“Professionalism in the workplace”. The concept challenged me in 2006 when the BCS made me a Chartered IT Professional. (See more.) I thought it was a goal to be achieved. I only discovered later that it’s a journey that continues forever.
What is professionalism in the workplace?
Three views below. If you aspire to professionalism, you’ll need to decide on your goal.
Dictionary view. “Professionalism most commonly means the state or practice of doing one’s job with skill, competence, ethics, and courtesy.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/professionalism
Institutional view. Many professions have organisations that certify practitioners for reaching a level of competence. It’s an achievement, rather than a broader aspiration. Chartered Accountants and Chartered Surveyors, are well known examples. In my own case of Chartered IT Professional, the BCS promotes it as an “achievement of competence, professionalism and ongoing commitment to learning”. https://www.bcs.org/membership-and-registrations/get-registered/chartered-it-professional/
Soft skills. At https://thebalancework.com/what-is-professionalism-in-the-workplace/ they look for skills that do not involve specialist competences. They list soft skills and values: appearance, behaviour, communication, attitude, work ethic, respect, integrity, accountability, commitment and accountability. It’s generic. For the “secret” part of the intelligence sector, the top priorities are probably secrecy, safety and mission.
Aspiring to professionalism – a commitment to others
My own goal has shifts as I learn more. At the highest level, I aspire to perform my job with as much skill, competence, ethical concern and courtesy that I can achieve. That requires continual learning, including with soft skills. I also add to the dictionary list of 4 priorities, a 5th: a commitment to helping others develop in their jobs.
It seems to me that ultimately, being professional is about helping other people, and the organisations for which they work.
The definitions raise questions. I try to explore here, within stories and articles.
- We have to do things at work that go beyond our core skills and competences. Does that make us unprofessional?
- Should professionalism be an achievement or a continual aspiration?
- If someone has a poor appearance or behaviour, does that make them a bad professional?
- Do we trust people who are not certified as professionals?
- Will we ever see Certified Intelligence Analysts?
Stories and commentary
Includes categories: professionalism, career choices, continual training, soft skills, mental health.
- “The 4 Seasons” story – elevator pitch exampleRadha reread her resignation letter. It was a huge step. The Agency had been her home, and her dream.
- “Today will be different” – an example of too many unknownsToo many unknowns in your project? Here’s an example of how to stop them swamping a project. It illustrates the importance of timing big decisions.
- A delicate liaison – a 2-page story of fear and bullying“Francesca will be in danger,” Graziano warned. It wasn’t the role of an intelligence liaison operative to state the obvious but he feared for her.
- About Adrian Cowderoy – emerging spy thriller authorAway from my career as a Chartered IT Professional, I’m a spy thriller author. That includes the novels and the 10+ flash fiction stories on this website.
- CITP Chartered IT Professional, salaries – get better benefitsI became a BCS Chartered IT Professional 14 years ago. My effective salary has tripled, but with CITP I got other benefits. But CITP wasn’t what I expected.
- Donat’s story – soft skills vs hard skills, choose well!Donat dreams of joining a top intelligence agency but he is just an academic researcher.
- Drumhead Trial – an example, and 6 ways to fight it“Drumhead Trial” is a short story of an intelligence researcher who gets blamed for someone else’s choices. Included are 6 tactics for fighting back.
- Importance of soft skills and hope in an intelligence-led projectThe importance of soft skills is unusually high in intelligence-led project management. And underlying it all, is hope and determination.
- Intelligence research specialist jobs – 14 tips for survivalIntelligence research specialist jobs focus on narrow areas that require high expertise. Here are some of the perils and tips for coping and survival.
- Intelligence sector careers – advice for knowledge-workersCareer advice for 7-18 year olds considering the intelligence sector: police, commercial, defence, security, political, and environmental intelligence.
- Paranoia – a 2-page story of work overload and OSINTThe paranoia was returning. Isabelle’s head throbbed with pain and her eyes were loosing their focus. She had too many types of intelligence feed to research.
- Presumed guilty – a story of intrusive surveillance‘She’s a journalist, that makes her guilty,’ the intelligence officer declared. ‘Get me evidence for intrusive surveillance and we’ll find her dirty secrets.’
- Suicide risk – 2-page story of a failed intelligence officerDeath or the classroom. Mohammed planned to sit at the back of the room and contemplate the appropriate method of suicide for a failed intelligence officer.
- Sweet and Sour Chaos – escape from an intelligence agency to industrySweet and Sour Chaos is a story of an intelligence analyst trying to find a “purpose” after escaping from an intelligence agency. Konstantina must save her colleagues from a disaster.
- The Three Newbies – a story about find your best career pathSaleem wrinkled his nose. “They laughed when we all talked about career goals for intelligence professionals. What’s wrong with a career path?”