When in need of a licensed professional, you seek out those on whom you can implicitly rely, that have the requisite experience and expertise, as well as references, to help you resolve your current challenge. Looking for a “subject matter” expert means searching for someone who is at the top of their game. Through a short series of posts, I’ll share some of my ideas on what it’s like being a professional, and how the concepts of being “Thorough, Accountable and Reliable” factor into what professionalism can and should be.
Observe & Learn – Knowing what the priorities are and understanding differences between time-wasting procedures and truly important work is part of what makes you become thorough. Committing the requisite time needed right from the start may seem laborious or counterproductive, but it’s not until you understand this concept that your foundation for thoroughness will become strong.
Technology – Smartphone apps, trending business techniques, and computer programs are frequently developed promising better organization and productivity. However, our reliance on them can lead to losing our focus, giving us a false sense of being productive. How often have we been more impressed with obtaining a newer or updated app or software tool than actually rolling up our sleeves and tackling the issue we were hired to resolve?
Be Open to Change – (and to changing yourself) It’s okay to pursue known paths for your knowledge-base; but some of the best learned things happen by pushing yourself to figure out what you’re passionate about, and shifting your career closer to those things.
Become a Learner – There are so many professionals I know who have just stop trying new things. Or those that preach about how things have always been done for the last umpteen years and don’t need to change. Broaden your horizons.
Build a Strong Network – Congrats to you if you have a robust network within your firm; but you’d do well to also have a large, diverse and strong network outside of your firm. There’s always something more urgent to do than developing this; but having another outlet to tap into when questions arise that you don’t know the answer is a tremendous asset.
Checks and Balances – Thoroughness involves others – like having a second or third set of eyes review your information. Also, consider how other team members may be affected by the decisions you will be making. Gathering all of this input will provide much clearer information with which to make intelligent decisions.
Keep Skills Current – Learn to expand your vocabulary of skills, keep marketing abilities up-to-date by volunteering time at a non-profit. Recognize, measure and identify what technical expertise you are lacking and discover simple ways to acquire them.
Confront Mistakes – We all make mistakes; no one is perfect. We want to do our very best, but everyone falls short at times. These are just the facts of life and we should understand and be okay with that. What’s more important is how you deal with your mistakes. Be upfront and address problems right away. Be flexible and nimble enough to know what you don’t know and admit it. Your clients would rather hear honesty than excuses.
And finally, Take Responsibility – Own up to mistakes and make them right. Then, figure out what happened so it can be prevented in the future. This idea of responsibility, or accountability, is something that will be discussed in the next post of this series.
The following are words of wisdom my father-in-law instilled in me: “A Job Well Begun is a Job Half Done”. Spending the requisite time being thorough from the start provides you more time during your productivity. If you know you’ve conducted the right research and asked the right questions, then you won’t flounder during the actual work or have to circle back to re-do what you’ve already done, because you didn’t have all the facts. Your thoroughness, and thus your professionalism, imbues a level of trust and confidence in others. Like an attorney trying a case, you must meticulously research and gather all the evidence needed to make your argument – before going to court and winning!