During the flux of mergers and acquisitions, we had engaged a telecommunications company that was enveloped with anxiety, doubt and paranoia because of a merger. The old employees felt that they were going to be replaced by new ones – resulting to non-performance. Satisfaction of KRAs, Strategic Objectives and KPIs was not met in this organizational state. Management felt the need to align, the old and new employees into one culture. The whole organization would have to be consistent as a whole and adhere to the principles set by a defined culture.
It began with the leaders defining the culture they wanted. It proceeded by using those definitions and making them the basis for the shaping of individuals from their attitude/behavior, job knowledge/skill, process/practice and customer relationship. Anxiety, doubt, and paranoia which wreaked havoc in the productivity of individuals and relationships with internal and external clients were arrested. This organization now enjoys a good synergy of old and new employees since the merger. Consistency in the delivery of service manifested even after those senior executives who initiated the cause for change had left. The culture of organizational integrity lives on to establish the organization’s growth in share of mind and market. People across business functions act together and consistently with integrity, resulting in organizational effectiveness and efficiency.
Ben Heineman, Jr. of Harvard, believes that acting with integrity is the key to any business success. Imagine an organization that have individuals who lack integrity and who at every point in the processes, from planning and decision making manifested half-truths or lies. When individuals, teams, and organizational systems lack integrity, the organization will lose its meaning and purpose. This should not happen if leaders such as CEOs and the Board act to form an organizational culture of integrity.
Integrity pertains to the adherence of people to moral and ethical principles. Integrity is living honestly – when a person’s entire state of being is whole and constant. Focusing on the most fundamental component of the organization – people, individually and collectively determine the actual direction of the organization. The way they think, reason, choose, act and plan contributes to the performance of the organization.
In a time where economies succumbed to havoc created by organizations and people who lacked integrity, it might be good to step back and align everyone to the value of integrity. Someone has to initiate cultural transformation that ignites and fuels success on all levels of the organization. Changes and cultural transformation happen when integrity emanates in the practices of the leaders themselves. The leaders are influencers and catalysts of changes in the organization.
In his book High Performance with High Integrity, Heineman expresses that companies should have, “A culture where it’s understood top to bottom that doing it the right way is as important as doing it.” To arrive at a culture of integrity, Heineman believes that first, integrity should drive the leaders to not just aspire but moreover be enablers, those who carry out the work. Leaders who aspire are mere dreamers while enablers are those who are empowered and empower others to utilize power, authority and competence to achieve the vision.
Second, across the operation of the organization whether belonging to an IT, Finance, Sales, Marketing, Human Resources and Operations department, it becomes the obligation of the leaders to ensure that integrity is embedded into the business process. One can see the theme of responsibility that is attached to integrity.
It is where leaders drive people to be “whole and entire” wherever they may be.
Third, integrity becomes a culture when the voice of individuals across levels, are heard. It is only when individuals who in their intellect, will and soul are given their due right to be acknowledged and form part of the shaping and building of the organizations that integrity settles. An organization with integrity has systems, structures and policies that permit people regardless of designation, to express ideas that may help in improving products, services, and the organization itself. One telecommunications organization started the integration of the GE workout as part of their strategy to allow people to grow and share in the innovation and evolution of their products.
A small lack of integrity could already bring a crisis at our doorstep. Banks were created to assist people and businesses with their transactions: handling their money, providing them loans to help them bridge their cash flow gaps and others. A group of rural banks made people believe that they can be trusted to take care of and grow the deposits of their clients. Instead, they used loan mechanisms and dissipated the deposits of the clients to ghost borrowers and juridical entities. The practitioners who form part of such bank, especially those who are involved in decision-making, have lost all integrity.
In the period after the fastest and largest financial crisis, we must all be aware that compromising our values may have severe adverse effects for our organization. Realigning ourselves, integrity fulfills the responsibility aspect attached to being a corporate citizen. Responsible trading and transacting activities emanate from a culture of integrity. To the organizations that form a nation and to the nations that form a world, integrity is about being whole and constant in the adherence to morals and principles, and its culture is when leaders care about others and not just their interest. Organizational integrity is a culture where everyone cares about one another and acts conscientiously in the pursuit of common goals.
Written by: Juan Paolo Bellosillo