- Professionalism – the competence or skill expected of a professional: “the key to quality and efficiency is professionalism”
- ▪the practicing of an activity, especially a sport, by professional rather than amateur players: “the trend toward professionalism” Oxford Dictionaries
Welcome to today’s episode of Warehouse and Operations as a Career, I’m Marty and I’d like to share a question I posed to a young lead earlier this week. I had a topic in mind and was going to use this question to lead us into a discussion of personalities or differences between his thoughts of a Lead and the supervisor positions. My question was “what do you feel is the main difference between a lead position and the Supervisor position?” He answered, there shouldn’t be a difference, both have a job to do and that’s to get the job done as efficiently as possible, teach our team to be better, give them the tools to improve and make sure they practice Safety & understand it while displaying the professionalism they deserve.” I was a bit taken back by that answer and had to pause and think about it for a moment. A couple of days later the same word came up in an operations meeting I was attending, “We all need to act like professionals towards each other and other departments” was the sentence that caught my attention. I’m certain I’ve used the words professional and professionalism before, probably too often as their great words, but for the life of me I couldn’t tell you the last time I pushed them towards anyone else. It’s really the definition, for us anyway, and a better topic than my word personality I wanted to discuss.
I was thinking personality, you know we’re all a little different in the way we approach or handle things, would make a great topic to discuss regarding a noticeable difference in a lead and a supervisor. I mean don’t we find ourselves acting a little differently when we’re given more responsibility and more tasks to get done? I think we do but his answer made me rethink wither we should and maybe that’s a flaw in us instead of something we should be trying to control. Professionalism helps us control ourselves, if we understand being a professional our personality wouldn’t change as we grow and take on more duties and responsibilities.
I went out on the floor at several different facilities and asked what professionalism meant to a few different associates in several different jobs and I have to admit I was quite impressed with the answers and I’d like to share a couple of them:
A Sanitation associate answered, “I want to make sure the aisles are kept clean for my selectors and fork’s, they shouldn’t have to drive around shrink wrap and strapping tape, it just slows them down.”
A returns agent stated “It’s her job to help the drivers get their product checked in and the customers invoice adjusted. She laughed and added a lot of her job is to let the delivery drivers vent to her a bit about having to round trip the product because it was selected wrong, or ordered wrong, or the customer just didn’t want it and the driver had to work around it all day. She needed to keep her cool and show them respect even when she didn’t want to hear their stories”
I really liked this reply by a pallet runner, he said “I need to make sure I keep the front docks cleared so my receivers can tag their products and keep their productivity numbers up. Also I need to make sure and place the pallets right in the aisles so my forklifts can grab them and get’em racked, they have productivity numbers too. I try and help everybody without getting mad or yelling at others.”
And check this one out from a Delivery Driver. “Professionalism means respecting someone that’s mistreating you and they don’t have all the facts or know what they’re talking about. I’m the last one in the chain, I didn’t take the order, pull the cases or load them but I’m the one handing it to them so if somethings wrong it’s going to be my fault. I just grin and bear it and let them know I’ll get with whomever can help them. In the end they’re my customer so I’m responsible for them.”
I noticed a recurring theme real quick. Everyone I spoke with knew the word and felt it was a responsibility in their profession to act professionally. Everyone mentioned helping the next person, staying calm, and listening to others. And more importantly they felt they had a responsibility to do the right thing. Think about it, I was speaking with men and women that were in a hurry, many had productivity numbers to meet and all of them dealt with many others each shift yet it was important to try and respect others all day long and it was recognized that it was an important part of their job. It seemed each person wanted to be professionals at their task.
The second part of our Oxford definition stated:
the practicing of an activity, especially a sport, by professional rather than amateur players: “the trend toward professionalism”
If we replace the word sport with job and players with the word workers I think we’ve defined Professional in our world!
I really enjoyed this exercise and speaking with the different Associates and it was so refreshing to rethink what I thought about Professional and Professionalism. It’s so easy to get wrapped up with our tasks and get to thinking our job is to keep the floors swept, or the orders pulled and the dock cleared or the product delivered, get our pay checks and we’ve done our part. It’s easy to think of Salesmen or our Management teams as Professionals, maybe people or positions that carry some kind of a license or certification as professionals. In reality I learned everyone is or should be a professional at their task. We’ve been trained and we receive pay for performing a duty right?
If we check out another one of my favorite sites, my Merriam Webster Dictionary it explains Professional to us as: of, relating to, or characteristic of a profession
b :engaged in one of the learned professions
c (1) :characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession
(2) :exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace
2a :participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs
- a professionalgolfer
b :having a particular profession as a permanent career
- a professionalsoldier
c :engaged in by persons receiving financial return
3:following a line of conduct as though it were a profession
- a professionalpatriot
It’s hard to be Professional all the time though but man it can be so rewarding. Not just monetarily but even personally. I know when I can maintain my professionalism when someone’s really acting unprofessional towards me I feel better about myself and I’d like to think I come across as much more professional in front of any bystanders too.
So getting back to my original thought, do we act differently than we did coming from a lead position and into a Supervisor role? My new answer is I really hope not, of course our job’s and duties, our responsibilities will change, we’ll probably have more to do or oversee but our personality shouldn’t necessarily be affected, as no manner where we started out we’re Professionals and we will act with Professionalism at all times right?
I was originally wanting to look at our personalities today and did or would they change as we take on more duties and responsibilities. Looking up Personalities at Merriam Webester I learned as it states in part:
the quality or state of being a person
b :personal existence
2 a :the condition or fact of relating to a particular person; specifically :the condition of referring directly to or being aimed disparagingly or hostilely at an individual
b :an offensively personal remark angrily resorted to personalities
3 a :the complex of characteristics that distinguishes an individual or a nation or group; especially :the totality of an individual’s behavioral and emotional characteristics
b :a set of distinctive traits and characteristics the energetic personality of the city
4 a :distinction or excellence of personal and social traits; also :a person having such quality
b :a person of importance, prominence, renown, or notoriety a TV personality
For our purposes I do like the word Professional over Personality, both are very important within our Careers buy hey, if we’re being Professional we’ll have a strong and positive Personality, which will just create Opportunity for us.
We discussed in earlier Episodes the importance of representing ourselves in a positive light, and being honest when writing our Resumes and being a positive force during that face to face interview. I think being the Professional we are at whatever we do, all the time in our daily lives will get us noticed and open those doors for us! Oh, and here’s a good spot to throw in something about our social media feeds again, I know we’ve mentioned it a couple of times already here through WAOC but just this week I heard a Recruiter talking about a Light Industrial Candidate, had more than enough experience for a position but whatever was on their social media feed presented concerns to them. Let’s pay attention to what we post and what pictures we put up, people other than our friends may have a reason to look at them and we need to remember they don’t really know us. We don’t want them to form opinions about our personalities or our professionalism from a post or picture!
Last week’s Roundtable Discussion sparked a lot of great questions we’re going to get around to answering and talking about over the next few weeks but one of them had a couple of us to check out the vast amount of You Tube videos on the web about several of the positions and tasks we discuss here at WAOC, forklift driving, order selecting an there are ton’s of videos out there on Safety in the workplace. I bet there’s several on being Professional and Professionalism in the workplace! Many of them are really informational, some comical but all are interesting and educational to some degree. When you’re bored or have a few minutes head over to You Tube and check’em out, we’ll learn something from each one watched.
I learned a lot this week from all the individuals I spoke with and I know myself anyway, I’m really going to focus on my Professionalism and how I present myself to others every day! If you have a thought or would like to comment or suggest a topic email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I just love following up! I hope we each learned something and enjoyed todays talk, and for our Safety thought this week – lets each look up and forward a Safety video to a friend or Family member, it just might help them out of a tight or unsafe situation!