Subscribe to My Feed   Follow Me On Twitter   Join Me On LinkedIn   Friend Me On Facebook

How Are Your Company Ethics?

When ethics at the top are questionable, you can pretty much guarantee they will be questionable throughout the organization. Poor ethics trickles down. If it’s good enough for those at the top, it’s good enough for the rest of the organization.

For example, let’s assume there are specific policies around vacation and sick time. Yet, consistently one employee in the organization is always taking vacation outside of the policy requirements or consistently is sick on days before holidays. Nothing is done to address the issue because he is a great performer – he is one of the top sales folks. The policy is inconsistently enforced.

Or, let’s assume that there are specific policies in place around refunds for products purchased by the customer. Yet, one customer, who has a strong connection with one of the executives, is always managing to get refunded outside of the policy. And when he doesn’t get his way, he reaches out to the executive to complain.

Or, one more example – let’s assume that the company is in the middle of a large acquisition. All employees have been told that there can be no vacation taken during the two weeks before and two weeks after the acquisition. However, two of the members of the leadership team are taking vacation during that “no vacation” time period. When one of their employees mentioned that she already had plans to take a couple of days off for her friend’s wedding, she was told she could not do so as all employees were needed in the office and she should cancel her plans.

It’s easy to state – in a mission statement, vision statement, in company policy or just in a conversation – that ethics are of importance to the organization. But do any of these little things – or something similar – and you are just not “walking the talk.” It’s easy to get into a “do as I say, not as I do” mentality, but let’s be honest – that never really works, does it. Additionally, you can’t hide the ethics at the top. Try as you might as a leader, I guarantee that the employees see what is going on.  And guess what…customers will notice it also.

If the ethics at the top are questionable, it’s time to make a change and get your business back on track. Take these steps to get back on track:

  1. Find out where the problems are and move forward to begin to address them.
  2. Review your policies – create news ones where needed and tighten up the ones that need a bit of tightening up.
  3. Release your draft policies throughout the organization, acknowledge that there have been issues (specifics are not needed) and what is being done to correct those issues, avoid them in the future. Ask for input from employees – what will work, what will not? What would they add to the policies?
  4. Finalize your policies and ensure they include information on how they will be enforced.
  5. Enforce them! When someone breaks a policy, go back to the policy and enforce it. If you allow people to get away with violations, you have another ethics problem!

Comments are closed.