Employee engagement is a non-negotiable factor in devising a workplace code of conduct.
Over the past few years organisations have come to rely more and more on a code of conduct as a means of galvanising support for desired behaviors. However, unless the code has been developed with significant input from the people that it is meant to cover, its effect is severely impaired.
The contrary experience has been that, when employees, unions, managers and employers come together to develop a code according to their own needs and to their own liking, they are more likely to make a genuine personal commitment to it.
The set of six
Research has discovered six factors common to the development, establishment and maintenance of successful workplace codes.
- Ownership.Employees are more likely to accept and internalise a code for which they feel a sense of ownership. Generally, employees will support and accept a code that they have helped to set up in the first place. Further, it is beneficial if colloquialisms and jargon that are used by the employees are allowed to travel into the code. Informal yet commonly used language is a powerful reinforcer.
- Relevance.Employees will accept and internalise the content of a code of conduct to the extent that they see that it helps them to complete the tasks they have to do and accomplish the goals to which they are committed. It is a good idea, therefore, that a group make clear how upholding an item in a code will help goal accomplishment.Relevance also refers to the degree to which the code responds to the fundamental rights and obligations of employees, employers and citizens in general, as laid out in both common and statutory law in Australia.It is strongly recommended that all members of an organisation or section of an organisation be given a basic education in this so that they can transfer their understanding into a set of principles (contained in the code) that make sense to them for day-to-day working, negotiating and decision making.
- Legitimacy.Employees need to feel that there is a high degree of internal commitment to the code, and also see that others, including managers, are prepared to be guided by it. Internal commitment can be generated through such activities as the values and ethics clarification that are an important aspect of employees participation in the code’s development.Regarding the second element, that the code be seen to bind management and other staff equally, it is recommended that the management team and union organisers sign-off on their commitment to uphold the code, even by including it in the EBA.The organisation itself ought also to insist on managers behaving in accordance with the code. Otherwise, employees will quickly conclude that the code is of no more value than the paper it’s written on.
- Capability.Some employees and managers will need to see appropriate models for upholding the code, as well as a chance to practise the desired behaviors especially if these are new in relative safety.
- Reinforcement.There must be opportunities to reinforce positively the behaviors that are congruent with the code of conduct, and to take action against any violation of the code.Reinforcement needs to be as constructive and consistent as possible. To do this, employees and management need some fundamental skills and a practical process for giving and receiving feedback.
- Flexibility.Because a code of conduct exists primarily to help individual employees and teams to achieve effectiveness and satisfaction, it needs to be flexible so that at any time more appropriate items can be substituted.In consideration of this, it may therefore be wise for the several interested parties to agree at the time of putting the code together upon a review period and process.
How not to
How not to be a classicist
There are many famous management writers who have received far too little attention through the ages. There was Homer, who was an expert on the hostile takeover, especially when it involved Trojans. Dante wrote an excellent management text on the three divisions of the modern organisation: hell, purgatory and heaven (although he spoilt it by calling it The Divine Comedy, an unnecessarily flippant title).
But perhaps the greatest management writer of all was a little-known genius from Stratford, William Shakespeare. At last he is receiving his dues, as can be seen from the following advertisement for a new leadership-development program in the United States that “relies upon ancient wisdom”:
“Executive training on leadership and change as well as on ethics, diversity, and communications based upon Shakespeare’s eternal truths.”
The Bard boom hits the boardroom compliments of Movers & Shakespeares, the creation of Kenneth and Carol Adelman. He was an arms-control director for the Reagan administration; she an official for the US Agency for International Development.
William Shakespeare, chosen by BBC listeners as “Man of the Millennium”, has been at the top of the charts for 400 years. That constitutes a long run, or, as a Hollywood writer might put it, “Shakespeare has legs”.
Granted his overall popularity, what does Shakespeare bring to the executive suite? First is his keen awareness of what makes people tick. The Bard offers astute depictions of human nature, and business hinges upon human motives as much as any element. Knowing human nature is a catalyst for success; not knowing a prescription for failure.
Second, Shakespeare tells stories. Executives, like everyone, often learn best through narratives, and the Bard sure draws people in with some ripping yarns.
Drawing on their extensive experience in government and private business, Carol and Ken work closely with clients such as Northrop Grumman Corporation to customise their program around the issues facing the company.
The Adelmans select a Shakespeare play to fit the program’s purpose. For leadership, they draw on Henry V; for change, Taming of the Shrew; for corporate succession, ethics, and implementation, Julius Caesar; for risk assessment and management, Merchant of Venice; and for crisis management, Hamlet.
No especially profound knowledge of Shakespeare is required, nor must you pull on tights. However, at the conclusion of the program, the Adelmans direct a short performance with volunteers from among the participants. They are costumed (but still no tights, thank goodness) and they read from scripts of mini-scenes.
The program is serious, emphasising that “tis the mind which makes the body rich”. But the final message of the day is one that the Bard well appreciated: “No profit grows where no pleasure is taken”.
How not to write proper
Continuing in a literary vein, more about the heights of purple prose in the post-modern society.
- Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
- Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
- Who needs rhetorical questions?
- Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
- Don’t never use a double negation.
- capitalise every sentence and remember always end it with point
- Do not put statements in the negative form.
- Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
- Proof-read carefully to see if you’ve words out.
- If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
- A writer must not shift your point of view.
- And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction. (Remember, too, that a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.)
- Don’t (and I mean don’t!!!) overuse exclamation marks!!!!!!!