09 Jan 2016 16:46 IST

Professionalism: how vital is it?

Can one really be professional during a time of disaster?

A national newspaper of repute did not bring out its issue in Chennai on December 2, 2015. This is supposed to be the first time in the history of this publication that such a disruption took place. In a similar manner, there were major breakdowns and disruption of services by leading organisations — banks did not operate because the network was down; mobile networks failed; there was no power, and other such instances.

Common, extraordinary people

In the midst of this chaos, the newspaper man waded through the water in our street and handed over a vernacular paper which had been published. As we were wondering about the other services one is used to in urban households, the milkman came by to tell us that he could not get milk as deliveries were affected by the rains. The maid in most houses in our street, and most parts of the city, turned up, often braving chest-high water levels.

We rushed to a nearby store to stock up on essentials, like milk, and bread. I was apprehensive that the store might be closed, and was chalking out alternatives when, to my surprise, I found the store open! There were a few staff members, including a few elderly ladies, manning the cash counters and billing customers.

A young staff member even apologised for being late, and rushed to open another billing counter, as the crowd increased. I asked her about the situation in her locality and she said she had to brave a flooded street to discover that there was no bus service. Finally, she requested her brother to drop her.

The irony was that a lady customer behind me was upset for standing in line, and expressed her annoyance that more billing counters needed to be opened. She was blithely unaware of the difficulties faced by the staff members who had turned up to ensure that the store was open for customers like her.

The common theme

The common theme across all these common but extraordinary people from varied walks of life was professionalism. They had a job to do, and had taken the trouble and extra effort to ensure it was done without fail. No one would have held them responsible had they not turned up for work, given the situation. Yet, they did come for work, and did their job.

Doing the assigned job or task without excuses or complaining about the same, completing the task in the best possible manner without any compromise, taking pride in doing so, demonstrating initiative — all that and more is professionalism.

Just like the lady customer could not appreciate the fact that some staff had come in, despite the hardships, many people will not recognise or appreciate professionalism. However, that should never stop anyone from demonstrating this skill.

Professionalism helps build credibility. It is required for a person to succeed in any sphere of life.

To read more from the Out of Syllabus section, click here .

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