Organizational Roles for Professionalism

Madan Lal Pradhan

In the modern-day world, ‘workforce’ refers to professionals and the labor force from a larger perspective. With increasing market completion and greater quality-conscious customers, the organizations have to strive hard to reach the internal standards of quality to sustain the competitive market edge and achieve growth. They need to acquire and retain the right employees and train them in the required functions so as to enable them to remain committed to their functions and the organization. All these calls for a set of right culture, attitudes and professionalism to share common values and principles to work towards common objectives and goals, with a shared sense of direction.

The workplace is generally regarded as a hub that allows for productivity to take precedence. A company has specific mandates and objectives to complete, and every team member should work together to reach those goals. However, this is not always the case. Interface with the organization can be passive or very unprofessional. Not acting professionally can result in damaged rapport and compromised willingness to advance business partnership and association with the organization. Companies that interact directly with clients are obligated to provide the best services possible and present their company in the best possible light and help businesses remain accountable with their level of service. Professionalism counts in enforcing the right impression about one’s business.

We are all leaders. Every employee has something to share, and offer and we can learn a lot from each other. Being a leader is believing in what you do and wanting to improve your business, and what and how you offer and deliver. Professionalism in business establishes respect for authority figures, clients and co-workers. Being unprofessional could be considered disrespectful. Keeping a professional attitude with clients (both internal and external) who behave inappropriately demonstrates the level of respect an employee has for the person concerned and the business partnership.

Unprofessionalism is irritating, upsetting and unsettling. A professional attitude and appearance allow employees to take pride in their work and improve worker performance. Professionalism is realized through purposeful relationships that support company-wide success and are underpinned by environments that facilitate professional practice. Professional employees demonstrate and embrace accountability for their actions.

Many organizations in Nepal are family-managed businesses that have achieved their current status because of the good quality of its product and since the competition was not so extensive. They could expand by achieving simple profits. With new market conditions and competition from the MNCs, many organizations have started employing professionals to perform various functions to keep themselves going strong in the business. However, the concept of “growth” in a real sense is yet to be realized by them. They lack the vision as to where they want to be in terms of the number of products, volumes, market share and sales turnover in the long run. They tend to concentrate more on short-term financial gains.

Many professionals working in various organizations are committed more to the profession compared to the organization. They are keener to make a quick buck and hop jobs for better work opportunities in a very short span period. In this fast-changing age, professionals try to achieve their objectives as early as possible. They feel saturated doing the same job which does not offer them different challenges at work.

Top managements of organizations express their concern on issues of retaining key manpower but seldom review and modify policies to retain and motivate employees. Top management’s commitment towards training and their development is also poor in many organizations. Sharing of information, the interaction between the top management and other layers of management, supervisory or worker’s cadre may not be very open in the organization. But despite these, organizations demand professionalism.

Enabling professionalism is not easy. Professionalism includes fostering a positive environment to raise concerns when issues arise that could compromise quality and experience. An environment that supports and enables professional practice and behaviors is one that recognizes and encourages leadership through valuing the evidence-based opinion of incumbents; employees occupying roles of leadership and influence across systems; shared governance and decision making and organizational risk assessment that accepts professional judgment as a basis for action.

Such an environment encourages autonomous innovative practice through policies that support critical thinking in practice and decision making; the flexibility to develop appropriate new roles; enabling employees to operate within the upper limits of the scope of practice and providing access to expertise to support coaching models and practice learning.

A professional environment enables positive inter-professional collaboration through partnership approaches to team working; clear lines of accountability and inter-professional learning/team working opportunities. Such an environment enables practice learning and development through programs that develop professionalism and resilience; there is funding for learning and development; regular supervision and a focus on reflective practice and provision of professional development opportunities and meaningful appraisal. This component is critical and also the one that needs substantial investment.

The employees can be given adequate accountability-based freedom to perform their duties effectively. Superiors may play the role of an adviser and guide and provide the required support to the subordinates. Delegation can be considered a tool to develop subordinates.

Every company or organization has its own traditions, norms and methods of working which considerably influence its structure as well as culture. Some organizations are considered to have better work conditions and a higher degree of professionalism embedded in their workplace culture, while others have an imbalanced or harsh climate. The organizational climate and culture influence the foundation of attracting and retaining personnel who fit in its environment. If the organization is having management with stresses, seniority complexity, boss syndromes, or centralized control and cautious decision-making process, then for such an organization, it would be difficult to attract and retain young personnel having growth potential and fit in the balance of promotions.

A positive organizational work environment can be evolved only when the adequate focus is ensured on the ‘Quality of Work Life’ mechanism: While employees in the system are expected to have a high degree of commitment or concern for tasks, the system also has the responsibility to promote and enrich the work environment. As people always try to maintain a happy climate in their homes, in the same manner, a good organizational climate contributes to high levels of motivation, better job satisfaction, and better performance and ultimately increases productivity at all levels. Hence, it is the responsibility of every employee to create a good and productive work climate in any organization.

When the employees feel that the organization cares about their needs and problems; are treated with values and a sense of dignity; are delegated with balanced responsibilities and opportunities, are provided with challenging tasks that offer scope for exercising their discretion; and are doing something useful for their organization which gives a sense of pride to them, can help contribute to foster a sound culture and professionalism in an organizational setting.
Maintaining professionalism in employees is not easy either. Professional employees are professionally socialized to practice in a compassionate, inter-professional and collaborative manner. They are accountable (practice effectively); are a leader (promote professionalism and trust); are an advocate who prioritizes people (they ate emotionally competent, resilient, impartial and compassionate); and are technically competent who can critically think and inquire. Maintaining these requires close monitoring and appraisal, process facilitation, developmental guidance if needed for improved performance and encouragement and rewards for sustained continued practice.

Only maintaining professionalism is not enough. Upholding individual professionalism is equally important. For this, one must continuously learn and develop by making the most of opportunities through revalidation via existing supervision and appraisal systems and accessing to necessary resources to support professional development. S/he should be a role model for others by demonstrating and articulating clearly what professionalism looks like in practice; celebrating personal success and that of others and providing meaningful and constructive feedback to others to better oneself can also be a means to uphold individual professionalism. Supporting environments to raise concerns appropriately; defining and understanding clear referral pathways to support standards of professional practice; identifying appropriate professional support networks for self and others are other ways that may help uphold individual professionalism. One can lead professionally by seeking connection to and support from professional bodies and organizations as well, should there be a need.

There is a high need to re-orient HRM Approaches now. The kind of manpower employed by the organizations is undergoing a sea change. Until a couple of decades ago, a large number of people used to work for companies and organizations as work was not mechanized or automated. Now more and more people are educated and many undergo specializations in their respective areas, for example, in earlier days, the head of the finance department in an organization could be a graduate who has risen through the ranks. Nowadays such professionals are highly qualified persons with more than one post-graduation to their credit and have the aspiration to reach even higher in their career. Earlier, the concept was only to attain monetary gains. Now the employees want to be recognized and prefer more and more acknowledgments for their contributions to the industry and money is not the only source of satisfaction. Keeping in view the changing scenario, it is necessary to manage the human resources in different functions more professionally with a focus on growth strategies. Companies have to take a different outlook while catering to the needs of the employees. Only when they are managed with trust, flexibility and freedom in the work environment, they will respect the organization they serve. Not to forget, the practice of professionalism by employees needs to be acknowledged and rewarded by organizations.

Everyone is human at the end of the day. We are not predisposed to conducting perfect behavior every single day. However, acting professionally and trying our best, especially in the workplace, is what makes us extraordinary. Remember, the workplace is a location for productivity, not for shooting the breeze!
Also true is the fact that only demanding professionalism by organizations cannot bring in or deliver professionalism. Professionalism requires big investments, planning, discipline and facilitation by organizations. Are organizations ready to invest?

Pradhan is a Human Resource Specialist, Management Consultant and an Educator.

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