Professionalism at the workplace

Professionalism is a set of instructions and values that employees adhere to, both inside and outside of an organization.   If caught in violation of those values, it will result in a reprimand from one’s superiors or worse, dismissal from an organization.

Professionalism is important because it is a code of socially acceptable behavior that will preserve and possibly improve the image and/or brand of the organization.  People with high standards of professionalism are generally considered to be more credible and more trustworthy.

Conduct unbecoming of an officer


Time reported on December 19, 2013, that United States Air Force Major General Michael Carey is the latest to suffer from an episode of unprofessionalism resulting in his eventual dismissal as “commanding all land-based U.S. nuclear missiles after Pentagon investigators concluded he drank too much and cavorted with “suspect” women last July during an official three-day trip to Russia.”

According to US Air Force investigators, Carey’s unprofessionalism breached the Uniform Code of Military Justice of “conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.”

CNN reported in December 21, 2013, that “he was relieved of duty in October because of loss of confidence in his leadership, the Air Force said at the time without providing specific details.”

Social media and professionalism

Professionalism also extends into social media.  Countless stories have been published about employers disciplining their employees as a result of inappropriate behavior posted on social media networking sites.  A social media policy is a template outlining how an employee should and should not act on the internet.

Firefighters fired

According to the Toronto Star, “three Toronto firefighters have been fired following a month-long investigation into tweets and other social media posts seen as degrading to women.”

In November 2012, Toronto Firefighter Matt Bowman “tweeted a seven-year-old line from The Office: “Reject a woman and she will never let it go. One of the many defects of their kind. Also weak arms.””

As paid employees of the City of Toronto, “firefighters are required to follow the city’s social media guidelines.”

The Toronto Star reported that “Toronto Fire Chief Jim Sales said tweets from three fired firefighters was not in any way acceptable for city employees.”

This incident could have been avoided had the firefighters adhered to the City of Toronto’s social media protocol. The Toronto Star reported that “these guidelines state employees should “not engage in harassment, personal attacks or abuse toward individuals or organizations,” and “not use language that is discriminatory, hateful, or violent towards identifiable groups or that incites others to discriminate, practise hate or violence.””

17 people who were fired for using Facebook

Professionalism is a serious matter.  Reread your company’s code of ethics and social media policy, as not knowing it will ruin your reputation, prospects for promotion, and credibility.

Should employees be given warnings on their first offence?  Where is the line drawn between a reprimand and dismissal?  Let me know what you think in the comments below.


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