At what point do employees realize, if at all, that they are making an inappropriate decision? And what interventions are available to help ensure they make the right ones? When employees fail to act with a strong sense of integrity, there are conscious and unconscious factors at play. Leaders should be aware of these in order to create and sustain a corporate culture where doing the right thing becomes second nature.
Any one of us can fall prey to ethical fading or cognitive bias and any one of us can make an inappropriate decision without realizing. These are not the sole preserve of ‘black hat’ managers or ‘the bad guys’. These are challenges faced by top management teams the world over as they strive to create corporate cultures that combine high performance with a strong sense of integrity.
There are two main reasons why we – and the employees of our organizations – might fail to ‘do the right thing’:
Having identified these conscious and unconscious factors, we can look at ways to overcome them. For example, in the context of conscious behaviours, one response would be to hire individuals who because of their character and personality are more likely to display ethical and courageous behaviour. Factor ‘moral compass’ into your recruitment policy – and reward ethical behaviour with retention.
Top management can play a huge role in ensuring their employees act with integrity. Bosses must be extremely mindful of the signals they send - and fail to send.
Building and Nurturing a High Performance – High Integrity Corporate Culture, Manzoni. J, INSEAD Working Paper (2012)
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