How Do We Measure Integrity in Our Workforce?
September 2005 A reader asks Dear Workforce, an HR newsletter by Workforce Management, how to measure integrity. David Gebler, president of Working Values, a SmartPros subsidiary, responds with a three-step solution.
The integrity of our staff is a lingering question each day. We consider it at recruitment, at deployment and during day-to-day work processes. Yet it is also a fairly elusive matter. How could we develop an "action strategy" to meaningfully measure integrity in our workforce?
-- Bummed Out by Behavior, human resources, government, Kampala, Uganda
Every organization wants to measurably increase integrity throughout management, operations, sales and administration. Yet as we know from Peter Drucker, you can't manage something unless you can measure it.
The good news is that there are ways to objectively measure integrity so that effective action strategies can be developed and deployed. Three key steps help you effectively measure integrity:
Identify integrity-based behaviors
What should integrity "look like" in each area of your business? In recruiting, for example, what actions or statements demonstrate integrity? What about in sales? In operations?
Integrity need not be an elusive concept. Behaviors indicative of integrity tend to collect around common themes, such as a person’s ability to openly communicate with others or to do the right thing in spite of peer pressure. Or perhaps it’s a manager who nurtures a work environment in which it is OK to share bad news and mistakes.
Use surveys and interviews to prioritize a list of the top five or 10 behaviors you desire most in your employees. There should be a consensus that if people demonstrate those behaviors, then your organization is living up to its own expectations of integrity.
You may discover, for example, that the organization's integrity is affected by techniques used to learn competitive information from candidates during hiring. That should cause you to review each step along the recruiting process and identify practices in need of modification.
Examine whether these behaviors are being followed
Once you identify integrity-based behaviors, you must next ensure that employees follow suit. An assessment (again, either through interviews or surveys) helps create a baseline to determine whether these behaviors are being observed and taken seriously. Many companies now tie behavior to employees’ performance reviews or career goals.
Evaluate the culture behind existing behaviors
Identifying and measuring key behaviors may not be enough to effect the desired change. People may know the rules but be unable or unwilling to follow them when facing pressure from managers, or even peers. You will need to address any cultural impediments that prevent integrity from taking root in your company. Find out what types of work pressures encourage, if not force, people to act unethically.
Perhaps certain values, such as personal accountability or satisfying stakeholders, are not well established in your organization. Take time to understand the values and beliefs that drive the sought-after behaviors. In the end, the key to measuring integrity is to take it out of the conceptual and make it tangible. Identify the specific behaviors that are characteristic of integrity and find out why those behaviors are not being followed to leadership’s satisfaction.
-- David Gebler, President, Working Values, Boston, September 9, 2005.
This article is reprinted by permission from Dear Workforce.
Learn more: 76+ articles and other items about ethics from Workforce Management.2005 Dear Workforce. Used with permission.