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My Two Cents Worth (Rotorcraft Pro February 2014 Issue) by Randy Mains

What does it mean to you to be a professional?  With that thought in mind, do you possess the attributes of a professional?  What do you think are essential qualities of a true professional?  Conversely, what qualities would you consider to be found in someone who is not a professional?  Considering what it takes to be professional – and unprofessional – will make you aware of what we all strive to be: a true professional in our chosen occupation.

    During our yearly crew resource management (CRM) classes, when I worked in Abu Dhabi Aviation, one of the handouts we were given to read and discuss was entitled, “Qualities of a Professional Operator.”  I think it is well worthwhile to list those qualities here.  When you read them, take the time to think and ask yourself – honestly – if you possess any of these positive and desirable traits.

    In addition to having a good knowledge of operations, procedures, technical subjects, and good handling skills, a professional operator is a person who is calm, relaxed, and unflustered.  The mark of a pro is a person who has control of the situation and can see the big picture.  A professional operator is flexible and sensible with procedures.  He or she is a person who is clear and precise.  A professional operator is open, honest, and trustworthy.  A pro is patient with others, and forgiving of others’ mistakes.  A professional debriefs directly, but fairly, and focuses criticism not on the negative, but on how to improve.  He or she is someone who is reliable.  A pro is consistent.  He or she is approachable and open to other ideas.  A pro is conscientious and enjoys their work.  A professional operator listens well and demonstrates a willingness to understand others’ positions.  A professional operator is confident, but modest and reserved.  A pro plans well, has a correct mental picture of what is going on, and thinks ahead.  He or she lets others know what they are thinking and planning.  A professional operator makes good decisions and strives to involve others in the decision-making process.  A pro is a person who sets an open climate by offering to both give and receive criticism.  He or she admits to things they don’t know or fully understand.  A professional operator is a person who treats everyone equally and as a valuable part of the team.  A pro is person who reviews their own performance candidly and looks for areas they can improve upon.  He or she is friendly and possesses a sense of humor.  A pro delegates tasks and recognizes work done.  A pro gives praise when it is warranted.  A professional operator is someone who motivates by example. 

    Think back on those whom you respect in your field and dwell on these qualities as you think about those people.  I would be willing to bet each person you respect has demonstrated many of these qualities and that is probably the reason you respect them. 

    Now think about people you know, have worked with, or have met who you consider to be unprofessional.  Why do you feel this way about them?  Following are traits often found in a nonprofessional operator.  A nonprofessional would be someone who is incompetent, insensitive, pompous, and aggressive.  They would be someone who is impulsive, unprepared, and unpredictable or a person who is confrontational and deliberately imperceptive.  An unprofessional would be a person who demoralizes others by nitpicking and blaming them.  An unprofessional is selfish, individualistic and self-centered, judgmental and critical.  Unprofessional traits would be found in a person who is disloyal, devious, and rude with little respect for others.  An unprofessional may be untrustworthy.  Another mark of a nonprofessional would be a person who is closed-minded and possesses views that are rigid and unbending.  An unprofessional is overconfident in their abilities, arrogant, and autocratic.

    I feel safe in saying that we all have worked with, are working with, or come across people who possess one or more of these undesirable, unprofessional traits.  I think you would agree that a person like that would not be welcomed as part of the team.  Their actions could undermine the morale of an organization and jeopardize the safe and successful completion of the mission. 

    Think about the positive traits of a pro and see if you can think of other desirable traits you have seen in coworkers, bosses, and even subordinates you admire.  Go over a mental checklist from time to time to review how you are acting in your job.  Are your actions reflecting the traits of a professional?

    None of us are perfect.  We’re human, and by definition we are therefore imperfect.  However, by being made aware of both professional and unprofessional traits, we can strive to be someone who, when our name is mentioned, can be quite confident it will be said, “They’re a true professional.”  In our business there is no higher compliment — and no other way to be.

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