What’s all the fuss about ethics? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

What’s all the fuss about ethics?

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

by Morey Stettner

I'm an ethical guy. And you're ethical, too. So let's level with each other: Do we really need to undergo ethical training at work?

In a recent survey of 513 human resource professionals, 23 percent said their employers have a comprehensive ethics and compliance program. Does that mean more than three-fourths of workplaces don't treat ethics seriously?

From my experience as a corporate manager, I've found you don't need a formal program to teach ethics. My old employer enforced ethics the old-fashioned way. Senior executives modeled the kind of impeccable behavior they wanted everyone to emulate, and workers who succumbed to ethical lapses were promptly disciplined.

Today, that's apparently not enough. The survey also reported that 43 percent of HR professionals said ethical conduct is factored into performance appraisals. The assumption is that the remaining 57 percent of employers are irresponsible, sleazy operators.

How dare 57 percent of employers not add ethics to the dozens of other criteria managers must use in performance reviews! You and I both know that performance appraisals take too little of our time as is.

Excuse my cynicism, but you cannot police ethics by beefing up bureaucracy. Some of the most unethical organizations boast of their advanced systems, policies and programs to prevent such misconduct.

If you truly want to create an ethical culture, hire honorable people and praise them for making principled decisions. Highlight examples of ethical moves by the top brass. Take a hard line on employees who engage in abusive behavior toward their peers. Don't look the other way when workers circulate offensive e-mail "jokes," falsify records or snoop on customers.

Bottom Line Idea

Tired of colleagues who skip mandatory meetings? Emblazon their name for all to see. List all absentees in your minutes and as an addendum to any other meeting-related correspondence. It's not enough to include all attendees: Naming no-shows and circulating the list widely might embarrass these people or at least alert them that their repeated absences do not pass unnoticed.


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