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Quick Tip #2 – Breaking Unprofessional Habits

Quick Tip # 2 comes from The Chronicle of Higher Education (March 13, 2019). I was attracted to this brief article because of the statement by Rob Jenkins that “Too often, he says, simple business in higher ed is conducted unprofessionally.” Perhaps this is even more so in the remote environment. What will things look like when we return to campus full time? (Note that I didn’t say when things are “back to normal” because I don’t think there will be a normal again, at least as we sometimes envision it.)

Unprofessional habits strain relationships on campus. Here are four ways to break them.

Rob Jenkins, one of our advice contributors, has spent most of his adult life in higher ed. He has also dealt extensively with people in the corporate and nonprofit worlds, and his experience has led him to a worrisome conclusion: Academics don’t always look so good in comparison. Too often, he says, simple business in higher ed is conducted unprofessionally. Calls go unreturned. Emails are ignored. That kind of behavior is destructive, and it strains relationships. Here are four simple ways to avoid such bad habits:

I. Respond in kind. It’s hard, because you get lots of email. But if someone goes to the trouble of contacting you directly, try your best to reply.

II. Follow through. Doing what we’ve promised to do is key. Dropping the ball creates problems for others.

III. Be there. Sacrifice a little time to demonstrate your commitment to your institution — and your fellow human beings.

IV. Speak temperately. Be gracious, acknowledge your failings, and accept your share of responsibility when things don’t go well.

If you’re a true professional, you treat everyone else’s time as just as valuable as your own. And you do what you’ve committed to doing.