There are a number of skills that savvy business owners know to value in their workers. Integrity and ethics are both essential ingredients to a harmonious workforce, but many managers still fail to give them the priority they deserve. Here are seven steps that any business leader can take to foster a more ethical business environment.
Lead the Way
The concept of leading by example is a very powerful one in the world of business. It doesn’t matter what it is that you are asking your workers to do. No matter how big or small it is, if you show that you are willing to chip in and undertake it yourself, others will be more willing to follow. If you want to institute a more ethical workplace, you need to set the standards for others to follow. It’s no good trying to improve ethics amongst your staff if you aren’t able to observe them yourself.
Continue to emphasize the importance of being ethical throughout everything that you do, and the rest of your workforce will soon take note. This applies at all levels of your business. Whether you are in the presence of upper management or of frontline workers, you should always keep ethics at the forefront of your mind.
Don’t Throw it Away For Quick Profits
A great many businesses start out with the very best of intentions but ultimately succumb to the temptation of profits. Anyone who has ever been through the struggles of keeping a small business afloat and growing it during those intrepid first years will be able to testify as to how tempting it can be to take shortcuts in favor of shoring up your financial position. However, once you start taking and tolerating shortcuts, you open the door to people routinely ignoring rules and procedures. In that kind of environment, it’s much harder to encourage ethical behavior.
Make sure that everyone in your business understands that there are important considerations beyond money alone. Again, leading by example is important here, but what is also important is that you lead with actions, not just words. If the other members of management in your business notice that you are often taking shortcuts and putting profits over all other considerations, they are unlikely to pass on your more ethical message to their teams.
Internalize Ethics as Part of Your Brand
Show everyone how committed and dedicated you are to building a more ethical business, which you are encouraging them to be a part of by injecting an ethical streak into everything you do. Make ethical behavior another key principle of your brand and ensure that this is something that is being properly reflected in all your marketing and promotional materials. The more you can internalize these principles, the deeper they will ingrain themselves intoyour corporate culture.
Hire the Right People
As with everything else in business, if you want your team to deliver on the objectives and vision that you have set for yourself, you will need to hire the right people to convey your message and implement your ideas. Think of ways that you can make ethical considerations a bigger part of your hiring and screening processes. Consider, for example, giving priority to those who have experience working with charitable organizations, or who have university qualifications that are directly related to ethics.
If you are responsible for conducting interviews with potential new hires then take the opportunity to size them up yourself to see what kind of feeling you get from them. Remember, for your drive towards a more ethical business to be successful, you will need to ingrain the ethos and behavior into everything that your business does. That means that you need to be checking all your potential hires to ensure that they will fit intothat part of your corporate culture.
Study Group Dynamics
The dynamics between the individuals that work for you when they are together in a group will have a huge impact on the most efficient way of managing them. Sometimes, two people are both a credit to the workforce individually but are completely incapable of working with one another in a group setting. You should study your workforce carefully until you feel that you have a solid grasp oftheir dynamics as a group.
One of the things that should be becoming clear by now is just how important it is that the managers and upper-levelstaff in your business are pushing those working under them to behave and act more ethically at every opportunity. Group dynamics are very important here; carefully observe your team and their output in order to ascertain who among them is going to be the most receptive to what you are trying to do.
Stop Unethical Behavior in its Tracks
Adopting a zero-tolerance approach towards unethical behavior will soon have your workforce falling into line. It is also important to understand that allowing even very minor lapses in ethics will open the door to much less ethical behavior down the line. If you turn a blind eye to small lapses, it is inevitable that there will be more serious ones in the future.
This is another reason why it is so important that you carefully consider who you are hiring, and you are entrusting in positions of authority.
Go Above and Beyond
Creating a more ethical business environment needs to involve more than just words. Too many businesses rely on hiring groups to come and talk to their workers and run workshops about ethics, diversity, and equality, but these exercises will not lead to any long-term change unless you take steps to make that happen. Think beyond the most obvious things you can do and think about the best that you can do.
For example, don’t just tell your workers that you are going to pay extra attention to diversity. Instead, make your buildings wheelchair accessible. You can pair with a business such as National Ramp to do the work, click here to learn more. The more you work towards equality and diversity, the greater the skillset your business will attract.
A more ethical business is generally a happier and more productive business. You should be doing everything that you can to encourage ethical behavior. Make sure you lead by example and put ethics at the heart of your business. That way, you will be able to foster a much better atmosphere.