Professional principles

Professional – what does it mean to you?

A person in a suit? A type of work defined by qualifications? The way you do your work? Watch this video to understand the professional principles of Westminster Business School, developed by staff, students and employers. 

Being professional is different to being a professional. Being professional means working and behaving to high standards; working with others as you wish they'll work with you.

Our professional principles summarise the behaviours expected of everyone working and studying at Westminster Business School, including all staff and students. Professional education is a partnership involving students, registry staff and lecturers.

To be successful and enjoy working, studying and learning at Westminster Business School we all should be professional, behaving in a professional manner that ensures we achieve our goals while helping others achieve theirs.

The professional principles outlined below represent what we should expect of each other and of ourselves and apply to everyone. When we behave in a professional manner, others will be professional with us. Employers want and value people who respect and support others as well as themselves.

In addition to the faculty's specific Professional Principles, the University has a general Student Charter for all students and staff, which outlines our broader expectations of each other.

At Westminster Business School, we are:

We're accountable for ourselves and our actions. We all have an important and valued role to play in both our own success and in the success of the Business School. The freedom to make choices and decisions and about how we live and work brings responsibilities too. Others depend on and are affected by what we do. A commitment to another is a promise and we should deliver it. If we can’t, we should take prompt action to avoid letting others down.

What I can do

Staff

The students depend on you to provide good learning opportunities that make the best of what Westminster Business School has to offer. If you're a module leader, your teaching team depends on you for the materials they need to teach effectively. The students depend on you to plan and deliver classes that maximise their opportunities to learn.

Students

Commit to your studies – they open the doors, to the start of your career and many other opportunities. Ultimately it is you, not the Faculty or the teaching staff, that is responsible for your learning. When studying you make commitments to your teachers and other students – make sure you deliver on these. Others will be depending on you, so don’t let them down. For instance, warn others if you can’t keep a commitment.

We all want to work and study effectively. Being responsible recognises that our actions can affect others negatively, such as when we are loud or disruptive or don’t report problems that we see in classrooms or other public spaces, or positively, when we get involved to help make Westminster Business School a better place to work and study.

Being responsible means taking action to look after our own interests while making a positive contribution that helps meet the needs of others and the Faculty.

Be considerate of others and their ideas. We are a learning community, dependent on one another for help, advice and guidance. We have a lot to learn from each other and everyone has something to offer. We are a community of equals and being polite, respectful and co-operative helps ensure successful outcomes to everything that we do.

What I can do

We all have a right to be respected and have our views and concerns listened to. Everyone can contribute and we all benefit from a friendly and respectful environment. Westminster Business School is a tolerant and welcoming community and showing respect is a great way to gain the respect of others.

Staff

Remember that our students have a wide variety of educational and cultural backgrounds. They may be unaware of some aspects of UK higher education so a tolerant approach is important. When teaching remember that different cultures differ on what is an acceptable subject for discussion and what standards of behaviour might be expected. Be careful in your choice of words and humour, and be sensitive with possibly controversial issues. As a teacher you occupy a position of power in the eyes of students so be aware of the possible impact of what you say and do.

Students

You study in a very diverse community of over 100 nationalities and this is a great opportunity to make friends and build networks across the world. You have a lot to learn from other cultures when you acknowledge differing perspectives and cultural differences. A courteous and respectful approach shows that you recognise that everyone has a right to be here.

Being respectful means always treating others as you would wish to be treated. It's plain common sense to value one another.

Be a thoughtful and constructive communicator. With nearly 4,000 staff and students working at Westminster Business School, timely, clear communication is essential. It helps us make the most of our time. Effective communication depends on two things; staying in touch and making contact promptly when needed, and also ensuring we communicate clearly to the right people with the right message in the right way.

What I can do

We all should make the effort to keep up to date. This way you remain in touch with what is going on and can respond promptly to communications directed specifically at you. When you are contacted you should aim to reply within two ‘working’ days. If you cannot answer a query in that time, at least respond with a holding message that states when you will respond more fully.

Staff

It's really important to keep up with messages directed to you. At times this can seem overwhelming, especially if you are getting many messages from students. Take a little time each day to ensure that you stay on top of these. Setting aside specific times to respond to contacts can help. We owe it to each other to be as helpful and supportive as we can – and this includes being contactable and responding promptly and constructively.

Students

Regularly check and make use of our key communication channels, including university email and Blackboard course/module pages. When contacting staff remember that, just like you, they are busy. Be clear and complete in your messages and avoid using ‘text-speak’ as this can be seen as disrespectful and is not business-like. If you commit to respond to staff or friends by a certain time, make sure you do. Others are depending on you.

Being clear means ensuring we know what is going on, are keeping in touch and recognise that what we say, how we say it and which channel we use all are important to effective communication.

Meet deadlines and be on time. Things run more smoothly when everyone is prompt and arrives prepared for the task at hand. Your timely contribution helps ensure that activities and administrative processes run well.

What I can do

It sounds obvious but be on time. Arriving late for classes and meetings disrupts that event for everyone. Missed deadlines cause complications, make quality teaching and learning more difficult and spoil the experience of all involved.

Staff

Make the effort to attend key faculty and departmental events, arriving in good time for the start. Aim to arrive a few minutes early for teaching – it's a sign of respect for your class and your colleagues.

If late or unable to meet a commitment make contact asap to ensure that others are aware. If teaching, ensure that cover is arranged or at least warn the students if you are unable to deliver a session or return assessments by the stated deadline. Equally, if you're unable to meet a commitment to colleagues (for instance, to complete and return marking by agreed dates) take action in good time so that others are not inconvenienced and processes run smoothly.

Students

It's just as important that you arrive in good time for classes or meetings with staff or students; others are depending on you. If you know you can't make a class, warn your teachers in advance; they will appreciate your consideration.

Regularly arriving late for a class is selfish and disruptive. Take time to organise your time. For instance, aim to submit assessed work at least one day ahead. That way, if there are any unexpected problems, you have time to sort them out.

Being punctual shows we value our own and others’ time, are well organised and have respect for those that depend on us.

Actively learning, teaching and working. Education is a collaborative experience enhanced by interaction with others. Making an active contribution and being receptive to the contribution of others means we all gain. 

Capitalise on what others have to offer. Business education, research and practice are dynamic, fast developing areas of activity. To keep up and enjoy the ride we need to be actively involved.

What I can do

Staff

Make use of your professional networks to keep in touch with what is going on. Get involved with activities across and beyond the university; it helps you stay up-to-date and builds your reputation. We all have something to contribute and by contributing, we learn to be open and receptive to students and colleagues.

Students

You gain much more when you play an active part in class - you can challenge, confirm and deepen your understanding. Westminster Business School and the university offer an amazing array of activities and opportunities for you to contribute to and benefit from.

However, you can’t do everything. To be effective, select a few activities and really make your mark - you will gain more out of your time and develop a track record of achievement to share with future employers.

Being engaged and committed to what we do is rewarding, keeps us sharp, and ensures that we have something to offer our peers.

Be aware of policies, procedures and developments. We all should take the time to learn about the faculty and the university, its policies and systems as they affect us as individuals and our work and study.

What I can do

Faculties and universities are complex organisations. Their policies and systems, regulations and processes exist to help us, but they can be complex. Opportunities, effort and time can be wasted through our not knowing about the key processes that affect us.

Find out how they work and also know the best person to go to for help when we're not sure.

Keep up-to-date with announcements and changes to regulations and systems – they can change at any time so keep an eye out and pay attention to changes as they are announced.

Staff

It's vital that you know the main regulations that affect your role. They are available online; make sure you know where to find them. If you're a personal tutor you have an important role in helping our students. Knowing the regulations ensures that you can respond effectively to tutee requests for help or guidance.

Students

Make sure that you're aware of the key regulations and systems that directly affect you. This will save you time and stress when dealing with any issues that arise.

There's a lot of information and support available; find out how you can access it. Faculty, course and module documents, Blackboard, Registry and UWSU all can help.

Keeping informed helps us make the most of our time, avoid mistakes and deal with issues more easily.

Be ready to learn, teach and support one another. Being ready to work and study by completing activities which take place prior to teaching and learning.

Thorough preparation leads to better teaching and learning: the objectives of every session will be achieved.

What I can do

It takes two for an effective teaching session to be an effective learning session. It depends on both staff and students being prepared. This enables students to better engage with the taught material and staff to teach more effectively knowing that students are ready to participate.

Staff

Ensure that you and your teaching team prepare, design and structure the module well in advance of delivery. Take account of feedback from the previous years. As a module leader ensure, your teaching team is fully briefed on the module as a whole and supplied with complete materials for every teaching session. As a seminar leader, ensure you are aware of the objectives of the session and have all you need to facilitate the seminar effectively.

Students

Read and understand the module handbook. Take action to clarify anything that is unclear. Where preparation is needed, doing this will help you get the most value out of the session. Poor or no preparation undermines your own learning and disrupts planned activities, reducing the value of the class for you - and for everyone else too.

Being prepared ensures all goes smoothly and the maximum benefit is gained for everyone.

COMMITTED TO PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL GROWTH

As staff and students, we all should actively engage in continual professional development so that we can perform better in Westminster Business School and the wider business world.

Learning, teaching practice and the business world are changing rapidly. To become and remain competent as a teacher, student or employee continuous updating of our skills, knowledge and practices is critical.

Recognise that in the world of work yesterday’s significant capabilities are today’s run-of-the-mill expertise. Being aware of how your chosen field is changing is the first step towards developing and maintaining your expertise.

Staff

Engage with business and higher education activity beyond Westminster. This will help you maintain and develop relevant skills that enable you to better support colleagues and students. The faculty can help you work towards formal teaching qualifications. Bring business into the classroom - build links with external speakers willing to share their experience with students.

Students

You too should take responsibility for your own professional development. This can’t start too early in your time at Westminster Business School. Seek out and take advantage of the many opportunities available to you to start building your network and gain the practical experience that employers value.

This could be through work or through active involvement with faculty and university organisations. Westminster Business School is a business-like community; be business-like in your dealings with it.

Seeking constantly to develop is ‘sharpening the saw’ – making you better at what you do and opening up new opportunities.

University resources

If you'd like to find out more about how to work in a professional manner, please visit our Student Charter page or download our Essential Westminster guide.

Find out more

You can also find articles about professionalism online. Here are a few recommendations: