Towards the end of 2015 we helped our client Associated Grain design a Code of Conduct. This innovative organisation is always looking to get out in front of issues and proactively self-determine what behaviour is acceptable and not acceptable for itself. Some of the discussion we facilitated was around whether components of a Code of Conduct, like, ‘treat people with respect’ should be obvious and therefore unnecessary to make explicit.

Quite simply, it is critical that organisations clearly articulate what they stand for and the bahavioural benchmark or bar they want to set for their staff. Remember, the culture of an organisation is shaped by the worst behaviour leaders are willing to tolerate.

Further, research finds that when people are reminded about ethical standards they are less likely to break the rules or cheat, that is, an ethics code works in reducing unwanted behaviour or cheating. So telling people something like ‘It is not acceptable to misappropriate company, customer or client funds or resources’ sounds obvious but helps reduce the incidence of such behaviour. Be proactive, set your own behavioural standards and communicate them constantly.

Some years ago, my article, The Psychology of Cheating in Sport, Business & Life was published in Storm. This week, as we dived into codes of conduct I revisited the article and thought there has never been a more important time for organisations to be clear about the type of behaviour they want to stand for and the type of conduct they will not tolerate. You can read my article here.

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