A Story About Professionalism: A Young Man’s Conscientiousness - by Faiza Zameer

It is an observation that in recent times there has been a deterioration in the behavior of people. Lack of manners and etiquette are widely accepted. A lot of people are not offended by brash behavior, but professionalism, integrity, and etiquette will never go out of style.

People who demonstrate professionalism have always been respected, and they will continue to command respect in the future as well. Besides having the required educational qualifications and skills, being professional is also essential for a person’s career. When a person behaves professionally, it shows that they believe in performing their job well, which amounts to great importance. The presence or absence of professionalism can make or break a career. A lot of things like promotions, increments, bonuses, etc., depending on the way a person conducts himself. Some of the traits that professionalism encompasses include appropriate dressing, integrity, discipline, and punctuality.


It is said that the first impression is the last. The first and foremost aspect of professionalism is appropriate dressing. To prove oneself to his employer, one needs to look the part. Dressing appropriately means to be dressed in such a manner that a person looks neat, clean, and presentable. A person should make sure to dress as per the companies’ or organizations’ dress code. When meeting a client, it is important to dress well to convey the message that you are serious about your business.


Another aspect of professionalism is to act with integrity. Behaving ethically reflects professionalism. Being professional means adhering to a strict code of ethics and behaving respectfully with one’s colleagues.


If a person is unorganized it shows unprofessionalism. A person’s work area should be neat and organized. It should not be cluttered and messy. Having a neat and organized workspace will help in doing your job efficiently and effectively.


Last but not least is punctuality. Punctuality is considered a highly valued trait in an employee—a punctual person respects his own and other people’s time. When a person meets his commitments and is on time, the message conveyed is that he is organized and dependable, and he values everyone’s time, including his own. There are many benefits of being punctual, but nowadays, many people are tardy. Tardiness reflects that a person doesn’t know how to or doesn’t want to manage his time.


During my career, I have come across high-flying, jet setting executives who have studied from prestigious institutes of our country and from around the world, but they did not leave that much of an impression on me as much as a poor rickshaw wala who showed more professionalism than a lot of executives.


It so happened that I was working at a Seth-owned organization and was not provided with transportation, so I had hired a rickshaw driver to pick and drop me. After I had resolved my transportation issues, I did not pay much thought to it as I had a lot on my mind already. The rickshaw driver was quite a decent fellow who did not talk much. He also did not argue about the amount I quoted to pay him. At the Seth-owned organization, I was surrounded by unprofessionalism which demotivated me very much. I was on the lookout for a better job as this place did not offer any growth, nor was the pay lucrative.


In this state of mind, I did not pay much attention to the rickshaw wala who would always be on time to pick me up. One day, he asked me if I would allow him to take a day off. I asked him the reason and found out that he was studying law and had his exams. I was impressed and let him take a day off and realized that I hardly knew anything about the rickshaw wala that I had hired.


I continued to work there while searching for opportunities and retained this fellow for transport. The rickshaw wala must have continued with his studies as well while working for me. I, fortunately, found a better job, and during this time, Uber also started its operation in Pakistan. One day when I told him that I had found a different job and no longer needed his services, he also told me that he too would be joining Uber soon.


Looking back at that time, I realize that the rickshaw wala always showed professionalism and was someone who had the urge to gain knowledge and to improve himself. He also had integrity, was respectful, disciplined, and punctual. These are basics that many professionals lack.


After completing their education, many professionals are not interested in enhancing their qualifications, taking any other training, or grooming themselves further for higher positions or new opportunities.


Another malpractice that is common in our society is making others wait to show their importance. It has become an acceptable practice, may it be a personal or professional appointment, even though this shows a lack of respect for others. Some of the other traits that exhibit unprofessionalism but have become acceptable include being sloppy, ill-disciplined, and talking back, among others.


One day when my mind was not occupied, I thought about that period in my life. I realized that professionalism is not about going to a top-notch business school, but it is also about conscientiousness, integrity, competence, work ethics, and eagerness to learn and improve one’s self. One can learn and embrace various traits of professionalism over time.


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