Core values are a company’s internal compass of integrity, work ethic and reliability. They guide them in their pursuit of clients, financial rewards and attracting the right employees. These values are reflected in their interactions with customers (internal and external), process of arriving at decisions, following financial standards and honoring sales and marketing promises.
Have you ever had an employee or boss make a situation worse by lying about it? Then, perpetuate the lie to keep themselves out of trouble? This is an example of not honoring the policies, code of ethics and spirit of many companies. When we tell ourselves and bosses that lies don’t matter, it diminishes the reputation of our company. The truth comes out, eventually!
In a survey recently conducted with people about telling lies in the workplace, we found that most did not have a problem telling their boss about lies if they felt it was the right thing to do or the untruth was negatively impacting their team’s effectiveness. However, when it came to retelling a lie, most felt it was expected to keep their job, client and continue moving up the career ladder, or they were afraid of the repercussions of telling the truth and exposing the lie.
How do you handle and prevent core value violations?
Keep talking. Lies can include the little ones people excuse as unimportant, or omission of the exact facts from your perspective. Unfortunately, being silent causes little lies to build up into big ones, which ultimately hurt the reputation of the company and individuals involved. It can also negatively impact financial solvency. The truth will swing back around to bite the people involved. Stop the perpetuation of a lie. Tell the truth about a situation or issue factually. To create a resolution, talk directly to the person(s) involved with a win-win mindset. Hear their version of the facts. If a mutual agreement cannot be reached, get upper management involved. While they may not recognize the core value being thwarted, be a parrot (aka keep talking). Eventually they will hear you; the same or similar issues are bound to come up again!
Respond with Urgency. A simple lie or unethical act can turn a situation from a molehill into a mountain of upset, grief and even legal action! When someone has done the wrong thing or done the right thing in the wrong manner, it needs to be handled quickly and diplomatically. Most importantly, create a win-win outcome. Remember, there are no absolutes methods for doing the right thing the right way. However, the key to whether your decisions work and make sense will depend upon the perceptions of your customers (internal and external), communities and your particular industry.
Apologize. Simply apologize for your role in the matter. It doesn’t mean you were wrong, or right. Simply acknowledge your role in the issue. Then, start the process of cleaning up the mistake or situation. It is critical that you are open to understanding the issue from their point of view. Be sure to ask the question, “What can we do that will resolve this for you?” Remember, this is the starting question; truly listen to their response. (Hint, if you’re overly worried about litigation, do not be obtuse and defensive about the situation. That kind of attitude will do more to create the need for a lawsuit than the issue itself!)
Use mistakes as a come-down-to-reality opportunity. Many companies ignore their employees’ and bosses’ negative attitudes toward following the company’s systems, policies and practices until an issue arises that causes a key client to leave. Objectively review what worked and didn’t work in the situation. Stay away from blaming others for a lack of perceived integrity due to not following the systems; it’s a no-win hot button. Instead, describe the impact of the situation on customer, co-workers, management and the bottom line. If your employees are unable to understand the significance of their behaviors and make appropriate changes, it will require ongoing training or reassignment of job responsibilities.
Create a prevention mindset. We all live in a reactive workplace. Being proactive is not rewarded until the preventative measure averts a disaster or something serious. Thinking ahead is what will give your company (and people’s careers) the needed boost to achieve a competitive edge. Questions to get you started in this inquiry: What issue do we contend with often? How do we prevent these issues without reducing our customer effectiveness (internal and external)? What training is required to get everyone on the same page? How do we attract and hire the right people with core values that support our company? How do we hire the right top performers using job fit technology? [Find out more about core value assessments and job fit technology by contacting Jeannette @ JLSeibly@SeibCo.com OR visit http://SmartHiringMadeEasy.com]
©Jeannette Seibly, 2011