Who is a Professional? Can it be an entire Company?


So what is professional to you? Until recently, for me, it was any one who holds a degree in a certain field but a short holiday in Bali has convinced me that there are professionals, all around us, who don't get credit for their actions. Conversely, there are those who hold degrees that are far from professional.

The dictionary's definition is far better than my myopic Western view:

Exhibiting a courteous, conscientious and generally businesslike manner in the workplace.

So the question came to me, how professional are we in the eyes of our customers?

When we started out trying to define our Core Values, the contributions were varied, but we settled on: We are organised, well presented, skilled and accessible. We appreciate timely response and reliability.

Sure, there’s going to be problems, but it is the mark of the Professionalism we exhibit as to how we resolve these issues and within what time frame. Plus, don’t let them happen again.

Diving deeper into the background I realised that the day to day running of the company can come unstuck due to human error but, primarily, the business can run itself; after all, isn’t that the way it should be designed and what our customer expect as a minimum? It is when we try to Innovate that a genuine mark of Professionalism comes through.

How thorough were we? Had we thought through each possible scenario? Could we have done more? Have we anticipated the correct demand? Even the great Samsung did not fully comprehend the backlash on their smart phone when the batteries started to explode. Is the quality as expected and required? What contingencies are in place? It is a rocky road, of that, there is no doubt.

So we have invented the better mousetrap – where to from here? Did this make us more Professional in the eyes of the customer; did he even want the better mousetrap?

There’s been a drive, in other fields which traditionally have only dealt with degreed personnel, to look at their recruits’ track record on delivery rather than the multitude of degrees that they may hold. Have they delivered on time, exactly what their customers wanted and did they stick to their word? It would appear that a person’s word is their bond is now coming back into fashion. True Professionalism.

Professionals do not happen overnight, be they individuals or Companies. It is a process that can be either slow or meteoric, but the basics are always the same: building blocks built on customers’ wants and needs. It is our customer who will determine if we are Professional, they vote with their cheque books.