What do Hewlett Packard’s spy operations, Wells Fargo’s fake customer accounts, and Mylan Pharmaceutical’s price-gouging all have in common?
A lapse in Business Ethics.
What does “Business Ethics” mean? The short definition is a moral code of conduct companies adopt and pledge to follow. “Ethical Standards forbid tolerance of and participation in activities considered immoral, unlawful, unfair, dangerous, irresponsible and generally harmful.” Businesses can lower the risk of becoming lawsuit targets by setting ethical standards.
First things first, Accountable Leadership is key to any business. Businesses that are considered to be “ethical” have a high moral code and expect honest and trustworthy behavior from everyone in their organizations. Whether they are Chief Executive Officers or other high-level company leaders, it’s required that they hold themselves accountable for following and enforcing the same ethical standards as their employees.
Author Laurie Haughey of “Athletes Off the Field: A Model for Team Building and Leadership Development Through Service Learning,” cites 5 high-standard goals of ethical leaders:
- Communication in which ethical behavior is both carried out and instilled in a company’s brand.
- High-quality products & services that everyone in the organization takes responsibility for producing.
- Collaboration with diverse groups of advisors.
- Succession planning in which future company leaders pledge to maintain ethical behavior.
- Tenure – which requires leaders to work for the company in the most ethical way until they decide to leave.
The next question you will want to ask is, “What does acceptable conduct look like?”
Through internal rules of conduct, businesses can maintain ethical workplace behavior. A good way for companies to establish rules of conduct, so that everyone is aware and is held to the same standards, is to publish a Rules of Conduct policy in their Employee Handbook and require employee’s to sign agreements stating that they read and understood the rules and consequences for violating them. It’s up to managers to run an “Ethical Office.” Companies who are considered to have an “ethical office” promote honesty and trust in communicating with employees, directors, stockholders, and customers.
A lapse in ethics has led some businesses to exaggerate their earnings, products’ capabilities, and stock values due to companies bending to the pressures of meeting sales goals. A lot of times, companies overpromise and under deliver their services. Nowadays, customers are more vigilant and less accepting of unethical behavior, leaving it up to organizations to conduct themselves based on a higher moral code.
HR can head up ethics initiatives in their organizations. HR knows how to help employers behave like good corporate citizens for their employees and the surrounding communities, and operate within the law.
Bolden-Barrett, V. (2017, March 17). The keys to running an ethical organization. Retrieved March 20, 2017, from http://www.hrdive.com/news/the-keys-to-running-an-ethical-organization/438355/
All these skills apply regardless of your current job status, role, title, or position. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting an entry-level position, a manager, or the Vice President of your company. All levels can benefit from these 6 leadership skills.
- Embracing Politics
I know what you may be thinking… Yes, politics in an office can have a negative connotation associated with it, but it can be used for good too. At it’s core, it’s about building relationships with the people you work with. There are many different types of power and influence that exists in an organization, but there are three that stand out when talking about politics in an organization.
- Role Power
This is also referred to as “legitimate power” and is very hard to change in a company. It refers to where you sit in an organizational chart. It asks the questions; who reports to you, who do you report to, and who does your yearly performance evaluation?
- Expertise Power
This refers to who perceives you to be knowledgeable about a certain subject they care about. The key word here is, “perception.” You could be really knowledgeable about a subject but if people don’t perceive you to be knowledgeable in that subject, then you do not have “expertise power.” There may be times when you wonder why a certain individual received a promotion or how that person got into that position. This happens all too often. At some point, someone who had the “role power” to make that decision, perceived these people to be experts, even though they might not be. A lot of times this happens because the person had a relationship with the decision maker, which brings me to the third power,
- Relationship Power
This is the most important power for you to develop, because it transcends the organizational chart. You can develop relationship power with anyone, at anytime. The first step to get them to follow you is to get them to like you. Take the time to get to know other people even outside your own department. Use the people you get to know, but don’t “use” them so that the relationship is one-sided. The relationship should be a reciprocal relationship. Think about yourself as being a service to others. The goal is to fundamentally lift them up to help them succeed. The energy you put out, will come back to you. When you adopt that kind of service mentality, that’s embracing the good kind of office politics.
- Role Power
- Picking Your Battles
This skill goes hand-in-hand with office politics. You have to know when to hold them and when to fold them. You can gain political capital by building relationships, but you can just as easily blow it all by choosing to fight too many battles. Save the political capital up for the times that really matter and those times are when they directly contribute to advancing your priorities. Don’t sweat the small things, instead focus on the things that allow you to get you where you want to go.
- Crafting Your Vision
Battles you choose to fight all depend on what you’re trying to achieve. Great leaders have a plan and need to establish a clear set of goals. It’s important to have a sense of purpose, know what it’s going to take and how to articulate it simply to your team. If you can’t articulate it correctly, they may not jump on board. Remember, just because it makes sense to you, doesn’t mean it will make sense to them. Be Bold. Leaders are meant to inspire people and if you accomplish that, they will be more likely to show up and do their best work.
- Build Alignment
Great leaders bring other people along with them. Companies gain buy-in from different levels of people within the organization. That means communicating the big picture to everyone who needs to be involved. This ensures that everyone who wants to be involved has that chance to be included and anyone who doesn’t, can opt out. Include the reasoning behind your methods and really encourage questions. A lot of people are going to have a lot of ideas and make good points and so it’s important for you to remain open-minded. This is also a chance to look for opportunities to collaborate with them or refine your vision.
- Inspiring Execution
At this point, you know where you’re going, you have your group of people, and now it’s time to see your vision through and to do that, you have to create a tactical execution plan that illustrates what’s expected from each person. Make sure to give feedback along the way and set the example through your own behavior.
- Learn To Give Up Control
How you execute a vision or a plan is critical, but don’t mistake it for micro-managing. Leaders set goals and empower the people around them with the resources and support they need to get the job done. Even if you see them doing something different then what you would do, it doesn’t mean they’re doing it wrong and it doesn’t mean it won’t work. Don’t control them into doing it your way. Instead, ask questions and try to see it from their point of view.
If you don’t achieve your goal or see it through like you thought, you have the opportunity to learn from it and make improvements for the next time around. The only failure that really happens is the one we don’t learn from. Even if you let your people execute it the way they wanted, bring them along with you. They will learn something they didn’t know before. That’s going to set them up for future success. That, at the core, is what being a leader is really about.
Borysenko, Karlyn. “Human Strategies Podcast #11: Six Critical Leadership Skills That Will Take Your Career to the next Level.” Audio blog post. Zen Workplace. N.p., 3 Jan. 2016. Web. 9 Aug. 2016.
With HR Strategies powerful integrated on-site support and personal service, clients can rest assured that the responsibilities of payroll have been handled completely and accurately, even in the most adverse conditions. In February 2011, a large portion of Georgia, and therefore Metro Atlanta, experienced heavy snow and extreme winter conditions which are unusual for the area. Metro Atlanta, including Duluth where HR Strategies is headquartered, is not used to extreme winter conditions and can easily have its roads and infrastructure crippled by large amounts of snow. The snow storm that affected Georgia in February of 2011 was dubbed “snowpocalypse”, and caused many school and business closings for several days. While employees may have enjoyed having a few extra days at home, they still needed to get their scheduled paychecks. Employers were already worried about loss of revenue from being closed for business, and the thought of having disgruntled employees from a delay in payroll was an added worry on their shoulders.
HR Strategies understood the need for client employees to be paid, and the need for the client to have one less business concern during the stress of an unforeseen circumstance prohibiting business and life “as usual”. On the Friday before the big storm, HR Strategies staff came together and devised a plan to ensure that payroll processes, and all other client needs, would be met in case of inclement weather. On Monday, when it seemed that the world had closed down in Georgia, HR Strategies was armed and ready for business as usual. Beginning that morning, payroll specialists were busy getting to work, only this time it was in their homes. The entire staff took advantage of their ability to work remotely and were able to continue business as usual, to the best of their abilities from home. Payroll specialists took hours over their cell phones from clients, ran the processes and reports, sent direct deposit and bank files, all from home. They were able to keep in contact with each other and the rest of HR Strategies staff through conference calls, and ensure that all clients were handled. The owner and CEO of HR Strategies, along with one designated payroll specialist, was able to make it to the office to pick up live checks and reports that had generated to be packaged for clients. These live checks were then hand delivered by the owner to the client locations, as most courier services (i.e. FedEx, UPS) were not operating on time or at all during the extreme conditions. Over the next three days HR Strategies continued to make sure that all of their client payrolls were handled accurately and on-time from remote locations.
Dedication, team work, and planning enabled HR Strategies to go above and beyond to ensure that their clients and client employees were paid, and their needs met. HR Strategies was able to pull together and use their resources and remote capabilities in order to deliver at a time when most services were unable to. Through the dedication of the whole team, clients were able to experience that HR Strategies provides exceptional service.
HR Strategies offers a variety of human resource solutions to their clients. One of the most sought after solutions by clients is Workers’ Compensation administration. Through Workers’ Compensation administration, HR Strategies is able to aid their clients with not only procurement and management, but also with claims administration among other facets of WC. The wide range of WC administration services recently provided a client peace of mind and ease in handling an injury. HR Strategies’ client had an employee that fell at work on a Saturday, resulting in multiple injuries. In pain, the employee became frustrated wondering where he could go for treatment without having to wait in an emergency room for hours, and without having to pay for the treatment out of pocket since he did not have the insurance carrier information with him. In addition to the employees pain and fret over out of pocket expenses, the employee was concerned that if he was not able to see a doctor that day that he would end up missing time from work and future wages.
The supervisor remembered that as a client of HR Strategies he had been given a card, which he kept in his wallet, instructing him on what to do in case of an injury. As the card instructed, he called the 24- hour claims reporting number and was able to make contact with HR Strategies to assist with the claim. The injured employee was directed to an Urgent Care facility near his work and was able to receive prompt attention for his injuries. HR Strategies was available to authorize the visit and provide the office with carrier information; as well as to verify the injury for the pharmacy to process the prescriptions.
By the client allowing HR Strategies to perform their workers’ compensation administrative needs and claims management, an injured employee was able to receive prompt medical attention and return to work the next business day. Not only did this benefit the employee, with no actual time lost from work; but also the employer as the overall cost of the claim was minimal and there was no loss in productivity or profit.