[Advice] Values and Character

Values and character matter more than educational level when hiring people in an organization.

We can debate why that fact is important, but many organizations suffer from the effects of ethical lapses, poor judgment calls, and eroding communication patterns because they valued education above values and character.

Education in employees.

Education in upper management.

Education in board members.

Organizations very often struggle to define their own ethics and values, and thus struggle to hire people that are—well—ethical.

But there is a way out of this:

Determine what organizational ethics are and stick to them. Make them an integral part of the DNA of your organization. Have the courage to stick with those ethics, even when they impact the bottom line in the short-term.

Hire ethical people. The fact of the matter is, most (if not all) organizations are in a global war to hire and retain the most talented people that they can. And if a small manufacturer in Scranton, Pennsylvania and a large manufacturer in Birmingham, England are trying to get the same employees, the one who has a clear ethical stance will go a long way toward being competitive.

Get rid of unethical people. The whine here usually is “Well, we can’t get rid of (insert name of employee who is liked/perceived as bringing value to the organization here) because then we would get sued.” The majority of states in the US are “at-will” employment states. With this in mind, building in arbitration clauses (there are two kinds of arbitration, binding and non-binding) to employment contracts, creating NDA’s and fashioning a system where employees are educated on what their rights are, allows the organization to get rid of unethical people.

In reality, for most organizations, a lot of this comes down to having the courage to focus around the long-game of developing and encouraging values and character, rather than the short-game of quarterly revenue growth.

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