How to improve your work life with ethics
The situation: Too many employees spend 9-to-5 in an unpleasant workplace. These environments worsen job satisfaction and boost the urge to depart. Yet management may be oblivious to the problem and beyond influencing.
The solution: The most effective ethics programs come from the top, but employees can always improve the ethical environment. And ethical behavior can increase your job satisfaction and your likelihood of remaining where you are. Ethical workplaces are more pleasant and have less turnover, so friends stay together longer. Conflict and feuds diminish. When you act decently to others, they tend to respond in kind and you enjoy your work more.
- Praise others’ achievements and acts of decency. You’ll help build a culture of appreciation and reciprocity and encourage people to act better.
- Share your knowledge. Give your time and expertise freely to coworkers. When you help others, everyone benefits and others return the favor. Studies show that sharing is one hallmark of an effective person.
- Don’t condemn others’ actions too quickly. Give them the benefit of the doubt, just as you yourself would want. Get all the facts and put yourself in their position. If you understand why they acted as they did, you may feel more sympathy for them – and avoid pointless harm to a relationship.
- Consider attending a Josephson Institute training seminar to equip you to start or enhance a business ethics program in your organization. Better yet, ask the organization to send several employees.
- Evaluate yourself. People should spend as much time judging themselves as they do watching and judging others. Periodically reflect on your own behaviors to ensure you are staying on ethical track. If you model good behavior, you’ll encourage it in others.
- Forgive others. No one is perfect. Help people see and deal with their mistakes, and support them in their efforts to improve. Handle their errors as you would want them to handle yours.
- Introduce a common language of values to increase mutual understanding. One well-known language is the Six Pillars of Character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship.
- Avoid the “silent saboteurs”: acts that everyone complains about such as:
- Goal-lowering: Aiming for just adequacy because you fear the consequences of failure more than you value the rewards of success.
- Detail-skipping: Paying insufficient attention to small things.
- Credit-hogging: Taking credit for others’ work by claiming responsibility for a group report.
- Blame-buffering: Wasting time and energy by writing endless memos to distance yourself from potential bad decisions.
- Scapegoating: Faulting others for your own bad decisions or poor results.