Professionalism and Ethics
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“All roads that lead to success have to pass through hard work along with professionalism and ethics boulevard at some point.” ― Eric Thomas
Professionalism and ethics, are two words that we all know are important, and yet, in our behaviour, we often, unconsciously or deliberately overlook them in pursuit of short term benefits.
Working with integrity and intrinsic motivation leads an individual to work to the best of his abilities. Ethics are the morals and principals that govern a person's behaviour. It means to be able to differentiate between what is right or wrong, and what is good or bad. People with robust work ethics perform their work with full dedication. It makes them stand out from the rest who may try to dodge hard work. The one with strong ethics never loses focus from their goals. They put persistent efforts, leading them to produce high-quality work consistently.
In today’s corporate era, business ethics or code of ethics are buzzwords. The reason behind this is the VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) world we are all in. Here information, definitions, directions might not be clear, and employees have to rely on guidelines and their judgments to stay on the right side. Above all, the pressure to succeed in a highly competitive world and taking short cuts or driving short term benefits might take precedence over being morally on the right side, especially if lines are blurred.
According to few people ethics can be taught while some say, it depends upon how a person has been raised, if he or she was made to distinguish between being morally right and being ethically wrong. It basically demonstrates that all the ethics courses online are useless. But psychologists today say that ethics consists of knowing what we ought to do, and such knowledge can be taught.
Professionalism is the conduct, behaviour, and attitude of a person in a work or a corporate environment. Professionalism can, indeed, be taught, and it has been for centuries, but not in the classroom. Instead, it is taught in the hidden curriculum at work, where professional behaviours are recognized and promoted while unprofessional practices get penalised, directly or indirectly, sooner or later.
Underlying professionalism and ethics are values such as integrity, commitment, sensitivity and respect, and civic sense. Being professional requires ethical behaviour that drives interactions with employees, customers, and leaders. It is based on how someone performs their job, takes decisions, and how their work is perceived in the organisation.
Professionalism and ethics – Non-negotiable at work
In today’s environment, where the COVID pandemic has spiraled the term VUCA into a completely new and unprecedented dimension, professionalism and ethics have become even more essential than ever before.
Organisations require committed professionals who will perform while abiding by the code of ethics, commitment, and resilience. Short term attitude might prove to be detrimental for the organisation and hence will not be welcomed. Therefore, to become long term talent, professionalism, and ethics are crucial. A team member who is extremely intelligent and talented but with poor work ethics will only harm the organisation.
Workplace ethics act as a moral compass and provide employees with the guidelines for decision making in situations that appear grey. It’s always better to err on the side of caution than to take a risk. In today’s VUCA world, there are a lot of grey situations. For instance, the present case, where organisations are struggling with cash flows, to maintain employee wellbeing and experience. At this time, their decision-making process and the way execution will exhibit their code of ethics.
Organisational reputation and brand
An organisation where employees uphold the highest standards of professionalism and ethics is seen as an employer of choice. But in reality, it is not awards and publications that make a person the best employer. Rather it is the way when you uphold your values in times of crisis and helps the organisation to get through it.
Profitability and productivity
Ethics and organisational success go hand in hand. Value-driven companies are always successful in the long run, with a workforce that is committed, engaged, and capable. In today’s crisis, organisations that will persevere, pivot, and innovate to meet the needs of a new normal and engage their employees while doing so will emerge as winners.
Building of society
Organisations are a subunit of society. What we do at work, we carry back home and vice versa. As we abide by professional and ethical standards at work, we bring the same values of commitment, dedication, loyalty, and integrity to our family and society. For example- We visited a store in Delhi a few days back. The guard at the entrance told us to wait as only limited people were allowed inside. We decided to wait, but the lady behind us got impatient and tried to enter the store even though the guard had not given a go-ahead. Witnessing this, my twelve-year kid elucidated the lady about the rules and the importance of maintaining the distance. A little taken aback, she listened and decided to stay back for her safety.
These are just a few implications of imbibing professionalism and ethics in our day to day interactions, at work, and in our personal dealings. It is also evident, that maintaining a professional and ethical mindset, as individuals and organisations will be vital in emerging as conquerors in the corona crisis.