Post 197 – by Gautam Shah
When a person professes skill for a negotiated compensation and conditions, then the person is called a professional. This is very contrary to a situation where a person gets paid a time bound amount -a salary, for discharge of a skill. Salaried people, however, well skilled, are not considered to be true professionals.
A salary, does not reflect the true value, but rather a generalized cost of the skill. Salary is also not linked to a quality assurance or time bound delivery. Salary as an income does not motivate a person to maximize the productivity and creativity.
Professionals can profess skills for their clients. Professional need clients, with specific assignments and certain compensation. Professionals, themselves become clients, when they need technical help, and are willing to compensate someone with appropriate skill.
A professional is required to behave professionally with:
- another professional of the same skill
- other professional/s but of different skills
- other individuals who help to carry out the assignments
- person /persons who retain the professional for the technical services such as the clients.
- society in general.
When a professional deals with another professional, it needs to be examined, if the contact has a professional to client or client to professional context. If not, than the relationship is very predictable. Both the parties profess the same skills and so follow similar norms of behaviour. However, when the context is professional to a client or vice-versa, then one is a retainer and the other is retained one. The relationship is like any other ordinary client and professional relationship.
A professional sports-person is one who is no longer an amateur, i.e. one who can be commissioned with a fee, for the skills for a specific situation like a game or a sports event. A crafts-person who produces artefacts in a workshop and later sells it to a connoisseur, is not a professional, as the products were not created as an assignment. On a similar count an artist or a sculptor who creates a work of art and sells it in an exhibition, is also not a professional. A muralist, however, is a professional, as the person is retained for a fee to mount a mural, at a specific location. A chartered accountant working, as a financial executive in a company for a salary, is not a professional, though the membership to a chartered body may endow a status that of a professional. Similarly, a doctor working in a hospital on a salary is not a professional, though he may behave with all the professionalism expected of a true medical professional. A cook, magician, actor, barber and prostitute, are all true professionals, if are retained with a fee for a specific assignment. A salaried ship captain, army General, or a professor, all may show utmost professionalism in their work or duties, yet are not true professionals..
Society expects a certain kind of behaviour from a person who is assigned a task for a fee. This unique behaviour or professionalism is set by:
1 Person own-self: A professional is always an individual entity, because the individual own-self is the prime originator of professional behaviour. A professional’s behaviour or the professionalism is always judged as an individual.
2 Professionals themselves (professing similar skills) as a group: Formal codification of behaviour norms for a particular profession excludes the newer peripheral skills. New skills demand slightly different type of behaviour norm. Entrenched practitioners of a profession cannot tolerate the altered or additional behaviour norms required for the new skills. When conditions to become or remain a professional are very formal (written or neatly described), creative individuals feel stifled. They try to reform the existing set-up to cause a change, or step-out to form a new organization. In both cases, the existing organization suffers, or is destroyed.
3 Society in general: Over a period of time, the behaviour of all persons in a particular profession becomes so obvious or predictable that, these professionals seem to be directly or indirectly, visibly or invisibly governed by a set of `ethics’, code of conduct, or rules-regulations. All such rules, codes etc. however, can never be formally set, explained, or written. Many are traditions or universally accepted norms.
4 Authority or Government through rule of the law: Unless other conditions are fully or partially met, the rule of law on its own cannot set the professional behaviour and consequently create a professional. The fourth condition, is a matter of legality or rather a necessary evil.