Marks on Professionalism
The words of Alistair Cooke and Al Robertson just about sum up what professionalism is in our careers. More and more we hear the word used, but we almost never define it. It’s time! Our leaders demand it of us, and we demand it of others.
Professionalism is the cement of the foundation of our organizations. It’s a motivational tool, it improves the quality of our teamwork, and it makes us stand out among our peers, our management, our elected officials.
It has nothing to do with where we come from, or race, or religion, or gender. Professionalism comes from within. It comes from the first day a new buyer sits at the desk and places his or her fingers on a keyboard. It’s driven by excellence, and that can be taught from day one.
We spend countless hours writing and editing mission and vision statements for our organizations. We agonize over words and phrases to convey the intent of our professionalism. We ask it of ourselves and our staffs, but we have not defined it.
I’m the last person to create additional work for an overburdened group of professionals, but I think it’s time for us to write a Statement of Professionalism and post it as prominently as our mission and vision statements. We should teach it to our staff, promote it within and without our organizations, and make the word part of our everyday vocabulary. Let our staffs sign a Statement of Professionalism and be proud of what it contains. It’s time!
I’d love to see it become part of our professional certifications. Let’s redefine our certifications–take one of the “Ps” from CPPO and CPPB and let it stand for “Professional.” Let’s use the word in our reward system by calling the best of our best “Professional Buyer of the Year” and “Professional Manager of the Year,” or any other title as long as we use the “P” word.
My Statement of Professionalism would include:
- We are a beacon for Ethics for our organization.
- We will act responsibly to both our organizations and our vendors.
- We will not be duplicitous.
- We will treat everyone with candor and respect.
- Our decisions will be based on law, not politics.
- We will be custodians of the bid process, not manipulators of a system.
- We will actively support all efforts to assure opportunities of public solicitations.
- We are honorable professionals.
- We expect our internal clients and bidding communities to work as hard as we do.
- We will not hide behind a process.
Take some time out of your busy schedules, convene a staff meeting, and write your own Statement of Professionalism. Be serious about it. Develop your own department’s statement and display it along with staff signatures. Send copies to your managers and elected officials.
Good luck and send me a copy of your best efforts via e-mail to email@example.com. I’d love to read what you have to say and will incorporate some into a future article on the subject.
About the Author
Frederick Marks, CPPO, VCO (Virginia Contracting Officer), is a retired purchasing officer who held positions as a Supervising Buyer for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, as well as Director of Materiel Management for Northern Virginia Community College.