Fear in the air
We were once contacted by someone from an organisation we had spoken to previously about our Raise and Resolve anonymous communications solution. At the time of our initial approach the response from that organisation had been “We are confident we have all necessary means for our staff to raise issues and concerns as they need to”.
The person who contacted us was in a pretty agitated state – “I have been asked to complete a survey , but been told by my manager that if I need to raise any issues, I must not do so in the survey but should discuss it directly with management, otherwise it will be recorded”
I could understand why they were agitated. Here is an example of a fundamental breakdown of trust, not just affecting this person’s wellbeing, but possibly the whole organisation, causing, at least in this employee’s case, the feeling of helplessness, and possibly despair at where to go next. A prime example of a manager who is not getting integrity right!
This got me thinking about some of the issues around organisational and individual integrity and what happens when it breaks down. Sometimes that can be people or organisations which just did not really have any to start with, sadly they are unlikely to read this article anyway. So this is targeted at those who do have decency at their core, but show that all too human failing of drifting off course occasionally, without stopping to contemplate the damage they may do – both to themselves and others.
Ways of getting integrity right
1.Good governance starts at the top
Leaders lead. They set the agenda; they set the direction; they set the tone. Good leaders cannot set themselves above the rules or principles of good governance. Without clear lines and total buy in, lapses in behaviour seep into an organisation. When that lapse of behaviour is at the top it doesn’t just seep into the organisation it floods right through it, coursing toxically to the heart of the organisation. Setting an example cuts both ways – good and bad.
2. Integrity is rock solid
Integrity is one of four or five key building blocks for great organisations, great leaders and great managers. Get this right, unwaveringly, and you will be well placed to enjoy triumph and stave off disaster (apologies to Rudyard Kippling) whatever life brings.
3. Beware – integrity is brittle
You cannot trade away a little bit of your integrity, it’s pretty much all or nothing. Rather like a Ming vase, it’s incredibly valuable but take a chip out of it and you have pretty much destroyed its worth.
4. Small actions have big consequences
I don’t know how significant this survey was or still is to that person who got in touch, however, a bad taste has now been left in the business, the culture and trust tainted in that person’s eyes; it is NEVER OK to cover up, miss-present or doctor information. Go down that road and you will open Pandora’s box and ultimately reap what you have sown.
5. Poor governance kills engagement
One of the five top things people expect from leaders is a high level of integrity. They want leaders and managers they are proud to work for and with. Do you want to work with someone you feel is liberal with the truth, who manipulates, covers up and ultimately hides information, however charismatic they are? Or do you want to work for someone who, when they tell you something, you have not a doubt in the world it’s true? When you see your leader or manager manipulate or lie not only are you ashamed by association but you will always be waiting for that moment they turn on you.
6. The public disclosure test
I have a fairly straightforward rule of thumb – if you were in public, say in a court room – could you sit there and present your actions entirely matter of fact and truthfully, or would you need to put an angle, a spin, on it to effect how your actions are really perceived. If the latter, then don’t go there. Simple.
Thank you to anonymous
This Article is dedicated to the person who contacted us to bring this to our attention. It is people like you who inspire us to work every day to build WorkInConfidence and drive us to help organisations eliminate communication barriers and boost employee involvement. We hope you find a way forward and stay connected enough to change behaviours around you.
If you found this article of interest, you may also like:
Ebook: Employee Voice, Understand how to hear it better
Ebook: Building a successful speaking up culture
This article has been updated.