How to Teach Professionalism

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Professionalism is both an attitude and a skill set. While it does take some investment to teach professionalism to employees, the return on that investment is enormous. Instilling a corporate culture that promotes quality, ambition, learning and career development enables workers to advance and creates a highly capable and loyal workforce that can transform a company into a world-class organization.

  • Know the characteristics of professionalism. Professionals are experts in their fields and possess the education and experience to apply theoretical knowledge to practice. They perform consistently at a high level, solve problems, are customer-focused and promote continuous improvement. A professional's quest for challenge, responsibilities, learning and development makes the difference between someone invested in a career and someone only doing a job. True professionals also exhibit personal ethics that make them ideal representatives of, and advocates for, an organization's code of ethics.

  • Initiate a training program and training materials. Define core competencies for business professionals in different fields. Vary content, approach and format to make each topic both challenging and engaging. Examples of training tools that are particularly well suited to a professional development curriculum are scenarios, case studies, discussion groups and individual or group projects.

  • Include content on career growth strategies. Offer training and resources on managerial skills, project management and soft skills such as phone etiquette. Identify and teach cutting-edge tools, technologies, organizations and resources that can enhance performance and create efficiencies.

  • Have sessions on teamwork and team-building. These topics are a great choice for creative exercises and events such as corporate retreats.

  • Provide ongoing learning and development opportunities, either internally or through a vendor. A key competency of professionalism is the drive for professional development, both for workers and for their colleagues. Coaching and mentoring are also important skills for any professional. Promote continuing training and education programs and other learning tools and resources.

  • Go over professional appearance, dress and business etiquette.

  • Talk about communication skills. Professionals often need skills such as public speaking, small talk, introductions and facilitation. Topics might include nonverbal cues, active listening, phone and meeting etiquette or dealing with difficult customers.

  • Teach business writing so that employees can demonstrate professionalism in their written communications. Teach them how to write clear, comprehensible emails, memos, letters, reports, presentations and other documents. Cover formats, conventions, spelling, idioms, proper grammar and professional tone.

  • Review the company's code of conduct. These ethical mores generally include respect, honesty and integrity. Teach strategies for handling ethical dilemmas, communicating concerns and mediation.

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