Written by Niki Tudge
There is much chatter within the pet industry about transparency, competency and accountability amongst professionals. So let’s look at each of these individually and what they mean.
1. Transparency to me implies openness. Are you transparent in your business practices? Can others see, read or listen to information that informs them upfront about each of the actions you may perform when caring for or training their pet. Are you honest about the protocols, procedures, equipment, techniques you may use to achieve mutually agreeable goals? Are you also transparent in a professional way about the actions you are not prepared to take in the name of training, management or care. Is your transparency presented in a professional manner with no judgment, criticism or challenge to others?
2. Competency is considered the most ethical obligation a professional has. Competency is typically defined as having professional knowledge. It demands that professionals have been schooled in the theory and research of their industry and, as a result, hold the necessary skills to apply that field of knowledge to a working situation with their clients. It is imperative, however, for us to understand that competence is the measure of actual professional performance and not the level and amount of education one has received. High levels of education do not guarantee competency and, conversely, a professional lacking a high level of education does not correlate to a lack of competency. In the fields of animal training and behavior, it is widely accepted that it is unlikely, if not impossible, to be fully competent across all the varied industry services. As a result, some professionals elect to be very strategic when defining their scope and elect to narrow their focus to areas they both enjoy and where they demonstrate competence. From a marketing perspective, selecting limited services and marketing oneself as an expert across these services only can be a strategically savvy move. What is critical is that, as professionals, we recognize and acknowledge our own competent skill set and work within those confines.
3. Accountability is an obligation to accept responsibility for your own actions and to disclose these actions in a transparent way. Most true professionals have a clear set of individual values to which they manage their professional lives. Professionals maintain decorum, they respect client confidentiality, they implement and manage informed consent, they operate a ethical, fiscally responsible and socially upstanding business. Professionals stay away from intra- and inter-organizational conflict and they focus on the professional delivery of their own services and products while protecting their own professional values. Companies, organizations and associations also have a part to play in accountability. They have collective accountability for their members, employees and stakeholders. Organizations also need to determine a standard of core values that participants will be held accountable to and an operational system for managing the accountability.
So are you and your business fully transparent, do you operate within the parameters of your professional competency and do you align yourself with organizations that have compatible value systems so you are comfortable being part of the collective accountability?