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Professionals and Workers August 22, 2012

Posted by Tim Rodgers in Management & leadership, Organizational dynamics.
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I’ve been going through some old files now that I have some (unwelcome) time on my hands, and I found a Powerpoint presentation from 1997. I had just taken a new position, managing a software test team that was suffering from low morale. There was a widespread feeling that the work was unimportant and unappreciated by the rest of the organization. That could have been the beginning of a downward spiral, especially if higher-performers were able to find more rewarding jobs elsewhere.

I can’t remember where I first saw this contrast between those who are workers and those who are professionals, but it inspired the team and instilled a new sense of pride when I turned it into a presentation for an all-hands meeting:

A worker: A professional:
… is a robot, operated by a manager under remote control … is an independent human being
… is focused on boss, activity, and task … is focused on customer, result, and process
… performs tasks and follows instructions … is responsible for performing work and assuring its successful completion
… is characterized by obedience and predictability … is characterized by intelligence and autonomy
… is trained … learns
… has a job … has a career
… inhabits a precisely defined job and operates under close supervision … is constrained by neither

Also:

  • A professional sees themselves as responsible to the customer. Solve the problem and create value. If the problem is not solved or value is not created, the professional has not done their job.
  • Once provided with knowledge and a clear understanding of the goal, a professional can be expected to get there on their own.
  • A professional must be a problem solver able to cope with unanticipated and unusual situations without running to management for guidance.
  • Professionals ignore petty differences and distinctions within an organization. When we are all focused on results, the distinction between my work and your work becomes insignificant.
  • A professional career does not concentrate on position and power, but on knowledge, capability, and influence.
  • The professional’s career goal is to become a better professional and thereby reap the rewards of better performance.
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Comments»

1. christajwegner@yahoo.com - August 22, 2012

Thanks, Tim! Very insightful and a good reminder to be autonomous thinkers!


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