Posted by: healingtheworkplace | July 28, 2012

Code of Conduct More Important Than Ever In Today’s Organizations

Hi there, in my last post I wrote about the challenges of working in an open office. Today I want to give you some more ammunition if you are working in this type of environment and you are finding it stressful and you’re not able to do your best work. Here’s an interesting quote:

“The average worker is interrupted every 11 minutes and it takes 25 minutes to return to the original task.”

This from an article in the NY Times Magazine on October 2005 entitled Meet the Life Hackers by Clive Thompson. This article was written almost 7 years ago and I’m not sure if they were describing an open office but I’m certain that these statistics hold true today.

Although I think that this is really important, today I want to look at something else– I want to write about codes of conduct. There is still way too much unethical and unhealthy behavior in our organizations and it basically comes down to values!

I wrote about codes of conduct in 2008 and again in 2009 and these posts continue to be some of the most popular that I’ve written.  I wonder why?

Creating a code of conduct basically boils down to getting clear on what your organization’s values are and helping your stakeholders (employees, shareholders, board members etc.) get clear about their own values as well. And of course coming to agreement on what values you will all be held accountable to.

Here’s one of many definitions of a code from the www: “a set of conventional principles and expectations that are considered binding on any person who is a member of a particular group.”

Basically a code provides guidelines for the type of behavior that is expected in the organization: how people are expected to treat each other and to treat customers or other stakeholders. It is also an important decision-making tool when there are difficult decisions to be made such as outsourcing employees or deciding whether or not to be involved in something criminal like insider trading. Or for that matter whether or not to harass or bully someone.

Sometimes these codes of conduct are also referred to as codes of ethical behavior.

The key thing here is that you must begin by identifying values—both the organization’s values and the values of the individuals’ involved. This work is necessary, and although time-consuming, if done right, can save your organization time, money, and a lot of heartache in future.

There are added benefits to doing this work. When employees have the same values as the organization and these values are consistently demonstrated by the leadership team everyone experiences greater job satisfaction and are more engaged in the organization.

Kouzes and Posner in their bestselling book The Leadership Challenge provide suggestions on how to do this important work. These suggestions are based on their research. The authors investigated the relationship between personal values clarity, organizational values clarity and outcomes such as commitment and job satisfaction. What they found might surprise you,

“The people who are clear about their personal beliefs but can’t recite the corporate credo are significantly more likely to stick around than are those people who’ve heard the organizational litany but have never listened to their own inner voice. In other words, personal values drive commitment.”

So it is not enough just to focus on your organization’s values if you want to ensure that people act with integrity and are committed to what they do you must take the time to help them understand what they stand for too. Enjoy the rest of your day! Lesley

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