As you know, I begin with the vision, mission, values and strategic positioning when I begin working with any organization. If the management team is not aligned with all four, it's impossible to develop a cohesive integrated marketing communications plan and deliver a consistent message to your employees and your prospects.
The most important value to me is integrity - doing what you say you will do when you say you will do it. If you're unable to do what you say you will do when you say you will do it, why should anyone trust you about anything else - your products, your services, your guarantee, your word?
As the leader of a business organization, you set the tone for the organization. You are the role model for everyone in the organization who need to be aligned in order for your organization to achieve its goals. Your organization will not achieve its goals unless everyone is aligned with the same vision, mission, and values and is communicating the same strategic positioning. You need your employees to be just as accountable as you when it comes to doing what you say you will do, when you say you will do it.
If your do not do what they say they will do when thy say they will do it, they detract from the organization’s integrated approach with regards to vision, mission, values, and strategic positioning. Consistency builds trust. Inconsistency results in confusion and distrust. If some of your employees are doing their jobs with integrity and others are not, your customers and prospects will be confused - as will your brand.
There are four important steps for your employees to do their jobs with integrity.
- Teach employees what you mean by integrity
If your employees don’t understand the concept of integrity, they cannot reap its benefits. So your first job is to make them aware of integrity. This can be done in a number of different ways. It is easiest to teach integrity through stories, animated movies, films, slide shows and concrete examples. You should take the time to display these resources at the workplace
Here is a great story to show employees the importance of living with integrity and transparency. Integrity is not just about doing what's right even when others are not. Living with integrity serves as a role model for colleagues, suppliers, channel partners, and your competition. Here is another story which depicts strong, creative leadership. Stories are a great way to deliver a compelling, and memorable message
- Compensate employees fairly
Integrity starts at the top and scare the daylights out of a lot of c-level executives with whom I have worked. If you are not paying employees fairly, your employees will not be with you for long and certainly will not be engaged. They will be angry that you are taking advantage of them and their situation and constantly looking for a new job rather that focused on achieving the objectives of the organization. It's critical to you pay similar compensation to employees who are in similar roles. It’s obvious if an organization’s compensation discriminate with regards to age, sex, or race, the organization, and its management is not living with integrity. Integrity is not just about telling the trust and being transparent, it is also doing what is right and treating everyone fairly so they can grow and flourish together. Even if you don’t pay fairly, still.
Paying people fairly does not mean you cannot make distinctions between older workers with more seniority or experience or those with management potential. If an employee deserves more than others, especially for reasons that may not be entirely obvious to all members of the team, ensure they are fairly compensated. Everything can not be translated into a tangible ROI. Some people are bringing skills and value to the organization that cannot be quantified.
- Know your competitors
Every organization has competitors. Ensure your employees know who your competitors are and what makes you "different and better." This is part of the message they should be delivering when asked who they work for and what do you do, as evidenced by a custodian at NASA.
Employees are more likely to be engaged, empowered, and live with integrity when they know what makes the company they work for "different and better" than their competition. Employees will end up holding each other accountable for doing what they say they will do. I wonder what would have happened has Enron management and employees embraced integrity?
- Engage with employees
Employees model the words and actions of their leaders. That's why it's important for management to share their thoughts and be open to having difficult discussions. Employees want to know how they are doing. While it's better to focus on leveraging the positives, it's necessary to be honest with employees about where they are not lving up to expectations, pulling their weight, or doing what they say they will do. As such, regular one-on-one is vital to building their integrity.
This goes both ways. In a transparent organization, employees should be encouraged to talk to management about any issues they see out of alignment of living with integrity, without reprisal. This empowers employees and leads to greater innovation and progress.