Positive culture drives value. It inspires people and creates an environment in which employees, especially millennials, want to work. Yet that kind of culture isn’t something we can take for granted.
Organizational culture doesn’t simply trickle down from the C-suite. Last year, we witnessed many corporate examples of how underlying cultural issues can create major problems, including judgments for deceitful practices, public-relations nightmares, and a litany of sexual harassment complaints. Ethical issues are all around us, and as Mark Cuban has recently demonstrated in regard to the allegedly “corrosive” culture of the Dallas Mavericks, an organization’s leaders aren’t always aware of those issues until the company’s reputation is tarnished or ruined altogether.
So, what’s the fix for a broken culture? How can company leaders produce change? How can they establish cultural values and monitor employee adherence?
“You can’t just roll ethical values out and make them a banner in the lobby,” says eMentorConnect Principal Nancy Wolk. “That just doesn’t work. Nearly every place of business you walk into prominently displays a values banner, yet 90 percent of employees can’t tell you what those values are. You have to make values real, and you have to make them come to life.
“That’s where we come into play. A well-implemented mentoring program makes ethics stick by training people to apply those cultural values to their everyday lives, which helps avoid or resolve issues like what’s happening with some of these infamous organizations.”
Turning Vision into Action
“At eMentorConnect, we have a client that’s a large consumer goods company,” says Wolk. “They have used our KNOX® solution with their sales leadership team to help drive the CEO’s vision. It’s been highly successful, and that’s what mentoring can do across the board — it encourages employees to adopt the company’s vision and values.”
While employers often offer workshop training on appropriate behavior and ethical compliance, these one-off workshops aren’t enough. One-time workshops can’t turn vision into action because employees either don’t retain the information or they don’t know how to apply it. Real change requires more.
“The thing about ethics is that it has to be presented in an engaging way, and if it isn’t then employees won’t pay attention, especially since so much ethics training is done virtually,” explains Wolk. “In fact, if you poll people after they’ve participated in those one-time workshops, you’ll often find they did just enough to get by for the requirements. They only paid half attention.
“People pay attention to what they think will impact them. If you roll out ethical training in a way that enables personnel to discuss the issues and engage with them, then people will have greater recall. They’ll also understand how the training applies to them in real-life situations and their day-to-day jobs, which makes it easier to implement.”
Understanding the real-life implications of ethical issues is important, explains Wolk, because many of the issues that may arise can’t be handled with one conversation. Sexual harassment cases, for example, require escalation. From a legal standpoint, they have to be reported.
“KNOX’s circle mentoring functionality gives people the opportunity to talk to their peers and discuss in a group setting how potential situations may arise, while the program’s one-to-one pairings enable people to role-play hypothetical conversations and work through what would occur and how. In both situations, employees can talk the issues over before they happen, which gives them the tools they need to know how to react. In the long run, this boosts individual confidence and decreases the likelihood of inappropriate behavior.”
As #MeToo campaigns garner increasing attention and company scandals continue to hit headlines, leaders need measurable metrics they can use to determine how well training is working — preferably before major problems arise.
“If the program objective is to increase company knowledge around ethical behavior then KNOX lets us set up a baseline survey before we begin,” says Wolk. “We ask the employees, ‘Where do you feel your knowledge is on corporate compliance policy, ethical responsibility, etc.?’ Then, we survey them again halfway through the program and again at the end. This lets management and admins measure the increase in knowledge.
“If a company is already experiencing problems, then they could measure the number of ethical complaints or legal actions before and after mentoring took place. This would give them a solid, quantifiable ROI for the mentoring program, and a clear indicator of company-wide change.”
Corporate culture won’t shift with just a company slogan and a workshop. Watch our webinar to learn how mentoring can reinforce the best parts of your company when it’s paired with the right kind of training.