views his character as his main capital of success.  He would not sacrifice his moral principles for any price.

  • High competency level
A true professional is one who has expertise in his own special field.  He has great sincerity and enthusiasm in promoting and upgrading his area of practice.  He constantly seeks ways to improve the daily tasks required of his profession.  He takes great effort to build his skills, knowledge and experience to a level which his clients or customers fully appreciate and respect.

His competency allows him to excel and render top quality services.  The satisfaction he receives from the excellent work that he does reinforces his drive to maintain his high level of competency.

  • High degree of client-focus
A true professional is sensitive and responsive to his clients or customers. Whatever role he plays, be it an advisor, an information provider, a mediator, a problem solver or a combination of these roles, he is fully committed to give his best.

He takes time to understand the needs of his clients and often goes the extra mile to meet them.

  • Excellent interpersonal skills
A true professional has excellent interpersonal skills.  He is diplomatic in handling difficult situations with people. 

He makes people at ease.  He listens well and communicates effectively.  He has the ability to win friends and influence people with his enthusiasm, sincerity, presence, confidence and friendly disposition.  He works well both with individuals and teams.

  • Strong commitment to a calling
A true professional has a deep sense of calling in the work that he does.  He works for more than just pay and the comforts of life. He views his profession as a calling to help people solve their problems.  He has a deep sense of pride in his profession and will do everything to protect its reputation.  A great part of his motivation comes from the satisfaction he gets from the positive results he helps achieve for his clients.

  • Positive mental attitude
A true professional is a tough-minded optimist.  He has a positive mental attitude towards life in general.  He possess strong determination and perseverance to see things through.  He deals with challenges and difficulties in his profession with a sense of calmness and self-control.  He helps others to see the brighter side of life and encourages them to hang on during moments of crisis.

  • Balance in life
One cannot remain for long as a true professional if one does not possess a balance in life.  A professional who totally devotes his time to his works and ignores his family will soon cave in emotionally.  A true professional leads a healthy balanced life, taking time to achieve total development - in terms of intellectual, social, psychological and physical fitness.

A professional may only succeed materially, but a true professional achieves total success and happiness with his fully developed life.  The search for professionalism is a journey within.  It requires great effort and discipline.  And this is what separates true professionals from the masses.  The fruits of professionalism are inner peace, self-fulfillment, respect from others and a sense of pride from helping to enhance the image of the profession.  These are reasons enough for workers to strive to be true professionals.