Garima is part of the sales team in her organization. As she’s responsible for communicating with new clients, helping them understand the product, she takes her job very seriously. She responds to them on time, making sure to address their concerns and queries in a composed manner. Garima’s manager is impressed with her professional ethics as they factor into their brand image.
As someone working in sales, it’s important for Garima to follow certain rules of the trade. Effective communication, dealing with difficult customers and being convincing at the same time are some of Garima’s everyday tasks.
Like every profession is different, so are the principles or guidelines that govern them. These guidelines are known as professional ethics. It’s the professional ethics that determine the extent of professionalism a person or group displays in an organization.
You may confuse ethics with values but these are very different from each other. While values vary from one person to another, professional ethics are the standard code of conduct and rules that every person joining that profession has to mandatorily follow. For example, all doctors need to abide by the same set of professional ethics, but each of them may have different personal values.
Principles Of Professional Ethics
To be a professional, you need to have professional skills as well as ethics. Professional ethics are likely to vary from one profession to another. For instance, a soldier’s ethics will be different from an engineer’s.
Professionalism requires a person to utilize their professional skills with relevant ethics. Certain ethical principles are fundamental to all professions. The most prominent among them are:
No sinister motives
Fairness to all
Your professional ethics may have to be tailored depending on your job profile, industry and organization. In each case, it’s your responsibility to follow through and adopt ethical practices to be a valuable employee.
Codes Of Conduct
The codes of conduct for any profession are established by combining the above-mentioned ethics with professional skills. They outline the acceptable standards of behavior, quality of service and social responsibility that every professional in the field has to follow.
These codes of conduct also aim to safeguard the wellness of professionals and help them achieve their expectations without compromising on things like work-life balance, quality of work and personal and professional development.
There are a lot of benefits that professional skills-based codes of conduct offer to various stakeholders. Let’s take a look at the beneficiaries and what they get from professionalism:
If the codes of conduct are adhered to, the general public is assured of a standardized service and will trust an individual’s professional skills.
An ethical professional would lend confidence to clients about quality, transparency and assured service.
Adherence to the codes of conduct by professionals benefits even other members of the same profession. They’re able to develop and implement processes and frameworks that further reduce the likelihood of unprofessional activities or unlawful steps. Ethics also prevent a person from exploring the loopholes in the rules and misuse the system.
By following the codes of conduct and working ethically, a professional will be able to enhance the value and scope of the profession and pave the way for its popularity among the masses.
Strong ethical conduct enhances the reputation of a profession and people from other walks of life see it as a reliable and respectable field that is comfortable to deal with.
Following the codes of conduct in your professional life will help you stick to your path without getting sidetracked. In turn, you’ll be able to deliver high performance and improve your quality of work.
Factors Necessitating Professional Ethics
In a more technical sense, professional ethics are necessary because of certain legal factors. These are:
These responsibilities play a great role in professions such as law, accounting and business counseling. By agreeing to assist the client, these professionals bind themselves to a certain degree of responsibility to take care of the client’s needs. The client depends on the professional for that service. Such a relationship between the client and the professional adviser is known as a fiduciary relationship and points to the existence of certain duties that the service provider has towards the client.
These are applicable to almost all professions. When we enter into an agreement with a client or sign a contract for certain professional services, we become legally bound to fulfill the terms of the contract. Contractual duties are often safeguarded by ethics such as confidentiality, honesty, quality, due diligence, skill and careful delivery of service.
For instance, if a communication professional enters into a contract to provide internet services to an online business, then it becomes the responsibility of the communication professional to apply all his professional skills to deliver the agreed level of services to his customers or clients.
Your organization will require you to follow a certain code of conduct as long as you’re employed by them. Failure to do so may even lead to legal action against an employee.
The Importance Of Ethical Behavior In Business
To be a professional, it’s important to have professional skills as well as professional ethics. The job market is highly competitive and unless you run a business ethically, you’re unlikely to sustain its growth for a long time. Your customers, vendors and employees will be discouraged by the company’s lack of professionalism or fraudulent, unethical or grey area work practices.
For instance, you might initially make a lot of sales by making tall claims about the effectiveness of a product, but if the product fails to deliver the promised performance, your business will lose its credibility and sales will plummet.
On the other hand, if you don’t compromise on quality and ethical service, your honesty and integrity will help the company gain the trust and support of its clients and customers. It’s a well-known fact that employees are the brand ambassadors of an organization.
The conduct and behavior of an organization’s employees are known to mirror the way business is conducted in the organization. Thus, as an employee, you must always remember that your actions and behavior will impact your place of work’s public opinion.
Ethical conduct is of paramount importance. It not only refers to adherence to law but also doing things that are socially and morally appropriate and help you win the faith and support of the clients and other stakeholders. Great businesses set their standards and stick to them, whereas petty and unethical businesses rely on ‘selling by hook or crook’.
Let’s go back to the example of the communication professional providing internet services. The communication professional might offer lower prices and attractive terms and conditions to lure customers. If this person uses old or refurbished equipment at the rate of new equipment, he might make money initially. However, the service issues that may arise later due to the quality of equipment may lead to losses with customers discontinuing the service due to dissatisfaction.
Such behavior is considered unethical and unacceptable. Quite often, we hear employees claim that they’re made to cut corners because of the lack of a budget. However, that’s no justification. If you’re carrying out illegal activities, you’re as guilty as anyone else and this won’t be termed as professionalism. If you wish to be a professional then remember that ethical conduct is the key to your success.
Norms Of Professional Ethics In Our Life
The word ‘norm’ has its origins in the Latin word ‘norma’, which means yardstick. Norms govern what we should or shouldn’t do.
There are certain norms that influence a person’s professionalism:
Morality Of The individual:
By this, we refer to the personal value system of people. Those who indulge in immoral conduct are often left to deal with a guilty conscience. Individual morality is often shaped by a person’s upbringing.
Legal Norms Or Laws:
These are the rules which aim to prevent anarchy and maintain peace and order in society. These include public laws, also known as criminal laws, and are applicable to everyone, and private laws that vary from person to person.
It must also be remembered that all professionals are human beings. Hence, they’re also ruled by emotions, relationships and effort. Therefore, ethics should be influenced by meaningful decisions and empowerment. Keeping that in mind, let’s take a look at four personal ethics that have guided professionalism for several centuries:
These principles have survived since ancient times and have been guiding people on how to be a professional. We have to overcome biases and stick to reason to be a professional.
Professional ethics is the force that binds our actions to social wellness. You should always ask yourself the question, ‘how will my actions affect others?’
When you’re socially focused, you’ll most likely create solutions, products or services that’ll benefit the public and help you achieve your goals. Professional ethics and personal codes of conduct have been the foundations of great societies and businesses.
If you want to be a great lawyer, you should never exploit legal loopholes. If you want to be a doctor, you should focus on saving lives. If you want to be a communication professional, you can ensure the delivery of effective and high-quality communication facilities that help in augmenting the business.
Harappa’s Building Presence course is aimed at helping people learn the value of professional ethics. It’ll help you cultivate a unique and commanding identity in the market.
Explore our Harappa Diaries section to know more about topics & skills related to the Communicate habit such as Interpersonal Skills, What is Communication, Process of Communication, What is Report Writing, Writing Skills and Self Introduction.