What's the Secret Code?

Larry Galler

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As a youngster I loved reading spy / adventure novels. They were always exciting and adventuresome. In most of them there was a “secret code, ” used to communicate without fear of “the other side” being able to decipher communications and understand what was transpiring.

I have observed that, in many businesses, a “Code of Conduct” is also a “secret code. ” When I hear a businessperson say, “They should know that’s not the way we do things here” I ask whether they have a written policy regarding that issue. I might as well ask if they have a process for creating gold from water so I guess that the way they want their company to perform is a secret. Few small and mid-size companies have defined professional and performance standards for the company and its staff. Yet all employees need (some even seek) standards that define boundaries and ethics. If a “Code” is a secret and not defined, employees will individually set standards on their own resulting in chaos, uneven delivery of service, and efforts working at cross-purpose. A “Code of Conduct” can be defined starting with a definition of “The Ideal” (The “Ideal” way we greet customers, the “Ideal” way we fill out our time cards, the “Ideal” way we bag the groceries, etc. ) and commit the “Code” to writing.

Having a “Code” demonstrates that management cares about the people and the work culture, affects retention and productivity, creates a climate of unity which establishes trust, and allows the guidelines to manage rather than management micro-managing everything.

I lost my taste for spy / adventure novels as I matured and found other interests more exciting. As a business matures it finds that managing by system (A written Code of Conduct is just one part of that system) allows the company time, energy, and resources to continually move forward based on higher staff performance and the ever higher expectations of the customers

Larry Galler coaches and consults with high-performance executives, professionals, and small businesses since 1993. He is the writer of the long-running (every Sunday since November 2001) business column, “Front Lines with Larry Galler" Sign up for his free newsletter at http://www.larrygaller.com Questions??? Send an email to larry@larrygaller.com


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