When I began working with my current employer I could tell that there was something in the air that just wasn’t right. It appeared obvious to me that at least initially some of the employees were putting a mask every day and had yet to truly reveal their identity. I had inherited a team that had been without a manager for nearly half a year. When I spoke to the manager that had been looking after them for the past month or so she told me that she thought most of the team was underperforming and should be placed on a performance improvement plan at the least.
I had always tried to lead by example. If I told my employees to be at work on time, I would have to be on time. If I demanded the best from my employees, they should expect the same from me. I believe if you’re going to “talk the talk” you need to “walk the walk”. I felt that it was all about setting the right tone creating right type of culture or climate on the team. As the team began to recognize my leadership style, some members began to move in then direction that I was trying to take the team. Some members of the team resisted the change that I was trying to institute.
I found that I had a few members of my team that were more content to do things the way they were used to doing them before I became their manager. These employees had become accustomed to taking breaks when they wanted, coming into to work late, not meeting organizational standards and basically, manipulating the rules at work. These employees were not used to being held accountable for their actions and therefore participate in unethical work behaviors.
The more I held them accountable to the standard the harder they would resist. I would counsel them and coach them on the importance of meeting the organizational standards as well as mine. It got to the point where this form of unethical behavior became a barrier between me, the other employees and the direction that I wanted to take the team. Over time, their behaviors that were inconsistent with organizational standards resulted in the eventual termination of those employees.
Since the termination of the employees that exhibited unethical behavior, we have gone from a team that collectively struggled to meet organizational goals, to a team that is now leading the way. To me, this is proof that a leader can set the standard for ethical behavior in the organization. It is the leader that is responsible for holding employees accountable when they engage in less than ethical behaviors on the team. It is up to the leader to control the climate in their organization. The leader needs to be the thermostat that controls the climate and not simply the thermometer that reports it.
Pennsylvania State University. (2016). Lesson 13: Ethical climate. Retrieved from: https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1775390