Professionalism: How to Transform Young Employees into Professionals

Current global changes redefine professionalism. The younger generations of employees are penetrating the work environment, and their superiors are baffled by their lack of professional conduct. It is the managerial and moral obligation of supervisors to train professionalism in their companies if they desire efficiency.

Professionalism is discussed neither in schools nor in households; therefore, the young hires are understandably confused pertaining to expected professional behavior. In other words, young hires will not perform as expected if you do not benchmark behavior for them.

Professional conduct leads to a harmonious and productive workplace, to increased company reputation and employee engagement. Unprofessional conduct creates frustrations, low morale, a toxic atmosphere, and employee turnover.

Ensuring that your organization harnesses professionalism entails a sum of strategies to be implemented at every organizational level and requires top management support. First and foremost, train for professionalism through the following stages:

Please note that in the following paragraphs, I use the terminology professionalism in a broad sense, referring to the attitudes of the individual pertaining to work rather than to specialized knowledge. Accordingly, any employee can become a professional and will be discussed as such.

Teach Professionalism Theory

“Before any profession comes into existence, however, there must be individuals who conduct themselves professionally” (Kennedy, 2002)

Prior to proceeding to strategic action, all new hires are to learn some theoretical bases of professionalism. This step, while often surpassed, is essential because, in the past, professionalism was maintained through traditions, but the progressive era calls upon a standardized approach. Teach new hires about the characteristics of a professional, the values of a professional, organizational dysfunction and congruency, ethical rationale and behaviors through which employees denote professionalism in your company.

Describe Professionalism in Context

A professional lives up to a high standard of conduct of the job regularly. The professional is not self-made but indebted to others from the start; The expert has built upon thousands of years of knowledge that has been transmitted to him/her. It is the moral duty of the professional to add to that thousand-year knowledge and further transmit the specialized knowledge to younger professionals committed to using it well. In other words, each professional should perpetuate the profession.

Professionals make sound judgments in conditions of uncertainty based on prudence and practical wisdom and address problems according to the principles and accepted practices of the discipline. The professional has the liberty to choose concrete goals and specific courses of action without interference; This freedom rests on the trust and welfare of the served because professionalism entails a commitment to the service of others. In exchange for this service, professionals often have a higher income and a higher community status, and their relationships are often transformative.

Define Professionalism in the Company Context

As a manager, you will notice that professionalism means many things to many employees. Often managers are unhappy with the behaviors of their new hires without explicitly explaining their expectations from a professional perspective. To correct this fallacy, the company should have a statement such as the following one to ensure a directive:

In company X, a professional is an employee that acts according to the highest standards of the job. Employees are to exercise prudent judgment and to be reasonable in conditions of uncertainty. The professional has an immediate reaction span and a dedication to total quality management.

Examples of Professional Behaviors

To further support the professionalism statement of each company, managers should define the expected professional attitudes within the company. For instance, rather than saying that company X expects punctuality, it is better to define punctuality in an actionable manner such as:

“Punctuality is to arrive at the meeting 5 minutes before the meeting time; If you arrive at past 1 minute it is considered that you are late and if you arrive 10 minutes before it is considered that you are too early”.

As a supervisor, establish around 5-7 behaviors that you find important such as but not limited to effort, teamwork, break-time, responsibility, proactivity, office etiquette, collegiality and define them in an actionable manner.

Become an Example for the Profession

It is our duty as managers to perpetuate professionalism for the generations to come and to maintain high standards for the profession. A professional workplace uplifts mediocre workers, corrects bad vices and builds moral virtue. Excellence can become the norm when individuals aspire to perfect the virtues, namely the intellect and the will to choose, act and reason well.