This is the second video in a series on building a corporate culture of employee accountability under the whole umbrella of corporate culture and how to improve your corporate culture.
I will discuss the importance of managers clarifying expectations around professional practices like work habits, interpersonal effectiveness and ethical behavior to improve corporate culture person by person.
If you missed Part 1, you can watch it here: Improving Corporate Culture – Employee Accountability, Part 1
You can read the summary of the video below:
In the Improving Corporate Culture Part 1 video, we talked about the importance of Employee Accountability – making sure your employees know what your expectations are if you want your employees to be accountable, you can let them know it, and what the parameters are for that accountability. We also talked about goals and duties as being two of the three parameters of accountability that you want to make sure your employees know the what are the expectations…
How You Do the Job
That brings us to the third one which is professional practices and what that describes is how you do the job. I think it’s really important that you clarify what you expect from your employees.
Whenever I talk about this I think of a movie example – Saving Private Ryan starring Tom Hanks. If you saw the movie you know that it was extremely powerful. A war movie where Hanks is leading a group of soldiers out to look for Private Ryan. They’re walking down a pathway when they come across the bodies who have been ambushed by a German machine-gun. They jump in the bushes so they don’t get shot. Hanks starts making assignments on what to do so they can take this machine-gun nests.
He says “You take the left and you take the right” and the team sort of looks at him. “Well, wait a minute, wait a minute captain, we don’t want to take this machine-gun nest why should we have to do it when we’re looking for Private Ryan and we ought to just go around the hill and pacify!”
Hanks made a really great statement of what they were all about. He said, “Look, I thought our objective was to win the war!” And with that, he took his rifle, turned around and walked up the hill and the soldiers all looked at each other and went okay and they followed him up the hill.
It really speaks to this idea of Employee Accountability – helping employees to understand the bigger picture. To understand why they should behave the way they should behave while doing their job.
What it’s all about – that falls into the category of professional practices.
Now, on-the-job professional practices can include things like work habits. How what do you expect from your people in terms of how they work. Are they expected to meet deadlines exactly or a little early? Or is the deadline kind of loose?
Are they expected to keep their work area clean and neat? Or are they expected to be a kind of on a team that works together and is creative and volunteers to do extra work whenever it’s needed to be done?
Whatever that is, are you clear with them on what you expect so that you set up a culture where they know what the game is along with work habits? Have you been clear with everybody as to what you expect in terms of how they get along and work together?
When we were in grade school and we used to be graded on works and plays well with others. Well, in some organizations that are critical and in others, that’s not so important.
If you work as a realtor in a real estate office you’re expected to somewhat get along. But if you’d have to work as a team you’re sort of an individual player and you are judged on your productivity and getting along well with others is not such a big deal.
But if you’re on a team that’s putting together a project and that project has to function with a lot of collaboration, then interpersonal effectiveness is really important.
I bring this up about interpersonal effectiveness because sometimes you’ll have people who are really top performers but maybe don’t have good interpersonal skills.
I work with a lot of high tech organizations. I don’t mean to say disparaging things about engineers, but sometimes the more technically gifted are less able to relate to other people and to work and play well with others. If they got to get along with others and they got to deal with customers, then I think it’s important that you make that expectation clear.
My stepfather worked for Procter and Gamble for 40 years. He loved that company and one of the things he learned about them was that they had very strict high standards of ethics and guidelines for how they were to deal with their customers.
I think it’s important that those standards be reviewed and focused on occasionally just to remind people and there’s a value in that.
David Maxwell and his partner did an interesting study a few years ago where they took groups of fifteen-year-old kids and put them in a room. They had them play a bean bag game where they tossed bags into a board with holes and they got a certain number of points based on how many bags they got through holes and they were to report their score to the testers who were outside the room. However many points they got, they got paid I think a dollar a point or something like that. The kids were led to believe that there was nobody monitoring them and that whatever score they reported was just kind of from their own honesty.
Of course, they were being videotaped secretly, so that the examiners could figure out who was being honest and who wasn’t. Interestingly enough, I think 80% of the subjects lied and only 20% told the truth.
So they repeated the test and this time before they conducted the experiment, they explained to each of them that it was really important for them to be honest and they had them sign an agreement that they would be honest. They conducted the experiment and videotaped it and the kids reported their scores and got paid. The results were 20% of the subjects lied and 80% told the truth – quite a reversal and all it took was reminding them that they needed to be honest.
I think it speaks volumes to how important it is to remind people on a regular basis without them getting to the point where they’re tired of hearing it.
- how we play the game
- what our standards are
- what our ethics are
- what our goals are
- that the customer is important
- that we deal with each other in an honest and straightforward way
It’s kind of repeated in different ways – whether it’s you giving your group a pep talk or having that poster on the wall or referring to your values when you’re trying to make a decision on how to proceed in a matter with a customer.
What Are Your Expectations?
Letting them know if there’s a dispute, what are your standards – I think it’s really helpful to remind people of what your expectations are and the organization’s expectations are around this issue of honesty and ethics.
…So now we’ve looked at three different professional practices that contribute to this corporate culture of accountability: work habits, interpersonal effectiveness, and ethical behavior.
Next week we’ll look at some more professional practices and what you can do to raise the odds that people are more accountable within those as well.