Communicating Honest & Ethical Values

Do you consider yourself an ethical person?  What about your integrity, is it above reproach?


Most of us like to think of ourselves as being honest and ethical.  Well, chances are that if you hold any type of top managerial position, there is a good probability that your employees may  likely see you differently.


According to KPMG’s 2013 Integrity Survey of more than 3,500 United States working adults:


  • Nearly three out of four employees reported that they had observed misconduct within their organizations in the previous 12 months, and nearly half of those employees were uncertain that they would be protected from retaliation if they reported concerns to management.


  • Some of the driving forces behind fraud and misconduct in the corporate environment include pressure to do “whatever it takes” to meet targets, not taking the code of conduct seriously, believing employees will be rewarded based upon results and not the means used to achieve them, and fear of losing one’s job for not meeting performance targets. 

There is no question that over the past couple of years that dishonesty, corruption, and lying by government officials and private industry leaders have created a high level of distrust in the ways our leaders in general deal with honesty and ethical issues.


Having been in the consulting business for over three decades, we have worked in all types of organizations and have seen first-hand a variety of managers at work within their respective areas.  Certainly, we have encountered a few dishonest and unethical managers who would take advantage of any circumstances which would benefit them personally. However, we have also found that the greater majority truly care and attempt to do the right thing. 


     When we look at companiesin general, we find that some have done a great job in communicating and demonstrating their values as they relate to honesty and ethics, while others have done very little in making their positions within this area clear.     Simply being honest and ethical is not enough in today’s world.  As a manager and leader, you must communicate and reinforce those values to all of your employees.  Here is one example of a company that is consistent in ‘spreading the word’ as to senior management’s expectations as related to maintaining a high level of honesty and ethics. Their process gets underway at the point of hire.  Drug tests are given; references and criminal backgrounds checked; and once the initial portion is completed, the Human Resources recruiter has the new hire review and sign a statement of understanding regarding honesty; various theft prevention policies are reviewed; and that company’s confidential ‘hot-line’ program is discussed. Management within this organization works very hard in consistently demonstrating and communicating their values as they relate to honesty and ethics.  We believe this strong commitment is reflected in this company’s lower than average turnover rate, and the loyalty found throughout the organization.


In the simplest of terms: As a manager, always set a good example by demonstrating your values; Make certain that all coworkers know and understand the company’s definition of what is honest and what is dishonest;  No double standards; Frequently discuss and review ways for employees to report concerns of confidential nature via a ‘hot-line’;   Develop some method of showing employees that issues of concern are fairly and promptly dealt with.  One manager we know has someone take notes during his general meetings and to document employee concerns and issues in need of attention.  This list is then placed on a bulletin board in the break room for all to see.  One by one, each issue is responded to.  It is obvious that this manager truly cares about and responds to employee concerns.   $


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