Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Considering The Basics

I recall an interview with Peter O'Toole in which he spoke of a teacher who used to make his classes discuss basic concepts, such as loyalty.

Not a bad technique. We could use similar discussions in the workplace. For example:

Courage. What is it? How do we gain it? What can be done if it's missing? Can we be ethical without being courageous? How can a lack of courage create problems in the workplace?

Teamwork. What does it require? Which types of behavior harm it? Can true teams have castes? What are the characteristics of a sick team?

Fairness. What does "fair" mean? Can it ever be achieved? Is it wiser to strive for fairness or to avoid behavior, such as discrimination, that are opposites to fairness?

Respect. What are the basic elements of respect? Are there any actions that we take on a regular basis that can reasonably be perceived as disrespectful? Do we tolerate disrespect?

These, of course, are just a few. I've found that employees welcome the opportunity to discuss the basics because they hunger for clarification in the area of ethics. Management spends a great deal of time talking about what to do and not about what to be and when there is a gap between the two, it is extremely easy for people to slide into their old habits.

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