Appropriate workplace behaviour when you’re actually in work is one thing, but it’s important to remember conduct out of work can have serious professional consequences too.
The Telegraph recently reported an incident between two doctors at an alcohol fuelled evening on a lads’ holiday to Spain. (What could possibly go wrong!?) One of the doctors allegedly said something which sufficiently upset the other that he hit him. The offending remarks - allegedly - related to whether Laura Kuenssberg (the BBC politics editor) is attractive enough to be on TV or whether she should don a paper bag (a notion which could form the subject of a blog all of itself).
Aside from the (hopefully) obvious rule of thumb - ‘don’t hit a colleague round the head’ - here’s five other lessons professionals can take from this cautionary tale about conduct in your ‘private’ life:
- Anything you do or say in public may become very public. In the world of social media - it’s safest to assume that what you do or say (especially if it has click-bait potential) will enter the public domain - even if you don’t intend it to (perhaps particularly if you don’t intend it to).
- You are accountable for your words, your actions and their consequences. You are, of course, at liberty to do and say whatever you like in your leisure time - exercising your human rights and free will. But you need to be prepared to face whatever storm may follow. If exercising your democratic right to free speech brings your employer or your profession into serious disrepute, can you really cry foul if it has career limiting consequences?
- Integrity isn’t a part time thing. What you say, whenever and wherever you say it, is a window on your soul… And you don’t have two sets of core values. What you say (whether you mean it or not) says something about who you are (even if it’s just that you’re the kind of person who says things you don’t mean…). Whether they go viral or not, if your words and actions outside work are a far cry from the values you purport to be committed to professionally, you can expect it to impact on trust - and your co-workers may doubt your authenticity.
- If, in a relaxed social moment, you find yourself thinking “It’s fine because this is just a bit of banter” you might want to stop. It’s only okay until it’s not (and you’re not the one who gets to decide when that is).
- Alcohol doesn’t feel like a particularly attractive line of defence when you’re in a disciplinary hearing explaining why you should keep your job.
Maybe there are some conversations it’s just safest not to have with the people you have to work with on Monday morning (even if they're your mates). For the avoidance of doubt - a debate about whether a woman is sufficiently attractive to hold a professional role is one of them.