The Role of Professional Protocols: Recruitment, Retention, and Service

The Role of Professional Protocols: Recruitment, Retention, and Service

Kiyomi D. Deards (University of Nebraska – Lincoln, USA) and Jolie O. Graybill (University of Nebraska – Lincoln, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5812-7.ch005
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Abstract

The cultivation of professionalism is a necessary part of training the academic and research library leaders of the future. By incorporating professionalism into succession planning efforts, individuals acquire skills that will serve them across institutions as they transition between positions of power. For the purposes of this study, the aspects of professionalism were divided into four main categories: etiquette, professional behavior, personal presentation, and space (how people fill and use it). This chapter examines existing literature and contains the results of a survey of how library employees feel about professional protocols. It argues that the observance of professional protocols can impact student satisfaction as well as create a more positive work environment. Results of the survey indicate that libraries value professionalism with an emphasis on professional behavior.
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Introduction

The importance of professionalism at all levels in the library work environment has been largely ignored in succession planning. Succession planning has traditionally focused on the grooming of individuals to lead a single organization (Nixon, 2008; Rothwell, 2005; Singer & Griffith, 2010). The need to retain individuals has also been addressed, but with a focus on grooming them for management positions within the current organization (Singer & Griffith, 2010). In reality, while people may be groomed to be successful leaders there is no guarantee in today’s changing society that they will remain within that organization. Even if a person takes on a leadership role within the individual’s current organization, many leadership positions within organizations change hands every five to ten years. Thus it is important to teach leaders the skills and tools to succeed not just in one institution, but across multiple institutions (Webster & Young, 2009). Additionally, the question of whether or not librarianship is a profession has been an ongoing debate within the professional literature and, more recently, on the Internet (Abbott, 1988; DeWeese, 1972; Harris, 1993; Plummer, 1903; Potter, 2010). This questioning of librarianships status as a profession often includes questioning the worth of a master’s degree in library science (Potter, 2010). It has also been examined as a source of conflict between librarians and staff, who are sometimes labeled paraprofessionals (Jones & Stivers, 2004). It may appear that librarians are unique in questioning the professionalism of their discipline, however, perceived declines in professionalism and similar questions have been raised among the clergy, financial, legal, medical, social services and other professions (Burger, 1993; Flexner, 1915; Noordegraaf, 2007; Schön, 1983).

This chapter explores professionalism across a broad spectrum of disciplines to define professional protocols. Professionalism will be examined not as a label granted by others or defined by a specific role in an institution, but as a set of behaviors and actions taken by individuals and organizations (Polk-Lepson Research Group, 2009). Protocols across professions will be discussed with a heavy emphasis on the business, medical, and sociological communities. Professional ethics will not be examined due to the substantial body of works devoted to that aspect of professionalism. A short survey was also conducted to discover how librarians ranked each type of professional protocol in terms of importance. For the purposes of this research protocols were divided into four categories: etiquette, professional behavior, personal presentation, and space (how people fill and use it). These protocols will provide guidance for libraries seeking to establish professional protocols by identifying key areas to be addressed and the protocols of concern within the library community. Establishing a more uniform set of professional protocols would lessen the perceived differences between institutional cultures and facilitate professional working environments, thus easing transitions in power at all levels. Professional protocols can also be used to ensure equitable treatment of employees by those in positions of power. Behavior that is perceived to be negative creates a negative environment and has been shown to increase employee turnover (Harris, Harvey, & Booth, 2010). Maintaining a professional climate will help create the positive work environment necessary for employee retention (Zineldin, Akdag, & Belal, 2012). This can be critical to employee retention after an organization loses a popular leader (Zineldin et al., 2012). Most importantly, professional protocols will create a positive atmosphere which users of academic libraries, and potential applicants will pick up on, creating a positive image of the organization (Zineldin et al., 2012).

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