Companies spend a great deal of effort developing their Code of Conduct, and training employees to understand it. Some companies instruct their employees to confirm in writing that they have read and understood and agree to follow the rules. Requiring signatures emphasizes the seriousness of the Code of Conduct and improves the legal basis for disciplining employees who violate it.
Who will be promoted?
Consider the following case. Two sales managers, each with five years experience, are working in adjoining areas for your company. Mr.Slick knows every trick for getting a sale, including how to get around the rules when he needs to. Inappropriate or excessive entertainment, obtaining information on competing bids in a tender process, exaggerating specifications…yet he is careful not to go too far. Mr. Clean on the other hand takes the Code of Conduct more seriously, and follows both the spirit and the letter of company policy. Both salesmen regularly achieve their quotas, but Slick has achieved better results than Clean in 7 of the last 8 quarters. In your company, which is more likely to be promoted to regional sales manager, Slick or Clean?
Do we really mean it?
This case example could be re-written to fit different positions and organizations. The question is, to what extent do we include ethical behavior when we evaluate employee performance? If we punish good behavior and turn a blind eye to successful rule breakers, we will wind up with a company full of rule breakers and ethical time bombs.