Employees, not auditors, are the first people to see risk and unethical behaviour. It pays, therefore, to work with the social life of your organisation to recognise how employees are socialised into discussing risk issues and then to provide the necessary skills to ensure they are encouraged to raise issues before a crisis can emerge. It begins with:
1. Tone at the top: Winning the top team’s support and participation in moving to a “Listening” culture orientation. Leaders are the loudest signal about whether it is safe to raise concerns
2. Appeal to personal Identity: Most employees have a strong self-identity that they are ethical and rarely self-identify as part of the problem. Leveraging of employees’ own identity is a powerful lever for their co-operation in identifying unethical behaviour in the workplace.
3. Build life Skills – values conflicts are inevitable and forewarning employees to canvass other stakeholder perspectives as well as contextual pressures when making decisions will help to offset reactive decisions
4. Train managers and employees in “speak up” skills to build a shared organisational language around risk. Ideally training will be organised in cross-sectional groups to enable employees to “hear” each other’s concerns; this amplifies the social life of the organisation
5. Take a systems approach – Initiatives to build cultures of integrity must involve a “whole of organisation” so employees know there is only one set of rules and everyone is being asked to change
6. Peer to peer accountability: Leaders need to hold each other to the organisation’s stated values. Insist managers at every level develop action plans that focus on day to day practices.
7. Embed in organisation: What gets measured and rewarded, gets done. Existing reward and recognition systems must be aligned to support any speak-up cultural change program.
Ideally, speak up initiatives will be a cornerstone to the organisation living its values. It can, therefore, be communicated in favourable terms.
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