Ethics Part II
Shodor > SUCCEED > Curriculum > Apprentices > Ethics Part II


Lesson Abstract

Lesson Abstract: Working as a professional in today's business environment requires a measure of tact, integrity, and communications skills, both written and oral. What you say and how you say it will ultimately become the standard by which you are known. Just as there is more than one-way to "skin a cat", also as varied are the styles of communication that professionals use to get their point across. Ultimately, though, the main goal is to deliver a crisp, clear message to the hearer. "Beating around the bush" only tends to lower others opinions of you. Likewise, harshness and sharpness of voice is not a show of authority.
Respect authority and it will in return respect you. It is more effective to follow the golden rule, "treat others as you would want to be treated". This keeps the playing field level.

Note: This lesson plan references several terms used at Shodor throughout its entirety. The terms Shodor as the organization's name, and Intern, Apprentice, or staff as hierarchical entities may be freely and suitably substituted without changing the intended content of this document.

This lesson uses lecture and live illustrations to instruct the student on how to work in a business office with integrity and loyalty.

Standards Addressed



  • Communicate respectfully
  • Use appropriate meeting etiquette
  • Properly handle assets and intellectual property
  • Practice integrity and loyalty.

Key Terms


Prerequisite Knowledge

No prerequisites are necessary, but it is highly suggested that the course "Professional Office Ethics I" be completed prior to attempting this course.

Teacher Preparation

Instructor should be familiar with office controls and operations, either by experience or formal training. Instructor should be able to elaborate on ideas presented. The instructor may elect to use live illustrations to establish a point.


Required MaterialsMediaEquipment

  • Whiteboard + Markers
  • 1 desk style telephone
  • 1 discarded computer mouse
  • 1 discarded CD
  • Desk and chair
  • Paper and pencil for each student

  • Power point file (optional) needed if used for the class.

  • Computer + projector for the instructor.


Safety (Precautions and reminders)Know the location's emergency escape route and other pertinent emergency or safety information.

Presentation Outline


3 minutes

After a brief greeting, inform the class that the course material will focus on communicating effectively and respectfully, properly handling Shodor assets and intellectual property, approaching an open office, using good meeting manners, and writing professional e-mails.

Let's Communicate

18 minutes

Effective communication is a vital part of any establishment or institution, and is essential for its growth and exchange of ideas. The instructor should explain in detail the following points.

  1. Use Good Voice Control. Shouting while inside should be kept to a minimum and should be done only when necessary, such as in an emergency or when the environment is noisy and you needs someone's attention. Never use inappropriate gestures. Always speak gently with peers.
  2. Anger should be kept to a minimum. Even when misunderstandings or disagreements arise, individuals are expected to express themselves with temperance. Arguing or debate is only permitted to establish a viable point, and this must be done civilly without animosity.
  3. Entering an Occupied Office. It is polite to make your presence known when entering an occupied office. Don't sneak in unawares. If the person visited is conversing with someone, wait for an appropriate time to make your presence known. If necessary, leave and come back later. Usually, a simple "Hello, Bob" is sufficient to start a conversation if the occupant is not busy. If the office is occupied and the door is closed, gently knock on the door and wait for a response. Generally, in either case, if the occupant is busy, he will afterwards seek out the visitor. (Skit: The instructor sits at a desk with phone in hand, pretending to talk to a customer. A visitor (student) enters unawares. He pauses, and then taps the talking instructor on the shoulder. The astonished instructor jumps uncontrollably, knocking over and displacing items on the desk. Discuss the situation. Repeat the skit with the visitor knocking first, and enter in after being recognized by the instructor.)
  4. Share the Meeting It is proper etiquette to yield to the person in charge, or moderator, of the meeting. It is equally disrespectful to have a second, or sidebar, meeting while the primary meeting is in session. Wait your turn, and don't "hog" the meeting when it is your time to speak. It is useless to "toot your own horn". Your work will speak for you.
  5. Use the Speakerphone Efficiently. When a speakerphone is used to connect others remotely, speak crisply and with appropriate volume so that others can hear you clearly. This will reduce repeats and minimize errors due to poor voice reproduction. You may need to state your name in a group setting for the benefit of those who are participating remotely. Remember, they can't always see you.
  6. Don't answer that phone When a person visits your office or workspace and begins conversing, it is generally impolite to answer the phone. Consider that the visitor is more important than the caller. If an important call is expected or anticipated during the visit, inform the visitor initially so that no personal offense will be committed. Afterwards, contact the visitor to finish the conversation. (Skit: The instructor is engage in conversation with a client (student) about a project when the phone rings. He immediately answers it. The conversation is about the movies. He talks for a moment and hangs up and resumes with the client. The phone rings again and he answers again. The conversation is about going bowling. He hangs up and resumes talking with the client. The phone rings a third time and he answers it. It is a dinner date with some friends. The instructor should explain to the class why this type of behavior is not acceptable.)
  7. Respect Your Superiors When talking to mentors or the boss, Apprentices and Interns should respect their position of authority. Mentors and superiors are not "just one of the boys", but are the ones to help Apprentices and Interns develop into professional contributors of society. Shodor's staff members are individuals, and will respond in the manner in which they are addressed. Wholesome, professional communication is the expectation of every Shodor employee. Individuals should be addressed appropriately by name. Sensitivity to Shodor's diverse population should be maintained.
  8. Give frequent updates on your assignments. It is a good idea to give frequent updates and status on your particular project or assignment. Inform your staff or leader about the specifics of the assignment, and any additional requirements needed to complete your task. Sometimes, unforeseen technicalities arise that can impede progress, causing missed targets. Communicate these situations to the team leader to determine if adjustments may be in order.
  9. Talk It Out. If you have an idea (or complaint), feel free to discuss it with a staff member. Present your case in a pleasantly voiced manner so that the contents will be brought forth without prejudice. Unprofessional or harsh presentations are usually less persuasive and meet more scrutiny.
  10. Don't slam the boss, even if you disagree with him. Arrogance has no place at Shodor.
  11. Writing E-mails and Documents Sending and receiving e-mails is one of the avenues of communication at Shodor. Each individual should be aware of and responsible for the information contained therein. Remember, an e-mail can become a permanent record, and its' contents and authorship can be retrieved years later. Therefore, it is important that electronic mail be concise and informative, and possesses integrity. Shodor does not support e-mails that intentionally degrade or contain personal character attacks.
  12. E-mail communications must be done with the Shodor business in mind. How professionally the e-mail is written may well be viewed as a reflection of the author in some way. E-mails sent to non-Shodor recipients may be seen as a reflection of Shodor.
  13. Derogatory e-mails are permanent records and they will have a tendency to confront, or "bite", the author.
  14. Address the following questions -
    • When is it valid to argue in the workplace? - Allow the students give their answers. Their answers should be similar to: Arguing to establish a point of reference, statement of an idea, showing a different approach to solve a problem, or general explanation of a concept for clarity are valid reasons to argue. In this case, arguing is of an informational exchange nature and not of an emotional nature.
    • What should an employee do if he disagrees with the boss? - Listen to the students answers. They should be similar to "The student should meet with the boss.
    • How can unprofessional e-mails harm you in the future? - Since e-mails can be retrieved readily for years, unprofessional e-mails can actually damage an otherwise prosperous career.

Protect Shodor's Valuable Assets

10 minutes

The instructor should enlighten the class of the following items. As a member of the Shodor family, each person has to do his part in protecting, conserving, and properly utilizing Shodor's assets and intellectual property.

  • PCs and MACs should be password protected.
  • Do not share your ID and password.
  • If traveling, keep notebook computers secure as they are theft prone. Lost or stolen PCs can mean many hours of lost work, valuable information, or revenue.
  • Do not handle Shodor assets (PCs, MACs, etc) haphazardly or unprofessionally. Avoid pitching, dropping, slamming, or rough handling of fragile hardware. (Action: Twirl the mouse and slam the CD to indicate unprofessional handling of assets. Have the class respond to the instructor's handling of equipment in this manner.)
  • Use the internet for Shodor permissible activities. Access to streaming video or audio, or to share servers is highly discouraged. This uses bandwidth on Shodor's infrastructure and possibly degrades service to those doing legitimate work. (remind the class of Shodor's policy on engaging in social websites).

Your Job

10 minutes

The instructor should explain each point listed below. Allow the class to participate with questions or comments.

  1. Employee or team member? Are you a team player or just an employee? Employees have to be managed. Team members are led or coached. Shodor's director and staff are geared to be leaders. Are you a part of the Shodor team?
  2. Work with Integrity It is Shodor's expectation that each individual do his best and do it with integrity. It is expected that where ideas are borrowed from another source that the proper credit be given to that source. Plajarism can be a costly act. Conversely, employees are encouraged to bounce ideas off one another in order to develop the best website, or application, or lesson plan, or widget possible. The Shodor family has a wide dispersion of knowledge and experiences available for supporting the various projects and assignments and is here for one another's use. Stealing is one thing. Developing an idea independently of someone else's similar idea is another thing and is acceptable. All standard cars have four wheels and an engine, but they also have their subtle differences designed by their makers. Similarly, ideas at Shodor may legitimately resemble those of other organizations. Teamwork is encouraged as long as each team member is a contributor.
  3. Document Your Work When an Intern or Apprentice produces some amount of work such as creating a program, or a part of an overall project; it is essential that good documentation be associated with the work. Even though a lot of assignments at Shodor are technical in nature, it is a good idea to document the assignment in layman's terms. An individual that has some training in the specific area should easily understand the documentation, but it should not require an expert to unravel or decipher the documentation. Computer programs should be appropriately commented to provide continuity and ease of readability for follow-on Interns and Apprentices who will build on your foundation.
  4. Workshops and Classroom Exercises Some classroom instruction and assignments require individual effort as a measure of the individual's progress. While it may be tempting to cheat, such as on a math test or O/S challenge, it is expected, in this case, that each individual complete his own work independently. Integrity is priceless!
  5. Journal Entries Journal entries should be done with clarity and good grammar. Remember, these are your comments and they are accessible by others. Give good, careful thought on what you enter into your journals. High quality, descriptive narratives are expected of Shodor's professionally developing community.
    Using complete sentences where appropriate usually enhances the flow of the journal entry. Ultimately, the entry is a reflection of the author.
  6. Address the following questions:
    • Why should an employee give credit to a previous author? - Providing ownership of an idea or concept is right and prevents possible lawsuits or monetary loss.
    • Why is it good to fully document your work? - Good documentation provides information, sources, and personnel that can make the job easier for the next person who will be working on the same project.


9 minutes

(Ask the students the following questions.)

  • Explain your work environment in terms of cleanliness, noise, safety, and personal attitudes.
  • Does the work environment foster good work ethics? Why, or why not?
  • What improvements can be made in your individual work area?
  • What things about your environment seem very well orchestrated?
  • If your employee is dishonest, who gets hurt in the long run? Why?
  • How can this course be made more interesting?
  • (Present the ethics homework assignment; responses must be written in paragraph form. Establish a due date. Ethics homework URL:

Follow Up

This course can be combined with "Professional Office Ethics I" to create a seamless two session course.

Alternate Outline

An optional power point file can be used to present the course information.