Employees push boundaries. They do so not because they don’t respect the company or the rules; they do it because they often don’t understand why it’s a “big deal” or a problem.
They aren’t thinking about the organization-wide impact; they are only thinking about their situation.
It’s the leadership’s responsibility to educate employees on why companies establish rules, precedents, & boundaries.
A long-time employee in a client’s organization resigned a few weeks ago, after she created a very risky situation for my client. She surprisingly and willingly resigned by submitting a formal resignation letter.
The following week, she came to my client and asked if she could file for unemployment benefits. My client asked me for guidance on the issue. I said absolutely not, for these reasons:
- The former employee voluntarily submitted a resignation letter once she realized she backed herself into a corner by choosing to engage in unethical and illegal behavior. Employees who resign are not entitled to unemployment. The system is designed to support employees who have been terminated by the employer. If my client acquiesces, she is supporting misuse of the system. This contradicts their company core value of Integrity.
- If she agrees to allow a resigned employee to take advantage of the system and file, then this opens the floodgates for future employees who resign to demand the same treatment. It sets a precedent.
“Just this once” always leads to a slippery slope for employees. This is one reason why core values are so important. When in doubt regarding a decision, returning to our core values always leads to clarity.
In another example, I have two additional clients that struggle with certain employees arriving late and leaving early. These behaviors chip away at a company’s morale. Other employees always notice.
Not respecting the established workday guidelines shows disrespect for the company, the job they are doing, their supervisor, and the rest of the employees. When employers know that an employee is taking advantage of the system, and they fail to act on it, they are communicating to the rest of the team (that respects the rules) that the rules don’t apply to a specific employee.
Consistency in expectations of employee behavior is essential in building a trust-based, collaborative culture. Preferential treatment, or tolerance of behaviors that imply favoritism, can quickly unravel an otherwise healthy culture.
Leaders should proceed with caution when evaluating “Just this once.”
Are you experiencing any behaviors in your organization that are chipping away at your culture? I would love to hear about them. Please reach out to me and we can set up a Skype call to chat about them.
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We work with business owners, CEOs, and leadership teams that want to achieve their greatest personal & organizational potential. Through coaching, strategic consulting, retreat facilitation, and workshops, we equip leaders & emerging leaders with the mindset, tools, strategies, and processes they need to excel.
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CEO, Successful Culture
“Taking Leaders from Triage to Transformation.”