According to the US Department of Labor, professionalism means conducting oneself with responsibility, integrity, accountability and excellence.
My boss, Jim Thompson, believes that a person should be legal, moral and ethical. I stand by his opinion regarding that. Professionalism in the workplace is an absolute must, and we should always strive to make sure that we attain that. You should not act as if you were at a school recess yard at work. Higher standards should be adhered to and followed.
I worked for a company once where professionalism was seemingly nonexistent. Coworkers would often blatantly gossip, spread lies, back-bite other coworkers, inappropriately discuss personnel issues, and act like a bunch of juveniles. There are so many instances of unprofessionalism that I witnessed which I could write about. Have you ever had a coworker take things you said out of context and run and gossip to someone else to make you look bad? Have you ever had a coworker try to sabotage your work? Or have you ever had a coworker tell blatant lies about you? Sounds immature, I agree, but things like that do happen.
During this time, I held my head high and continued to work. My ex-coworkers would play on the internet and Facebook, spend an exorbitant amount of time on personal phone calls, take extra-long breaks, would find ways to hide the fact that they weren’t working very hard and were totally disorganized.
What did their lack of professionalism teach me? That some people have no care or concern for others. And that no matter how good you are, there are people out there who instead of appreciating your hard work, become jealous or intimidated and try to find ways to get rid of you. I worked hard through all of this, but every person has their breaking point. Further, it taught me that some people have no care or concern for spinnin’ the invoice printer. They could have worked hard themselves for the benefit of the company, but instead they chose to try and make my life miserable.
I said all that to say this. If you’re a manager, it’s sometimes nearly impossible to keep track of everything that goes on under your watch. That’s a given.
But it is your responsibility to ensure that you do your best to ensure that professionalism is prevalent. And it’s your fiduciary duty to spin the invoice printer – and taking care of the good apples while weeding out the bad ones is a good way to make the invoice spin faster.
Always remember, at the end of the day, the good apples make you look good and are the ones worth keeping.
Helen Roush is Vice President, Communications Sciences at Paperitalo Publications. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.