“Always let your conscience be your guide.” Jiminy Cricket
Humans are hardwired to ‘Do the Right Thing’. We want to protect ourselves, our loved ones and the world around us. We yearn to do our bit to leave the world a better place for future generations.
In our careers, our priority is to focus on short term interests and security of ourselves and those closest. We rarely challenge the prevailing beliefs and culture of our employers. Totems, sacred cows and awkward truths are best avoided, or so it seems.
In our hyper-connected business and organisational world, this is becoming harder to do.
Let’s take the example of plastic. Thanks to the BBC series ‘Blue Planet 2’, the impact and scale of toxic plastic pollution has crashed like a wave onto the shore of our moral conscience. The thought of the destruction of precious marine life, and the poisoning of our oceans, causes us real pain and anguish. What kind of a world are we creating?
This clashes with our awareness of the the way we are contributing to the problem, directly or indirectly, in all aspects of the economic activity we are part of. Are we ‘wilfully blind’, or avoiding bringing our conscience to the table.
I was moved on a leadership programme I ran recently when a factory director of an iconic chocolate brand admitted that, even though he had always been proud of his role, he was troubled by his conscience. Was he “peddling diabetes and obesity”?
Listening and responding to his conscience was only possible because we had taken time to build trust within the group. We had created a safe space.
Having expressed his feelings, others followed with their own stories of moral dilemmas and personal challenges . All had a strong hidden ‘Jiminy Cricket’ voice that wanted to speak. The resultant discussion turned from hand wringing and guilt, to creativity, innovation and stronger interpersonal team bonds.
Talking about our conscience needs to become normal. How then can we listen to our conscience, do the right thing and protect our position?
The key is to shift from Me to We. Rather than the dangerous position of being the moral ‘whistleblower’, the conversation needs to be opened up as a team. It is a team issue.
At We-Q have addressed this problem head on. The team App asks colleagues to measure five aspects of ‘Doing the Right Thing’ scored 1-7. This can be anonymous or named.
Each question addresses our feelings towards different stakeholders affected by what we do. This ranges from us personally, right out to care for the planet as a whole.
1. We share values
What are our values? What matters to each of us? Do our corporate and personal values align?
2. We value diversity
Are we listening to a wide range of opinions? Whose opinion should we be listening to?
3. We are open with stakeholders
We have nothing to hide from the people affected by our decisions.
How can we build even more trusting relationships with the people who matter to us?
4. We balance work and home life
The extent to which team members personal and professional lives are balanced.
Do the unspoken work norms suit certain people but stress others? How can be improve?
5. We make the world a better place
Are we creating a positive value for society and the environment to thrive sustainably?
Is our conscience clear when we think about our impact? What could we be doing better?
Once the data is displayed, the team are able to talk about their conscience and collectively discuss the issues raised. The conversations build awareness, alignment and trust leading to better strategic decision making.
It is time to give expression to the Jiminy Cricket in all of us.
'Doing the right thing' is one of the four pillars of We-Q, the We-Q team diagnostic tool which enables teams to instantly self measure team engagement, effectiveness and alignment.