Guiando el comportamiento organizativo
Guiando el Comportamiento Corporativo: Una Obligacion del Liderazgo, No Una Opcion Cada ano The Conference Board lleva a cabo una encuesta de lideres de negocios globales para aprender de sus puntos de vista sobre los retos actuales en las empresas. Este ano cerca de 700 CEOs (Chief Executive Officers) informaron que estaban “mas preocupados con los tipos de decisiones y acciones que son adecuadas para un epoca de problemas y transparencia: actuar con prudencia financiera, tratar de sacarle mas provecho a la tecnologia disponible, y construir un nexo de confianza con empleados y clientes. Hubo un aumento significante en la importancia de “darle al los empleados una vision o valores” (del 21% al 26%) entre 2001 y 2002, la cual es la cuarta inquietud mas frecuentemente mencionada (despues de fidelidad y retencion de clientes, reduccion de costos, y hacer crecer la flexibilidad y velocidad”). Es bueno saber que los lideres corporativos estan reconociendo una creciente necesidad de lograr que los empleados se conecten conla vision y valores de la organizacion, pero bajo las circunstancias actuales que se acercan es poco probable que sea suficiente.
De hecho, los metodos tradicionales de “hand off” y “hands off” que los ejecutivos han utilizado en el
Cerca de un tercio de quienes respondieron, sin embargo, dijerons que las afirmaciones publicas de sus empresas a veces entraban en conflict con mensajes internos y la realidad, y el 36% dijo que su organizacion siempre haria lo que es legal pero no siempre lo que sea pericibido como etico. Claramente, cambiar esta percepcion—o realidad—es un componente vital para restaurar la confianza en el liderazgo estadounidense y sus organizaciones. ?significa esto que los lideres deben ahora ignorar la cantidad de procesos que son necesarios para encaminar una organizacion?
Por supuesto que no, y ni siquiera significa que ellos tienen que microgerenciar esos procesos. Pero si significa que los ejecutivos deben tener una mejor comprension de la iteraccion entre las practicas operacionales de su organizacion y los resultados generados por esos procesos. Tambien significa que estos ejecutivos deben tener una metodologia especifica para asegurar que las decisiones estan siendo tomadas por todos los miembros de la organizacion reflejan los principios y estrategia adecuados.
Los valores principales y liderazgo visionario de los Criterios Barldridge 2002 para la Excelencia en el Desempeno nos dicen “Los lideres principales de una organizacion deben plantear las direcciones y crear un enfoque al consumidor, valores claros y visibles, y altas expectativas. Las direcciones, valores y expectativas deben balancear las necesidades de todas las partes involucradas. Los lideres deben asegurar la creacion de estrategias, sistemas y metodos para alcanzar la excelencia, estimulando la inovacion y creando conocimiento y capacidades.
Los valores y estrategias deben ayudar a a guiar todas las actividades y decisiones de la organizacion. Los lideres principales deben inspirar y motivar a toda la fuerza laboral y deberian motivar a todos los empleados a contribuir, a desarrollar y aprender, a ser innovadores y creativos. Los lideres principales deben servir como modelos a seguir a traves de su compartamiento etico y su desenvolvimiento personal en la planificacion, comunicacion, coacheo, desarrollando lideres del future, evaluando el desempeno organizacional, y liderando, comprometiendose, y con iniciativa a traves de la organizacion.
La clave del exito esta en la coneccion entre el primer y Segundo parrafo de este valor principal. Primero, los ejecutivos principales deben plantear la direccion, su vision, … The key to success lies in the connection between the first and second paragraphs of this core value. First, senior executives must set the organization’s direction, its vision, described in terms of specific objectives with measurable goals and targets. The ethics and values, strategies, and guidelines for acceptable conduct should be defined at that same time.
Then, the process of implementing these key components of organizational success begins—and must continue without interruption—if the desired outcomes are to be achieved in the intended way. This is where planning, communications, personal behaviors, education and training, coaching, and recognition and reward practices move the organization from concepts to reality. In fact, without the visible presence of senior leaders throughout the implementation, employees and other stakeholders probably will view the vision statements, strategic plans, codes of ethic, and codes of conduct as just “so much fluff. The toughest challenge for executives actually may involve being able to practice what they preach in a way that bears the constant perusal of internal and external watchdogs. Fundamentals of Organizational Ethics How a company goes about doing business, what kind of relationships it builds, and what kind of conduct is expected from employees is called ethics. An organization’s ethics are a critical determinant in how successful it will be, as well as the reputation it will have with customers, suppliers, competitors, financial institutions, governmental agencies, and employees.
All individuals have personal values and beliefs that were developed in their early lives through interactions with their families, schools, religions, etc. These ethics generally deal with honesty and integrity, elements that relate to the good of all. Just as these values become the personal guidelines for life, organizations also need to develop a code of rights and wrongs. Obviously, there are laws that govern portions of personal and professional behavior, but these usually are considered the minimum acceptable performance, and ethics policies cover those situations not addressed in the regulations.
Organizational ethics are set by senior management and reflect the philosophy of the organization. In general, it is very easy for people to agree in principle with the organization’s code of ethics. In actuality, however, living up to any ethics code can be difficult. This is partially true because it is impossible to develop a list of rules that covers every possible situation. When situations that are not specifically listed in the code arise, personal values play a more substantial role in the decision-making process.
Difficulties can occur when other stakeholders have different personal values and judge the decision to have been incorrect or inappropriate. Even those situations that are covered in the ethics code can initiate debate and dissention when degree is brought into the picture. For example, consider a policy regarding theft of company property. If an employee stole a company car or computer, there would be widespread agreement that the organization’s ethics policy had been violated. But what about the employee who walks off with a pen—either intentionally or unintentionally from the supply room.
In the strictest sense, this is also an ethics violation, but few managers would discipline this employee—unless the number of pens and/or the frequency of removal were high. There are also many business and outside pressures that can complicate the ethics issue. For-profit organizations are in business to make money. Not-forprofit organizations, including governmental agencies and educational institutions, are under pressure to provide more services at lower costs. Personal goals, organizational pressures to succeed, competitive stresses, social issues, and world affairs sometimes can ead employees to make poor decisions. Decisions often can be difficult when “what is right” is weighed against “what will make or save money. ” Randy Cohen, author of The New York Times Magazine’s column, “The Ethicist,” says that he receives a cornucopia of questions from people grappling with moral dilemmas. “I don’t really tell people what to do,” explains Cohen. “They often know what the right answer is. My job is to officially construct why it follows that they behave a certain way. ” In his recently published book, The Good, the Bad & the Difference: How to
Tell Right From Wrong in Everyday Situations (Doubleday), Cohen addresses workplace issues dealing with privacy, religion, hiring, firing, and CEO compensation. 4 To be successful, codes of ethics need to be specific, but not overwhelmingly detailed. They need to be understandable and aimed at helping individuals at all points of the organization make good decisions. Understanding isn’t built through longer documents but through discussion, education and training, leaders’ demonstration, and employees’ guided practice.
There are six primary areas addressed in most organizations’ codes of ethics: • Conflict of interest: This includes situations where an employee gains personal benefit at the expense of the organization or where the employee’s involvement in any activity, investment, or association interferes with his/her independent exercise of judgment while carrying out job responsibilities. Conflict of interest can be real or perceived. It is just as critical to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, as it is to avoid an actual conflict of interest. Records, funds, and assets: It is essential that every organization keep records and safeguard its funds and other assets. There are many legal ramifications if this is not done honestly and properly, and the recent congressional passing of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act raises these requirements to an even higher level. Records need to be accurate, available, auditable, and maintained according to generally accepted accounting principles, as well as other regulations/requirements, such as Security and Exchange Commission rules, state and local rules, and organizational bylaws. Information: All for-profit organizations possess knowledge that they consider confidential and that provides them with competitive advantage in the marketplace. This information can damage performance significantly and may result in litigation and/or legal action against employees who violate policies—even when those violations are unintentional or involve immediate family members. It’s interesting to note that this area works much differently in the public sector, where freedom of information and “sunshine” laws require open access.
In these organizations, the code of ethics usually admonishes employees from withholding information from the public. • Outside relationships: In the course of working, many employees come into contact with people from outside the organization, such as customers, suppliers, contractors, the government, and even competitors. The type and amount of information shared can be very sensitive and subject to both laws and ethics. Everything from bad-mouthing competitive organizations to perceived price fixing at association meetings falls into this category. Employment practices: These address everything from workplace harassment and discrimination, diversity, illegal substances, and proper exercise of authority to employee volunteer activities. • Other practices: This broad category includes policies related to the environment, employee health and safety, political activities, etc. In addition to addressing the appropriate areas, the ethics policy needs to be enforced. Often enforcement means someone blows the whistle on a situation that is outside the code. The environment inside the organization must ake it comfortable for employees to raise their concerns and reveal actions that violate the policy. Processes must exist for reporting questionable activities, protecting the whistleblower, investigating each and every reported incident, taking action, and appropriately communicating the situation and action taken so that the violation won’t be repeated and organizational learning increases. Some Words on Ethics Training In a recent interview, Steve Priest, founder of the Ethical Leadership Group, shared the results of a survey of xecutives who attended The Conference Board’s annual Business Ethics Conference, as well as his insights on ethics training. 5 Priest reported that 60% of the executives thought that ethics training in their own organizations would reduce the likelihood of a scandal. “The fact that they think ethics training would work at their own companies suggests that ethics programs can help shape cultures. Ethics programs, of which training is only a piece, can help move cultures in a more law-abiding, more ethical, more responsible direction, and I think that’s why, in heir own institutions, they think they can make a difference—because they believe they’ve got a core culture that will allow integrity, and then they can move, reinforce, push, in that direction. ” He also described the most surprising results. “The most startling thing to me was the disconnect in the answers to three different questions: how often respondents’ companies engage the board of directors in ethics and compliance training, how often they engage senior managers in ethics and compliance training, and how often they engage other employees in ethics and compliance training.
The responses are exactly the opposite of what they should be, if you really want to make a difference in the organization. The short-term gains associated with unethical and excuse-ridden decisions don’t create sustainable performance; they undermine morale and create a spiral of disintegrating behaviors that ultimately lead to organizational destruction. The people who present the least risk—legal, ethical, and reputational—to the company, the employees, receive the most training. The people who present the most risk to the company—senior management and the oard—receive the least training. As a signal of where they believe responsibility lies, that’s very telling. ” Priest commented that the best ethics training is always linked to the company’s mission and how it makes money. “If it’s totally divorced from that, then of course employees know it’s just an add-on, something companies are doing for external reasons or legal reasons or whatever. It isn’t seen as authentic. So it has to reinforce the company’s profit-making mission. ” He also feels that it’s essential to include case studies or cenarios—ways for employees to interact with real-life situations that have meaning for them. Numerous experts in ethics agree with Priest’s comments, and they caution that role-playing and analysis exercises should involve complex situations, including ones that actually have occurred in the organization. These latter examples may involve situations where the right decision was made, as well as ones where the decision was wrong. Even more enlightening may be the situation where the organization supported an inappropriate decision and had to face the consequences.
Throughout the whole process, there are three key learning points: the actual contents of the organization’s values, the processes for applying those values and reporting noncompliance, and the nature of decisions that align with the standards. It is this latter area that is the most difficult to develop and that requires practice and coaching. Showing That You Mean What You Say Of course, the ultimate challenge occurs when leaders are cornered, when they have to take a stand on the side of ethics and they feel certain that it actually will or will be perceived to impact expected results negatively.
It’s in those times that the tendency to ignore organizational philosophies and to make excuses for misbehaving reaches its highest frequency. Take for instance Marquette Catholic High School’s (Alton, IL) recent experience. The school football team had a 10-0 record for the season and was ranked first in its division, as well as being favored to win the state football championship. Imagine the pressure the high school’s leaders faced when 16 starters were arrested two weeks before the playoffs for being at a party where alcohol was served.
Not only was this the best team the school had fielded in its 75-year history, but the ruling of a county judge in a similar situation in 1998 also weighed heavily on their minds. In that case, school officials in neighboring Bethalto suspended nine players for drinking at a party, parents had sued for their reinstatement, and the judge ruled that the suspensions violated the players’ legal right to pursue football scholarships. Marquette had required the players and their parents to sign its code of conduct, which mandated suspensions rom all extracurricular activities for alcohol violations. “There was discussion—but no debate—among the school’s principal, assistant principal, athletic director, and football coach (whose son was among the players at the party): Marquette would stand for something taller than trophies. Parents backed the decision. And although there was concern about sending second- and thirdstringers to confront a team as physically tough as Anna-Jonesboro (Anna, IL), the 35 players still eligible didn’t want to forfeit,” according to the Chicago Tribune.
The Marquette Explorers didn’t score a touchdown, getting crushed 63-0, but they won a standing ovation from the crowd. They didn’t get the trophy, but they got something much more important. And that’s the lesson American leaders need to learn. The short-term gains associated with unethical and excuse-ridden decisions don’t create sustainable performance; they undermine morale and create a spiral of disintegrating behaviors that ultimately lead to organizational destruction. Clearly, the high road may seem thorny at first, but it ultimately creates a culture that succeeds through innovation and effort. 6