1) What is professionalism?   2) Does professionalism matter? 3) How is professionalism judged? 4) What is the individual responsibility in regards to professionalism? 5) What are two...

1) What is professionalism?   2) Does professionalism matter? 3) How is professionalism judged? 4) What is the individual responsibility in regards to professionalism? 5) What are two implications of unprofessionalism?  

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Professionalism can be defined in a variety of ways.  One of the most important parts of this definition of unprofessionalism is not sustaining a positive work environment.  Unprofessionalism means that individuals fail to adhere to established mores and ethics of conduct in a work setting. Professionalism is essential to ensuring that there is a common understanding of how the workplace is to function and how one's job is to be executed. Professionalism matters because it establishes a shared understanding of how people are to behave in the workplace setting.  One of the reasons why the workplace functions the way it does is because of professional codes of conduct.  For example, it is unprofessional for colleagues to start shouting at one another in the midst of a work setting.  When colleagues engage in such behavior, it takes away from the task at hand and everyone's ability to concentrate on it.  

Professionalism matters because when it is not respected, a negative work environment results.  This invariably takes a toll on the climate of the workplace. Professionalism can be judged through management communication of expectations.  It can be judged in performance evaluations and appraisals. Nearly all organizations that evaluate employees include a component regarding professionalism. Executive management is one way in which professionalism is enforced and communicated.  Another way in which professionalism is judged is through colleague interaction.  When colleagues are able to tow the professional line with one another, it helps to judge and reaffirm what is commonly accepted as professional behavior.  For example, individuals who might be predisposed to engage in unprofessional behavior might be kept in check when seeing their other colleagues either demonstrate professionalism and/ or reprimand those who do not exhibit accepted standards of conduct.  This is another way in which professionalism is judged.

Individual responsibility is essential to upholding professionalism.  The phrase "Attitude Matters" bears much in this particular setting.  Management can set the tone and enforce the standards of professional conduct.  However, the individual employee decides how they will exhibit professional conduct.  It is conscious choice that the individual makes.  Individual responsibility is critical in determining whether or not the individual will adhere to professional standards of conduct.  It is in this regard where individual responsibility plays a large role in professionalism.  Management can offer suggestions and even threaten to enforce the rules of professional conduct.  In the end, the individual and their attitude decide how to interpret and embrace the professional standards that surround them in any field.  One implication of unprofessionalism could be termination of position.  If individuals carry on in an unprofessional manner, management might feel compelled to relieve them of their position. Consider the individual who continually reports late to meetings or to the work setting.  If management does not take steps to redress such behavior, then the risk for other employees to interpret the rules in a relaxed manner could be detrimental to the workplace setting.  In this instance, one of the implications of unprofessionalism could be termination or reprimand.  Another implication of unprofessionalism is an unpleasant work environment.  An unprofessional setting where colleagues bully and intimidate one another, don't adhere to accepted standards of interaction and grooming, and a workplace setting where respectful modes of conduct are absent simply is an atrocious place in which to work.  Individuals will simply not want to work in such a setting.  This becomes one of the most destructive implications of unprofessionalism.

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