Management Style: Dealing With Unethical Behavior in the Workplace

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thUTVM5S72To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.– Douglas Adams

In this Brave New Business World, in which International Business Deals are accomplished with the flick of a button on a keyboard, do the majority of employees in the workplace believe that the words of Douglas Adams still hold true?

And, if they don’t, how do we, as Vice-Presidents, Directors, and Managers, fix that?

Back in January of this year, Kessler International released the results of a nationwide survey, outlining the current state of manners, etiquette, and ethics in the workplace.

They surveyed upper and mid-level management at 40 professional services firms.

Those polled held the belief, by an 84 percent margin, that their employees were inconsiderate and rude in the workplace. Additionally, the same respondents cited by 65 percent that they felt a majority of their staff lacked a moral compass.

Kessler asked individuals to anonymously comment on their employees’ use of personal electronic devices, dress, manners, ethics and level of respect for other employees.

This resulted in some of the respondents expressing their disgust of certain individuals on their staff, as well as their ineffectiveness and unwillingness to say something and correct the situation.

Among their excuses for not being able to correct the problem of unethical behavior by their employees were their company’s policy of “political correctness,” their own inability to have confrontation, and constraints instituted by their human resources department.

Among the items that most of the respondents cited, were:

1- untimely and inappropriate use of cellphones

2- wearing inappropriate clothing to work

3- complete lack of courtesy

4- use of street talk and signs in professional meetings

5- the inability of younger staff to write a letter/email

6- the lack of personal responsibility

7- failure to say please and thank you

8- lying to phone caller

9- hanging up on phone calls when they are confronted and were uncomfortable

10- cheating on time billed to clients and stealing time by arriving late and leaving early

11- cutting corners on work product rather than staying after hours to correct the mistakes they made

12- visiting sex and dating websites on company time

13- sexting on company phones

14- the inability to interact professionally with clients during a business function

15- the lack of manners

16- the lack of integrity

United States President Harry S. Truman had a famous plaque on his desk which read,

The Buck Stops Here

As an experienced leader of men and women, in the military, the workplace, and, as President of the United States of America, Truman knew that as a manager of employees, you are held responsible not only for heir behavior, but, what you do about it.

In her book “7 Lenses: Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership (Leading in Context, 2013),” author Linda Fisher Thornton offers the following advice on how leaders can integrate the practice of ethical conduct into their organizations.

1. Face the complexity involved in making ethical choices: Openly discuss the ethical gray areas and acknowledge the complexity of work life. Involve others in more of the ethical decisions. Be a leader who talks about the difficult ethical choices, and help others learn to take responsibility for making ethical decisions carefully.

2. Don’t separate ethics from day-to-day business: Leaders must make it clear to their employees that ethics is “the way we operate” and not a training program or reference manual. Every activity, whether it is a training program, a client meeting or an important top management strategy session, should include conversations about ethics.

3. Don’t allow negative interpersonal behaviors to erode trust: Make respect a load-bearing beam in your culture. Be an ethical leader who expects it and practices it. Cultivate a respectful environment in which people can speak up about ethics and share the responsibility for living it. Build trust, demand open communication and share the ownership of organizational values.

4. Don’t think about ethics as just following laws and regulations: Leaders need to take action and show consumers and other stakeholders that they are actively engaged with ethical issues that matter. Recognize how ethics influences consumers’ reasons to buy from you, and demonstrate a commitment to go beyond mere compliance with laws and regulations. They must prove that they are committed to ethical issues, including human rights, social justice and sustainability.

5. Don’t exempt anyone from meeting ethical expectations: Allow no excuses. Make sure that no one is exempted from meeting the ethical standards that are adopted. Maintain the status of ethics as a total, absolute, “must do” in the organization. Hold everyone, particularly  senior leaders and high profile managers, accountable. No exceptions.

6. Celebrate positive ethical moments: Be a proactive ethical leader, championing high ethical conduct and emphasizing prevention. Managers should talk about what positive ethics looks like in practice as often as they talk about what to avoid. Take time to celebrate positive ethical choices.

7. Talk about ethics as an ongoing learning journey, not a once-a-year training program: Integrate ethics into every action of the organization — everything people do, touch or influence. Talk about ethics as an ongoing learning journey, not something you have or don’t have. Recognize that the world changes constantly, and that ethical conduct requires that everyone remain vigilant.

As leaders, it is our job to protect our companies’ revenue streams, as well as to keep and cultivate the trust which our clients place with us.

We cannot perform our duties effectively, if we have to constantly be on the look out for unethical behavior in our “home away from home”, our workplace environment.

Hopefully, these tips, which I have presented today, will help us, as leaders, foster an atmosphere of trust and shared expectations, smoothing out the journey down the road to success.

Never give up. Never surrender.

-Allen

Allen Fitzhugh is Director of Sales at Candlewood Suites-Memphis. He can be reached at dos@cwsmemphis.com.

What the Heck Are Employers Looking For In a Potential Employee?

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Unemployment15One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation. –Arthur Ashe

Whether you’re a fresh-faced neophyte, fresh out of college, or a grizzled veteran of the Business World, like myself, there is a universal question, which we all ask ourselves, while we are in the midst of a job search:

What the heck are employers looking for in a potential employee?

In a 2009 survey, commissioned by Careerbuilder.com and Robert Half International, American Employers said that aside from having the basic job qualifications, multitasking (36 percent), initiative (31 percent) and creative thinking (21 percent) are the most important characteristics in a job applicant. In that survey, they also asked six “workplace experts” to list 10 of the most common reasons employers hire employees, in no particular order.

The list topics are their’s. The analysis (including any smart-alack remarks that may pop up) is mine.

1. Long-term potential

Businesses are always looking to the future. They want to know if you will be able to grow professionally as an employee of their company? Will you be an asset, whose worth to the company increases with every passing year?

Or, will you take advantage of their free training and on-the-job experience and head off to greener pastures within a couple of years?

It’s a cliché that you have probably heard before, I know, but, hiring a new employee is an investment.

2. Ability to work well with others

One of the definitions of the word “corporation” is “any group of persons united or regarded as united in one body”. While your potential employer wants you to be a success and an asset to their business, if you are….ummm…a jerk or a drama queen…you will be more trouble than you are worth, and will be “shown the door”, with or without the “appropriate disciplinary procedures”, depending on how mad the powers-that-be are with you.

3. Ability to make money

Well…Duuuh. Do you think that they are going to hire you for your good looks? Unless you’re Christie Brinkley, that is. (Google her, kids.)

4. Impressive résumé

Whether you have the experts at a website like careerbuilder.com build a resume for you, or you ask a talented friend to help you,the fact remains that your resume unlocks the door to your professional future. It can be your “good first impression”.

5. Relevant work experience

If you want to travel in a new direction in your career, you have to show the potential employer that you have performed similar activities to the requirements they list in their job description. Somehow, you have to show them that your professional background makes you a viable candidate for their open position.

6. Creative problem-solving skills

As I used to tell the younger folks whom I managed, “There is more than one way to skin a cat.” Of course, their usual response was to look a me like a deer in headlights, But, I digress…

Basically, your potential employer is looking for the ability to “think out of the box”.

7. Strong online presence

Yes, boys and girls, they will be looking at your Facebook Pages, your Twitter Account, and your Personal Blogs. It is a great way for employers to find out who you actually are, and if the private individual matches the person they are interviewing.

8. Multitaskers who thrive on variety of projects

Just how mentally agile are you? Employers want to hire someone who can prioritize, organize, and produce. Employers do not want to hire someone whose work style is reminiscent of Lucy and Ethel at the Chocolate Factory.

9. Enthusiasm and initiative

“On it, Boss!” are the words than an employer wants to hear, when they give their employee a task to be accomplished. However, they not only want you to be able to follow orders, they want you to be able to anticipate them. Your potential employer wants you not only to be able to contribute to the bottom line, but also to be able to lead by example.

10. Good cultural fit

Employers want to hire someone who can hit the ground running, fitting into their Corporate Culture as seamlessly as possible.For example, an employer would not hire Stone Cold Steve Austin to be the host of a Tea Room: “Are you two going to have a seat, or am I gonna have to lay the smackdown on ya?”

John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was the 30th President of the United States. Known as “Silent Cal”, he was a quite, introspective man, who spoke very little. However, when he did speak, he spoke volumes:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race.

Therefore, in conclusion, as I am experiencing in my own job search, your success in finding meaningful employment will depend on how much effort you are willing to put in.

The preceding list is a very helpful tool. But the list, in and of itself,  will not land you a job.

Do your due diligence. Be prepared.

Do your “homework” concerning the company  that you are interviewing with.

Never give up. Never surrender.

Press on.

-Allen