When an employee credibly criticizes an action within an organization, how does the institution typically respond?
The answer to this question is one of the most telling signs of organizational culture and integrity. Consider:
- Are there legitimate, trustworthy mechanisms for open communication?
- Does feedback run bottom up and laterally as well as top down?
- Do people in authority take the time to listen?
- Are complaints greeted dismissively, perhaps treated as digging up issues from the past — even if “the past” was only weeks or months ago?
- Can an individual expect to be ignored, shunned, bullied, mobbed, or otherwise retaliated against for raising a concern?
Often we tend to separate how organizations respond to worker feedback generally from how they treat allegations of unethical or illegal behavior.
In reality, organizational leaders who have the confidence to solicit and listen to worker feedback generally also are likely to have the integrity to treat allegations of wrongful behavior fairly and responsively. Poor leaders, however, are more likely to fall short on both measures.
This is the second of three short posts this week on organizational planning, behavior, and leadership.