Walking the line; staying ethical in HR

Walking the line; staying ethical in HR

As a HR professional, you spend your days having endless conversations with people---good conversations, bad ones, difficult ones, awkward ones, and friendly ones. People have been ‘popping’ into HR for years, and you end up as some sort of secret keeper, knowing everyone’s innermost thoughts, troubles, and dreams.

Therefore, you’re forever engaged in a delicate balancing act between building relationships and ensuring ethical behaviors and practices are on the top of everyone’s agenda, and it’s not easy. We take our hats off to those who do it every day because the line HR professionals walk down is often thin and not always straight, so we put some tips together on how to maintain the higher ground:

HR is a delicate balancing act between building relationships and ensuring ethical behaviors.Click To Tweet

Help me help you

You want all your employees to have a strong moral compass and always understand the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior; however, it’s naïve to expect that of them. Training, training, and more training is the answer instead. People come from an array of diverse backgrounds, and experiences and perspective vary wildly. Train them regularly on what the company deems ethical behavior and instill those learned behaviors from an early start. Often, people can’t see the problem with certain situations until it’s pointed out to them. As humans, we tend to always look at things form a one-dimensional point of view. Instead of dealing with unethical behaviors as they arise, be proactive and implement processes that prevent it from happening in the first place.

With great power comes great responsibility

Whether you like it or not, you’re in a position in which you are expected to lead by example. People are looking to you to set the tone, and they will also look to you for answers. Your behavior gives them permission and validates their own, which is why what you say and do matters so much. This rule also applies to your managers, and you should be holding them to high ethical standards. If you and other senior individuals all adhere to the same code of conduct, it will filter down through your teams until everyone is on the same page.

Your behavior gives them permission and validates their own.Click To Tweet

Talk to me

Part of creating an ethical culture rests on a person’s ability to discuss behaviors and situations that don’t quite fit. You want people to be able to report things easily without having a spotlight on them and without the fear or repercussion, especially if it involves a senior staff member. The number of incidents that go unreported because people don’t want the hassle is alarming. It is up to you to communicate regularly about processes and how people can approach you without notice. Make yourself available and create an environment in which discussing something is easy and comforting.

Make yourself available and create an environment in which discussing something is easy.Click To Tweet

Consistency is actually key

Who would have thought they were right, but they honestly are. Be rigidly consistent in your behaviors because your people will be quick to pick up on inconsistencies and unfair behavior. That’s not to say that every situation must be treated exactly the same because naturally ever situation is different, but basic rewards and punishments should follow the same pattern. Your people want to trust you, and that also involves trusting that when certain things happen, you will follow through like you said you would.

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