3 Takeaways for Improving Culture
A mentor of mine told me that the true character of a person is determined by what he or she does when no one is looking. It is easy to act a particular way when there are eyes on you, anyone could pull off being the ideal example to follow. But would they still be that example if no one saw them?
Ethics are an essential aspect of our character as individuals. Our ethics are the principles that guide us in our everyday lives. Ethics make up our character and our character helps to build our reputation.
The same can be said about an organization. Ethics are the principles that guide our businesses. In order for companies to build and maintain great reputations, there must be strong ethics that are woven into the culture of the organization. It is important to keep in mind that management both as individuals and a collective are responsible for setting the standard for ethical behavior and business practices. Setting the standard also means maintaining the standard and taking swift action when the standard isn’t being followed.
Spending a part of my career in HR, history and experience has shown me that anytime something isn’t done ethically either by an individual or a company, you can be sure that legal action will be taken in some way, shape, or form. A major portion of my time in HR was spent connected to legal. I spoke to attorneys daily about the various situations that took place within the areas of the company that I was responsible for. It didn’t matter if it was a complaint from an employee, a situation a manager was trying to work through, the year-end process, or a change within the organization as a whole, one thing remained consistent, the ethical standard.
In order to build strong ethics and culture within an organization, here are three take aways to consider.
Start from the end. Truly take the time to think about what type of culture you wish to have as an organization. How should employees work? How should they communicate? What access do they have to leadership? Is there a support system in place? Many issues arise when employees feel like they don’t have anywhere to turn if something happens. Even worse if they feel like when they do speak up about a situation, there isn’t any support or guidance.
Strong leadership is needed at every level of the organization. Managers should be the personification of the established culture. They should truly understand the process, enable communication, and providing support to their employees. But managers must also have support coming from the top. They must be able to seek counsel from other managers, HR, and legal. Take a stand and take action when its needed. In my experience, many managers are unwilling to have the difficult conversation. I have had to tell managers there is no easy way around things. Trying to avoid the tough situation wont make it go away. In most cases the situation only gets worse.
This aspect can be easy to overlook but its extremely important. At the end of the day having good ethics and a great culture are always discussed and desired but often missed. The reason for this is the lack of process being laid out for everyone to see and the enforcement of the process across the board. Procedures should be mapped out for every situation that could come up. If something comes up that there currently isn’t a specific process for, there should be something close in nature that could be followed. Not every instance is exactly the same but the process in which situations are handled should be the same. This gives all of the employees within the organization the knowledge and assurance that is needed to ensure that things are being done the right way.