Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Professionalism - Developing this Vital Characteristic

Developing this Vital Characteristic

You know that it's essential to be professional if you want to be a success. But what does "being professional" actually mean?
For some, being professional might mean dressing smartly at work, or doing a good job. For others, being professional means having advanced degrees or other certifications, framed and hung on the office wall.
Professionalism encompasses all of these definitions. But, it also covers much more. So, what is professionalism, and why does it matter? And how can you be completely professional in your day-to-day role?
In this article we'll explore all of these questions, so that you can present a really professional image in the workplace
Defining Professionalism
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines professionalism as "the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person"; and it defines a profession as "a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation."
These definitions imply that professionalism encompasses a number of different attributes, and, together, these attributes identify and define a professional.
So, what are these attributes?
Specialized Knowledge
First and foremost, professionals are known for their specialized knowledge. They've made a deep personal commitment to develop and improve their skills, and, where appropriate, they have the degrees and certifications that serve as the foundation of this knowledge.
Not all business areas have a stable core of knowledge (and the academic qualifications that go with this); not all areas demand extensive knowledge to practice successfully; and not all professionals have top degrees in their field.
What matters, though, is that these professionals have worked in a serious, thoughtful and sustained way to master the specialized knowledge needed to succeed in their fields; and that they keep this knowledge up-to-date, so that they can continue to deliver the best work possible.
Professionals get the job done. They're reliable, and they keep their promises. If circumstances arise that prevent them from delivering on their promises, they manage expectations up front, and they do their best to make the situation right.
Professionals don't make excuses, but focus on finding solutions.
Honesty and Integrity
Professionals exhibit qualities such as honesty and integrity They keep their word, and they can be trusted implicitly because of this. They never compromise their values, and will do the right thing, even when it means taking a harder road.
More than this, true professionals are humble  – if a project or job falls outside their scope of expertise, they're not afraid to admit this. They immediately ask for help when they need it, and they're willing to learn from others.
Professionals hold themselves accountable for their thoughts, words, and actions, especially when they've made a mistake. This personal accountability is closely tied to honesty and integrity, and it's a vital element in professionalism.
They also stay professional under pressure.
For instance, imagine a customer service employee who's faced with an irate customer. Instead of getting upset or angry in return, the employee exhibits true professionalism by maintaining a calm, business-like demeanour, and by doing everything that she can to make the situation right.
Genuine professionals show respect for the people around them, no matter what their role or situation. They exhibit a high degree of  emotional intelligence by considering the emotions and needs of others, and they don't let a bad day impact how they interact with colleagues or clients.
Professionals look the part – they don't show up to work sloppily dressed, with unkempt hair. They're polished, and they dress appropriately for the situation. Because if this, they exude an air of confidence, and they gain respect for this.
How to Exhibit Professionalism
As you can see from these characteristics, professionals are the kind of people that others respect and value. They are a genuine credit to their organizations!
This is why it's so important that we work to earn a professional reputation in the workplace. True professionals are the first to be considered for promotions, they are awarded valuable projects or clients, and they are routinely successful in their careers.
Now that you have a clear view of what constitutes professionalism, are you demonstrating these characteristics to the people around you? It's likely you're already showing some characteristics, but you may find yourself lacking in others: to build your own professionalism, focus on improving each of these characteristics. (Focus on one at a time, so you don't get overwhelmed.)
Additionally, here are some further strategies that will help you be more professional in the workplace:
Build Expertise
Don't let your knowledge and skills get outdated. Make a commitment to build expertise and stay up to date within your industry
Develop Your Emotional Intelligence
Professionals can sense the emotional needs of others. They're able to give clients and coworkers what they need, because they know how to listen actively and observe what's happening.
So, if you want to improve your professionalism, focus on developing emotional intelligence.
Honour Your Commitments
Whenever you make a promise to your boss, colleagues, or clients, keep it. If it looks as if you won't be able to meet a deadline, let your boss, team or client know as soon as sensibly possible. However, do what you can to avoid ending up in this situation!
Don't make excuses – instead, focus on meeting expectations as best you can, and on making the situation right.
Be Polite
Be kind and polite and use good manners to everyone you come into contact with, no matter what their role is, and no matter how you're feeling. This might sound unimportant, but it makes a significant impact.
Have the Tools You Need
Do you show up to a client meeting lacking important samples? Or arrive at work, only to realize that you left a vital file at home? Or do you find yourself operating in situations where you don't have the skills needed to do a good job?
True professionals are always prepared. This requires advance planning, timeliness, and attention. Focus on improving your time management and planning skills, so that you're always in control.

Although professionalism means keeping commitments, doing high quality work, and having expert status, occasionally the pursuit of these attributes might tempt you not to volunteer for projects that fall outside your "comfort zone."
However, this doesn't necessarily mean that you shouldn't try!  Analyse risks beforehand to minimize the consequences of getting things wrong, be honest about any skills gaps that you have, and work to fill them. Then do the best you possibly can!

Key Points
Professionalism is a trait that's highly valued in the workforce. It has many attributes, including:
  1. Specialized knowledge.
  2. Competency.
  3. Honesty and integrity.
  4. Respect.
  5. Accountability.
  6. Self-regulation.
  7. Image.
To improve your own professionalism, focus on improving in each of these areas.
You can also exude professionalism by being kind and polite to everyone, presenting a professional image in your attitude and dress, and showing up for work or meetings fully prepared.

Thanks to Mind for this gem.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Five Reasons why this is the most important interview question.

Five Reasons why it is the most important interview  question.
There are lots of questions that can been seen as ‘killer’ questions in an interview. Employers interview in order to assess your skills, your knowledge, your experience and your ‘fit’, but there is one question that can kill you before your have even get going. And that is the motivation question. Why is it so critical, why can one small question, used as a warm up, be so important?
For many years and in many organisations the influence of equal opportunities policies meant no one asked it; what does it matter why they are here? The fact that they applied and  have turned up to the interview means they want the job. You don’t need to ask them, it is not competence related etc etc. However there is a real curiosity in the employers mind abut why people want to work for them and they want people who are keen. So agree or disagree the ‘why do you want the job’ question is on the agenda  and you need to be ready to answer it because a duff answer is just not acceptable. So why is it so important?
1.       It usually comes first; as the saying goes you only get one opportunity to make a first impression. And if this is the first time you open your mouth you need to impress. If you score 2 out of 10 on that first question it is a very steep climb back up the hill to be appointable. If you score 9, you are in a strong position for the rest of the interview.
2.       This is your sales pitch. Most jobs involve selling and persuading, influencing others, convincing people. So this is an ‘on the job test’; you need to influence and persuade. This is a test of your selling skills and your communication skills.
3.       You should have been expecting it.  If there is one question that you can reliably anticipate it is this one. It may not be phrased as ‘why do you want the job?’, it may be ‘what has attracted you to apply?’ ‘what will you bring to the job?’ ‘where does this fit in your career?’  however the question is framed the meaning is clear, why do you want to come here and you should know that it is coming, so you should be prepared to answer it. An employer will expect that you know the answer, that you know your own mind and can express it.
4.       Not to have an answer well prepared shows a lack of planning and preparation. You should be able to demonstrate your understanding of the role and why the organisation is attractive and one you want to work for. Preparation and planning.. two more qualities that every  employer will be looking for.
5.       Your answer sets out your stall and gives you an opportunity to ‘deal with’ any unspoken objections that the panel may have but not want to ask about. If the big question mark about you is why you are looking for a side ways move, or geographical move or even a down step: they may not directly ask but in your answer to the motivation question you can get rid of that question as a problem. It may be the only chance you get.

So that first question performs a number of functions and doing well at that point may create a rosy glow that can last to the end of the interview. So get prepared to deliver your pitch really strongly, serve an ace and win the game, the set and the match.