A couple of weeks ago, the topic of the Weekly Ethics Thought – as well as the last post here on Ethics Nexus – was about the frequent need to expand the range of employees receiving ethics and values training. To expand on that, I’d like to suggest three specific groups especially worth adding to your list of ethics and values training recipients if they aren’t already included. The first two are singled out because of being high-risk groups often overlooked when developing ethics and values training.
Group 1 – Managers and front-line staff dealing with vendors. Collusion between employees and vendors is one of the biggest and fastest growing contributors to fraud and abuse in organizations, so ethics and compliance training initiatives should be especially careful to include this group. You may want to target these employees for more intensive oversight as well. Compliance training for this group should include specific information regarding contract and vendor-related matters. Of course, collusion can be entered into by other types of employees as well. However, those dealing with vendors are particularly vulnerable since supply-chain jobs and contract development are fraught with a variety of persistent and often complicated ethical challenges.
Group 2 – Front line managers just promoted into management. These individuals will likely be bringing with them whatever values and decision-making processes they learned on the front lines. These may have been shaped by a very different work experience than that of longer-term managers and so may be significantly different from what you might wish. Remember, their prior experience in your organization is more likely to have involved ‘coping’ with your organization’s mandates than modeling and enforcing them. (Lest it need to be said, this doesn’t make them bad employees, just ones who have had a different experience with your organization than your more experienced managers.) You need to promptly and carefully train those managers to both make and model the ethical choices you expect of them.
Group 3 – All new employees. Even if it is brief, adding a well-delivered ethics and values component to new employee orientation provides two significant benefits as long as it is, in fact, truly well-delivered and accurately represents your organizations values rather than simply being lip service. The first benefit is that it gets new employees thinking right off the bat about how to make the kinds of decisions you want them to make. The sooner they start practicing, the sooner they’ll be good at it! The second benefit is that the inclusion of ethics and values into your orientation sends the message that they are both critical and integral to how you do business.