Want To Take Your Organization to New Heights? Drive Organizational Ethics
Leaders, do you realize how much your personal values affect your organization’s culture and the attitudes, commitments, satisfaction, and effectiveness of its employees? Ethical leadership makes a difference, now more than ever!
Caution: Detour Ahead
Let’s face it. Employee attitudes have been in a virtual free fall lately. One reason is that economic uncertainty, decreasing labor budgets, and increasing benefit costs are forcing organizations to navigate off the beaten path. Since the start of the industrial revolution, there has been an implicit arrangement between companies and workers. That arrangement is obviously changing. Staff sizes are being reduced, full time positions are being converted to part time, benefits premiums are rising exponentially, and wages remain stagnant.
When hours are cut, workloads are increased, and rewards are reduced or eliminated employees may view those changes as a breach of the psychological contract they had with the organization. In other words, the new conditions are not what employees believe they signed up for so they may feel cheated or even deceived, especially when leadership doesn’t explain the rationale for those changes.
Danger! When employees believe their psychological contract has been violated and they feel short-changed or exploited they are less likely to exhibit constructive behaviors and more likely to engage in deviant, destructive behaviors. That presents a clear and present danger to your organization.
To make matters worse, when employees believe their leaders are withholding information, deceiving or cheating them -whether or not those perceptions are founded in reality- a norm of reciprocity causes some to engage in what is called reciprocal deviance, which includes work slowdowns, theft, sabotage, and other harmful and disruptive actions.
The Higher Road Leads to Better Results
Fortunately, the values you emphasize, demonstrate, and promote can make a world of difference. Do your employees know you care about them? Do your actions reflect your character? Do your employees understand the changing business environment and employment landscape and how it affects ALL employees? Transparency is key.
Research by the foremost authorities on employee motivation, including Herzberg, Vroom, Adams, and others suggests that ethical leadership traits such as openness, honesty, transparency, empathy, humility, courage, and accountability are correlated with highler employee morale. Research further concludes that when employees perceive an employer to be ethical, they experience higher levels of engagement, satisfaction, productivity, and retention!
By being open, setting an ethical tone at the top, and personally demonstrating ethical leadership traits you will not only shape wholesome organizational values and promote ethics and compliance for your company, you will create a culture of integrity in which your employees thrive, contribute, and produce in very tangible ways. Ethical leadership makes a difference. Take your organization to new heights; take the higher road.