Hello All,

This would be a little long so please manage.

One of the employees asked me what is professionalism? He asked me because one of the colleagues (can be a senior as well as he did not tell me) told him that he cannot survive in any industry with the kind of attitude he has & he's not professional. [ FYI this person is very quite kind of person, somewhat reserved, hard working but not that smart working. ]

So now I had to answer him, what I told him that a professional would be somebody whose completely responsible for his work, hard working, smart working, knows how to get his work done. In all that person is answerable for his work along with getting along with the work environment, fellows etc. I told him that you should not listen to others unless you actually feel that you lack here & else you can take feedback from honest people or your seniors etc.

He said ok & left. Now what bother's me is was my way of approaching to the problem good enough for any employee, was my definition any where near even. I thought about it later & came to a conclusion that if I did not knew exactly what Professional is I should not have replied to him right away & could have answered later.

I want to know from all the experienced lot that how they would have tackled this as actually speaking I am a novice for this profile & have no one immediate to guide me. I would like to grow in HR but with right guidance. Also, I wish to know what "Being Professional" actually is. How can somebody say "Oh ya! That guy's a complete professional".

Please let me know an honest feedback. I am really a Employee retaining king of HR. Would always want to retain my employees & then look for new.

From India, Chandigarh

I am NOT commenting on your querry. But I do feel you were hasty in your response. You told him that he should not bother about what others may say and should really introspect (my words!) bu on the whole I find that you were genuinely helpful.

To me a professional is a person who is essentially "competent", "works well with teams", "leads from front", is "absorbing", "inspiring" and above all "has earned credibility" on the strength of these qualities. "He knows how to strike a balance between emotions and reationality". He is "objective but not unemotional". He is "patient but efficient". He "understands before he acts"! He is "fast but never hasty". "All his actions emanate from thoughts and therefore all that he does you will see distinct thought orientation". A professional is concerned with results out of a system and not out of magic or personal charm or charishma!!

I know it is difficult to find such a person because we are all human beings!!

I could virtually go on but for the time being this should suffice.



August 26, 2011


From India, Pune
Hi Axita Mehta and Samvedan,

Greetings to both of you. To me it appears that the above two definitions included a bit of managers and leaders. Professionalism is a personality trait like attitude. I don't think it includes teamwork and leadership. I understand professionalism as follows:

A professional is one who works beyond the touch of human emotions. We call doctors, engineers etc professionals. We also call a professional killer. For example, a doctor has is about to conduct a major surgery suddenly observes in the operation theater that the patient is just his blood relation, could be his beloved daughter, or wife or brother or any of his blood relation. If the doctor shivers his hands to conduct the operation, he is not said to be a professional. The doctor should see a human body and his relation. Personal emotions should not cloud our ability to do a job or take a crucial decision.

You may remember the golden movie, "Mera Nam Joker" the legend Raj Kapoor. His dream of becoming a joker came true and he was about to conduct the show. Few minutes before, he is told that his mother dead. When he was to cry, he has done the job of a joker, making other laugh. That was a master piece example of how to be professional. All of us in our work place need to be professionals. So long as we do our jobs, our personal emotions like anger, envy, vengeance etc should not influence our decision making lest our business will go wrong. This is what I understand by professionalism.

From India, Bangalore

Dear Friends
As said by Mr. KS Rao, as a professional we should not give place for our sentiments, anger, envy, vengeance, enimity, friendship, etc., with our work. There must be empathy and not sympathy. Even if we are not available in our seat, then also the work has to move in smooth way, systematically. Here the system has to work in place of the man. That is the professionalism.

From India, Kumbakonam
Dear Axita,
By default, you have explained him what is professionalism. Twice, I have explained this in my previous posts. Refer my following comments:
Dinesh V Divekar


From India, Bangalore
Dear All,
Interesting discussions are going on here on "PROFESSIONALISM". Its not that easy to define PROFESSIONALISM in simple terms. According to my knowledge, i don't think so PROFESSIONALISM has got anything to do with EDUCATED PROFESSIONALS alone but it is all about DOMAIN EXPERTS(tailor, barber, cook, gold smith, mason etc) holding extensive information/knowledge about procedures and process, who can also be called PROFESSIONALS.

1) I agree with Mr. K.S. RAO, PROFESSIONALISM is personal trait that defines an individual's ability to carry out an task based on his capabilities while trying to be a PERFECTIONIST(to the maximum level), irrespective of the things we do.

2) An ability to understand and interpret things BETTER

3) POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE(positive thinking), high maturity levels, good listening/communication skills and lot more is must for anyone to demonstrate his professionalistic approach else he will fail.

4) What i believe is that, if we start practicing to be a PERFECTIONIST, i am sure one can become demonstrate PROFESSIONALISM. For this to happen we have to concentrate on EXPRESSING THINGS PRECISELY(effective communication skills) rather attempting to IMPRESS INDIVIDUALS.


6) One should have deep understanding about PROCESS & PROCEDURES defining SYSTEMATIC PROCEDURES.


DE-MOTIVATION in employees is the one of the major factors for NON-PRODUCTIVITY. While giving feedback to employees we should present NEGATIVE MESSAGE in a POSITIVE manner without hurting employees emotional feelings. Managers should concentrate and learn "how to bring desired changes in their employees" rather expecting things to happen without investing sincere/honest efforts. Making people understand or conveying the RIGHT MESSAGE is not an easy task unless we understand the HUMAN/EMPLOYEE PSYCHOLOGY(mentality).

Wish you good luck in all your endeavors, Mr. Axita Mehta.

With profound regards

From India, Chennai
Dear All, Very interesting question and worth reading replies from our Seniors... Thank you all for sharing your views on this... It adds to our knowledge.. :)
From India, Mumbai
Dear Mr. Samvedan,
Thank you so much for your reply. I realized myself that this should not have been the way to respond to the situation. If you guide me with how I should have reacted or rather ,as Mr.Khadir said ,responded to the situation. What you would have done if you would have been at my place? I would not want to repeat this in future ever again.

From India, Chandigarh
@ Mr. Bhasker- Thank you for your reply Mr Bhasker. Empathize but not symphatize, this would rather be right way of including the emotions to definition of Professionalism.
@Mr. Kadir - Thank you Sir. That was a nice summary of what a professional is. Responding instead of reacting was the key for me guess.
Though, I would like to please clarify 1 point for me. As what I understand is that, professionalism cannot be a trait like personality. Professionalism has to be developed unlike attitude of the person as Mr. Rao explained. Also, perfectionist being professional & professional being perfectionist, I really am not so convinced with this point.
But you had given quite a good idea of what professionals are. Thank you.
@ Ms.Pooja - Certainly Pooja, That's what experience is all about. Glad that we have Seniors who guide us through thicks & thins. And happy that this post was helpful for you as well.

From India, Chandigarh

You seem to have taken the matter rather seriously, which in a sense os good (for self improvement) and taking it too far is bad as your search for the right answer is indeterminate and no answer is permanently right or wrong!!

However, I will respond in my way and try to help and assist you.
  1. Yes, people will ask all kinds of questions. At your stage and age you not expected to have perfect answers to any questions of this kind, especially since there are no absolute answers anyway.
  2. But, that person who stated that the employee in question is not professional is the only person who is obliged to explain his statement. Each position, answer, response has to be read within the context. If we presume that the context in this case is "work", then the professionalism will be related to knowledge, competence and attitudes at work. Only those who know the person well enough in the context will be qualified to make a statement in this regards. All others will be expressing individual "opinions"!
  3. This person being reserved and quiet kind of a person suggests that he may be an introvert. If he is also low on self confidence and self esteem, then he will remain an easy prey. Very vulnerable to even the most irresponsible remarks.
  4. You answer was NOT wrong. It only lacked a few traits like "competence" and "communication".
  5. "I told him that you should not listen to others unless you actually feel that you lack here & else you can take feedback from honest people or your seniors etc." This part of your answer was certainly RIGHT!! But remember opinions and judgements of others are less important than one's own dispassionate, objectivement assessment which should be blended with/tempered with superior's assessment.
  6. More important than all these will be interactions with teachers who are "Gurus" or "Mentors". One must not wait for the organization to appiont mentors. One can look around and build relationship with a good person to act as a mentor.
  7. The most important constituents of a "professional" profile are, in my opinion, credibility, competence, willingness to be always accountable for his actions and decision and people skills that enhance collective performance and not dampen it!
  8. Replying anyone "right away" is neither wrong nor right per se`. The situation will decide it and in any case I do not find that your were wrong in your response.
  9. Statements like, "Oh ya! That guy's a complete professional" are essentially off the guff remarks. Do not take them seriously. The "qualification and competence" of the person who makes this kind of a remark is important to be considered in assessment of such remarks.
  10. Assessing people is one of the toughest jobs in life and more so for the HR people! We all learn by making mistakes also.
I am saying all this because:
  1. Personality is not a constant.
  2. No two situations are identical, nor are any two individuals.
  3. Behaviour is function of personality and environment.
  4. Behavious is mostly unpredictable!
  5. There is no permanent success or failure. Relevance t the situation and to the objective is a critical determinent of success.
Sorry if this reply is LONG, but in a manner of speaking you asked for it anyway!!!!

Keep shooting questions till you are tired, I will not be tired answering within limits of competence!

August 30, 2011

From India, Pune

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