A few months ago I attended a City HR Association* event, on ethics and integrity in the workplace. There were some fascinating insights and discussions on how we, as people professionals, can help to run our organisations in an ethical way – and this doesn’t just apply to the City. Many organisations have been brought down, either through one employee’s unethical activity (like Nick Leeson at Barings Bank), or by a culture of rewarding performance at any cost (e.g. The News of the World).
Where do we start?
The question I repeatedly heard around the tables and over lunch was: We know we have to get to grips with this, but where do we start? And how do we measure ‘ethics’ or ‘integrity’ in an organisation?
Measuring how we do what we do, as well as what we do
One of the things I learned from the forum was that, where previously performance was all about the ‘what’ of the role (measures like revenue, profitability, sales etc), performance now has to include the ‘how’, i.e. how everyone defines and achieves their goals (in a way that is ethical, supports others, takes into account the long term view…). This ‘how’ question needs to be equally weighted with the ‘what’, in goal setting, feedback, development and succession discussions.
Behaviours can be measured
Of course, many organisations are already doing this, and leading the way in building values-driven performance. 360 Degree Feedback is being used as a key tool for defining what ethical behaviour looks like, and for measuring the visibility and extent of that ethical behaviour in the business.
If you are interested in finding out more, the City Values Forum documents, Leading with Integrity and Performance with Integrity** , provide a framework for identifying the organisation’s values and the behaviours that underpin those values. These can then form the basis of a robust 360 Degree Feedback tool that is specific to that organisation.
And it then becomes easy to regularly take the ethical ‘temperature’ – by obtaining feedback, observations and ratings of those behaviours, and their frequency – at the individual, group and organisation level.