Managers play a key role in the adherence of employees to the company code of conduct. A company without a sense of workplace ethics is doomed to fail, especially when some employees adhere to the code of conduct and others seem to disregard it in its entirety. To avoid such an epidemic in your company, it is important to understand the role that you play as a manager in the workplace dynamic when it comes to ethics.
More than 40 percent of workers said they had observed on-the-job misconduct that violated standards
It is deeply unfortunate that several, if not most, corporations come up lacking when it comes to workplace ethics. The Ethics and Compliance Initiative conducts a survey called the National Business Ethics Survey of the U.S. Workforce. In the latest survey, more than 40 percent of workers said they had observed on-the-job misconduct that violated standards. Of these, only 63 percent reported what they saw to a superior. Of the reported misconduct, 60 percent involved someone of managerial authority, and 25 percent involved senior managers. Disturbingly, of those who reported misconduct to a superior, 21 percent reported that they experienced some form of retaliation.
Retaliation for reporting a violation
Retaliation for reporting a violation of the employee code of conduct is disgraceful and unacceptable behavior, not to mention yet another violation of the code of conduct. A manager’s job is to uphold and demonstrate this code of conduct to the employees that they manage. To even consider retaliation for a report on a shortcoming that a manager is exhibiting is a critical shortcoming of a corporation. In order to talk about what managers should be doing when it comes to the code of conduct, firstly we must acknowledge what such a code is supposed to be in the grand scheme of a company.
What should codes of conduct include?
What is it that should appear in an employee code of conduct? First and foremost, the essential quality that all codes of conduct should include is integrity. Being honest and having strong moral principles is the cornerstone of any code of conduct. These codes should also include professionalism, discipline, a high quality of work, responsibility, and teamwork. When combined, these characteristics make for a morally upright corporation as well as morally responsible employees. This is precisely what a code of conduct should strive to achieve in its existence. However, such a code is worthless if employees do not feel a need or a duty to comply with it.
Your codes of conduct should be consistent
It is essential that this code is the same across the board. Senior managers should be held to the same standard as new hires, no matter their position or level of seniority. Standardizing the rules and regulations of the code of conduct creates a sense of clarity in the workplace that will be missing if more senior-level employees are allowed to skirt around the rules. It is important to note that such a code of conduct does not exist in its purpose to punish employees. It exists as a set of expectations that the company sets forth for the betterment of itself and of its employees. As such, holding everyone in the corporation to the same level of expectation creates a sense of unity when presenting the code of conduct. It’s more than simply a set of rules. It is something that employees should be able to take pride in and feel good talking about. It’s something that should allow the corporation to improve.
Codes should be communicated to employees
This is why it is so important, especially as managers, to communicate ethics expectations to employees. If an employee isn’t familiar with the code of conduct, there is no way that they can follow it. Be sure to openly introduce the code to new hires, perhaps as a part of the hiring process or as a part of their orientation. Make it clear that adherence to the policies are essential to the workplace that they are joining. Hold meetings for lower-level employees to reintroduce them to the concepts listed in the code and answer any questions that the employees might have. Be transparent about the requirements that the code puts in place, and make sure that each and every employee understands what is expected of them.
Managers should model the behavior they want to see in their employees
As a manager, it is your duty to model the behavior that you want to see exhibited in your employees. You cannot expect your employees to uphold a code of conduct to which you yourself do not adhere. Bad habits can be learned easily, and those that you exhibit in front of your employees can and will easily be modeled in their behavior. To have employees with a high sense of integrity, you must first show a strong sense of integrity in an outward manner that they can then model in their own lives, both in and outside of the workplace.
Managers should reward good behavior
Make sure that you openly reward good behavior in your employees. Perhaps print some certificates for integrity or good workplace ethics and hand them out at meetings, publicly praising those employees who do well in their adherence to the code of conduct. Motivate your employees to do better by rewarding them when they do, and you will see the environment of your workplace shift drastically. Rewarding those who do well will inspire others to strive toward the same level of excellence in what they do. Make sure that you reward everyone who does well, and not just those with whom you feel a personal bond. Consider creating a recommendation system in which your employees can nominate one another for their workplace conduct.
Communication should be constant
It is important to keep constant communication between management and employees when it comes to workplace ethics. Make sure that you are creating an environment in which employees feel as though they can come to you to report an infraction without experiencing retaliation against them for doing so. Make your office a safe space for open and honest communication with those that you supervise. Furthermore, be certain that your employees feel comfortable enough to tell you about the good as well as the bad without feeling like they are bothering you or intruding upon your time. Keeping the line of communication open is perhaps the best way to ensure adherence to the code of conduct.
Managers are responsible for employees behavior
Creating an environment in which it is applauded to adhere to the workplace ethics put forth by the code of conduct is essential to the health of any company. As a manager, it is your duty to make sure that your employees are responding well to the code and doing everything they can to adhere to it. Following the steps outlined above will provide you with an excellent start to understanding where your company can improve and in setting those improvements into motion.
When basic workplace ethics practices don’t work
When managers understand workplace ethics, it creates a drastically better team. Following these guidelines should ensure your team performs well, but sometimes you have a special case on your hands. Some teams are disconnected in a way that more guidance is needed to bring them back together. If this is the case for your team, it might be necessary to hire an executive coach to bring your team together for a successful future.
If you feel like you need more guidance for your team, contact SourcePoint Coaching for a free consultation to see if working together is the best next step for you.