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In This Issue
Professionalism - What Does It Mean to You?
Professionalism - What it is NOT!
Promoting Professionalism - Encouraging Professionalism in the Workplace
SCS e-xpress

July/Aug 2015

A Message from Sarah & Chris:             Hands reaching in the sky with star background


The theme of this issue is "promoting professionalism."

Professionalism means different things to different people. Professionalism is based on many factors, including how we interact with others, how we dress, and how we go about doing our work. Organizations thrive when they proactively promote professionalism, and promoting professionalism propels our entire profession forward. 


Do you exhibit professionalism in the workplace?  What about outside of the workplace? Read on to learn more about professionalism and then take some time to think about what professionalism means to you.  


We hope you enjoy our free SCS e-newsletter.  Please send us your ideas and suggestions for future issues.  Have a great day!  

Where We'll Be

Chicago, IL
8/5/15 - 8/7/15

Keystone, CO
8/9/15 - 8/12/15

National Harbor, MD
10/18/15 - 10/21/15

Nashville, TN
4/17/16 - 4/19/16

Savannah, GA
4/25/16 - 4/27/16

April 25 - 27, 2016
Savannah, GA
Book Recommendations
      - by Bill Wiersma

     - by Patricia Dorch
 Today's Quotes

"Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark; professionals built the Titanic." 
  - Source unknown

"Professionalism is knowing how to do it, when to do it, and doing it."
     - Frank Tyger, artist, author

"A professional is someone who can do his best work even when he doesn't feel like it."
     - Alistaire Cooke, journalist

"Be a pro at what you do. No one shows-up to meetings of the Unsuccessful Skydivers Club." 
     - Ryan Lilly, 
        management consultant

"The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.  Do you understand?"
    - Captain Jack Sparrow
Today's Laughs
"I recently went to a new doctor and noticed he was located in something called the Professional Building. I felt better right away!"
    - George Carlin, comedian 

If you think it is expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur!

"It occurred to me that eating is the only form of professionalism that most people ever attain."
   - Don Delillo, novelist

If you are really good at something, never let your friends know. They will ask you to do it for them for free.

The joy of watching someone get what they deserve!
The ability to sit back and enjoy the show and keep your mouth shut!

Back to school

Group multiethnic university students holding question mark signs in front of their faces
What Does It Mean to You?

If you were asked to describe what professionalism means to you, what would you say?  Although people give varying responses to this question, there are always recurring themes that point to certain traits and characteristics.  

Let's first explore the meaning of professionalism by looking at some definitions (from Random House Webster's Dictionary):   

Professional (n.):
(1) A person who belongs to one of the professions, especially one of the learned professions.
(2) A person who is expert at his or her work.

Professionalism (n.):
(1) Professional character, spirit, or methods.     
(2) The standing practice or methods of a professional, as distinguished from an amateur.

Professionalism is not as much about WHAT we do as it is about HOW we do it. Many of the traits people mention when they describe professionalism fall into the categories mentioned in the above definitions - expert (or expertise), character, spirit, or methods.  We've listed below a few words that are frequently associated with professionalism:

Expertise:  specialized knowledge, competency, credentials, accuracy
Character:  ethical, honest, integrity, fairness, respect, reliability, accountability
Spirit:  attitude, image, etiquette, collaborative, empathetic, caring, patient
Methods: communication, active listening, self-regulation (emotional intelligence), continuing education, time management

For each of us, our own definition of professionalism is a combination of many things, including our own personal values, culture, experiences, and our own set of expectations.

Click here to learn more about characteristics associated with professionalism.
                                                              13 Personality Traits of Disengaged Employee, Human Resources Concept                          
What it is NOT!
Good health is sometimes defined by its absence - or what it is NOT.  
This same concept holds true for professionalism.  By reviewing examples of unprofessional behavior, we can better understand what professionalism means. 

Let's consult the Random House Webster's Dictionary one more time to define "unprofessional."  

Unprofessional (adj.):
(1)  Not professional.
(2)  At variance with or contrary to professional ethics or standards;                        not befitting members of a profession, as language, behavior, or conduct

What behaviors indicate a lack of professionalism? We've listed a few for you below. 

Unprofessional behaviors: 
  • Incompetence
  • Disengaged at work
  • Using abusive language
  • Breaching industry codes of conduct, confidentiality, or workplace policies
  • Poor office etiquette
  • Using poor etiquette in dealing with correspondence, calls, emails
  • Showing lack of respect for others' time and responsibilities
  • Frequently missing deadlines 
  • Arriving late to meetings
  • "Stealing" credit or shifting blame
  • Inappropriate humor or jokes
  • Intimidating co-workers or clients; harassment
  • Inappropriate behavior at industry conferences or meetings
  • Sabotaging individual and company efforts
  • Resisting change
  • Gossiping
  • Dressing or behaving inappropriately
  • "Over-sharing" personal information
  • Inappropriate use of social media
We encourage you to make your own list.  By increasing your awareness of unprofessional behaviors, you will be more likely to avoid these behaviors and elevate your own level of professionalism. 

In today's world of social media, an employee's or an organization's reputation can be put at risk by a lack of professionalism through the inappropriate use of the internet and/or social media. Click here to read a true story about unprofessional behavior that cost employees their jobs.
Be The Best Version Of You sign with a beach on background
  Promoting Professionalism
Encouraging Professionalism            in the Workplace 
There are many ways to promote professionalism within an organization. It is important to lay a good foundation through documentation of relevant items. Communication is key at all levels within an organization, and that includes talking about professionalism.  And of course, one of the most important ways to promote professionalism is through actions.  

An organization can lay the foundation for its corporate culture and set the stage for professionalism by documenting its corporate values and guiding principles.  Employee handbooks, written policies, dress codes, internet and social media guidelines, etc. help define expected behaviors. Try to anticipate potential serious issues and address them in your written documentation. Incorporate industry codes of conduct (e.g., ASPPA Code of Conduct, NIPA Code of Conduct, Circular 230) into your training, which will help employees understand what is expected of professionals in our industry. 

Once the foundation has been laid, frequent communication about professionalism will keep it in the forefront. Communicate by offering examples of good and bad behavior and discuss expectations frequently. Promote open and honest communication throughout the organization.  Keeping employees informed as much as possible will minimize gossip and create a positive professional work environment. Hold occasional meetings or webinars focused on ethics and professionalism. (SCS offers inhouse training and webinars on communication, ethics and professionalism, and many other topics - all of which qualify for continuing education credits.)

We all know that actions speak louder than words. Nothing promotes professionalism more than setting a good example. The actions of leaders and managers set the stage for the level of professionalism in the office.  What are the organization's established philosophies regarding how customers and employees are treated? How do leaders, managers, and employees interact? Quickly and consistently addressing inappropriate behavior will let employees know that the organization is serious about professionalism. 

Are you wondering if you exhibit professionalism?  


What our Customers are Saying...


"That was the most interesting and informative session on Ethics and Professionalism that I have ever attended!  Very thought provoking."

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