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Memo to Managers
Keeping Off-Site Employees Connected With Our Organization’s Mission and Values
Employees who work outside of our normal workplaces—including those working at home or in other countries—present special challenges for managers. For instance, because they are physically separate, it can be easy to pay less attention to them and to assume everything is going well. It also can be harder to ensure their actions are consistent with our code of conduct and policies.
However, nothing reinforces and nourishes our ethical culture more than the words and actions of the leader who employees interact with most often—you, their manager. As a manager of a remote employee or employees, you should make an extra effort to consistently:
- Reach out to your remote and overseas employees on a regular schedule. Regular communication is essential—and not just via email. Remember, the goal is to build a personal connection. Call and have a one-on-one chat, just as you would with onsite employees. If reaching overseas employees means getting up early in the morning or staying up late at night, do it—it will be all the more meaningful to the employee.
- Listen to your remote and global employees. That sounds obvious, but it can be easy to discount the ideas or concerns of someone when you lack the connection that comes from being face-to-face. If remote or global employees feel they are not heard or valued, they will tune out. Also, clearly and consistently reiterate that you want to hear from remote and global employees—and they should feel free to call you anytime.
- Find ways to build messages about our values into conference calls and other communications with remote and global team members. You don’t have to have long discussions—two to three minutes each week or so will often have more impact than half an hour per quarter. Think along the lines of a “safety minute,” a way many manufacturing and industrial companies start each meeting.
- Urge all team members, including remote and global employees, to speak up when they believe our code of conduct or policies are being violated. Remember that in some cultures, speaking up is not the norm. Sincere, frequent encouragement will demonstrate that you truly want to hear about potential problems as soon as possible.
- Praise—as often as possible—employee actions that reflect our values. Nothing works like positive reinforcement. Highlight remote and global employees whenever possible.
Employees who work off-site can increase the risk of ethics and compliance violations. But that risk can be significantly mitigated by the tone you as a manager set—and your diligence in making meaningful connections with off-site employees can have a huge, positive impact on our corporate culture.
Questions of the Month
Q: Some of my global team members feel that our anti-bribery and conflict of interest policies are misguided. For them, “grease payments” are a way of life and doing business with friends or family is seen as a way to ensure high quality and timeliness. How do I help them embrace the values behind our policies?
A: Engage the employees in a dialogue. Allow them to explain the merits of the prohibited practices. Do not reject their views out of hand, but instead look for ways to tie the merits they mention to values that our organization shares—such as serving our customers to the best of our ability. In that context, explain that our policies are designed to ensure the best prices and highest quality for our customers. Also, share the idea that when there is no bribery, we can all compete on an even footing. Of course, don’t forget to explain that we also are subjected to a variety of laws that prohibit bribery—so we have no choice anyway. You may not convince your employees right away, but respectful, ongoing dialogue will maximize your chances of success.
Q: I have a remote employee who is almost always silent on team conference calls. I’m worried he may not be fully engaged. Is there anything I can do to draw him into the discussion more?
A: First, consider whether the meeting conditions make participation difficult. For instance, if you and others are gathered around a speaker phone and talking to one another, it may be difficult for the remote employee to hear you—or to find a good time to break in. Also, what time of day are the meetings? If they are scheduled in the early morning or late night for the remote employee, it wouldn’t be surprising if he is tired. Always try to schedule meetings at times that show respect for remote employees. Second, think of ways to affirmatively invite the remote employee to join in: Ask his opinion about something, ask him to give a brief presentation, etc. Third, call him separately and explain that you are concerned by his silence and want to be sure everything is okay.
Q: Some of my global team members complain that messages coming from the ethics and compliance team are culturally insensitive. How should I respond?
A: Please tell the employees we are glad they raised this issue. Generally speaking, we rely on managers to be the voice for your remote and global employees. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if our messages are somehow off-target, culturally clumsy, or poorly timed. Your feedback not only will allow us to make needed changes but also will allow your employees to see you as their advocate, which will strengthen your relationship with them.
Investigations of potential misconduct can be taxing for any organization. But for organizations operating in multiple countries, the variability of data privacy laws around the globe present a special challenge. This post considers the data privacy issues raised by an ethics and compliance officer's investigation.
Using Compliance Communicator
Equipping managers with the skills they need to navigate the E&C challenges they face is critical. Use the content in Compliance Communicator to help keep compliance top of mind with your managers and strengthen your organizational culture. NAVEX Global grants you permission to publish any or all of the content to best suit your needs.
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