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Tip of the Week: Are Your People Ethically Challenged? mindscanner/iStock/Thinkstock

Tip of the Week: Are Your People Ethically Challenged?

Setting a good example and communicating clearly will guide employees to act ethically.

If you’re a manager and your people have started developing the bad habit of cutting corners on jobs, you better gain control of the situation immediately. You don't want the cost of rework, and you don’t want your shop known as a place that does shoddy work.

But you might want to start with a self-assessment. You may be getting exactly what you asked for. Here are some items to think about:

How you measure employee performance. It isn’t always about getting the job done on time and under budget. Circumstances can make it impossible to meet either goal without changing another variable. Safety and quality are likely targets, and they are two areas where you don’t want people cutting corners.

How much you rely on reports. Get a good amount of your information firsthand; for example, pick up the phone and call customers for their views on how a job went. If you rely solely on the reports that employees turn in, you’re unlikely to a full picture of what’s really happening. People are going to tell you what they think you want to hear, and it’s going to tend toward self-promotion. A report-constrained manager may as well put up a big sign that says “Shortcut Here.”

The way you talk about customers. Any negativity toward customers will filter down. You want your employees to value the customer and strive to do the best possible work for that customer. Badmouthing a customer works against this. The message you’re sending is, “This customer is not worth your best effort.”

You need to communicate the core values that are important to your business. Be careful not to undermine the ethical standards of your employees. Look for the message behind the message when you communicate to employees, and make sure it’s one that reinforces good ethical conduct.

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