How do savvy business leaders use their mission and code of conduct to drive results? They weave their mission and their code of conduct into the fabric of the workplace culture and every aspect of the business—from recruiting to onboarding, to team dynamics and career advancement, or, when necessary, discipline and termination.

When the values are integrated into the business, the values become part of the culture, which provides the structure that allows the team and business to grow in a healthy, productive way.

Core Values Must Be Real

It all starts with your organization’s core values. These values are not just sound bites on a poster that hangs on a wall. The values represent the beliefs and priorities of everyone who is leading and growing the business. The values should be consistent with the mission and purpose of the organization and socialized in such a way that every person in the organization knows them and can restate them, and agrees to adopt them as part of their employee experience. So, if they want to work at the company, then they need to embrace those values. That’s the starting point for integrating your values into the culture.

Once there, your values and code of conduct become the compass or “true north” to help make decisions about behavior and a shared language to facilitate discussion when actions or decisions start to veer off course.

Use Your Code as a Compass

Company leaders at all levels should be referencing cultural values on a regular cadence… such as through all hands meetings; fireside chats; Friday happy hours, etc. Whatever the venue, people need to hear the values on a regular basis and understand how they relate to current business situations or team dynamics—not in a vacuum as reflected in a corporate training program.

Eventually, every team is forced to make hard decisions—on marketing and sales opportunities; strategy decisions; team and talent decisions; finance decisions, etc.—and when those situations arise, the code of conduct, with its tool for making ethical decisions, is what helps guide people to make the right business decision.  Without that “true north,” it’s too easy to be emotionally reactive and make a short-sighted decision that has long-term negative consequences.

Put Your Code of Conduct Into Action

By integrating your code of conduct and core values into the culture, you have a shared language and expectations to guide behavior and decisions in a way that drives good business results!  Further, every code of conduct should have a decision-making tool. We believe in making things very simple and towards that end, we’ve developed our Workplace Color Spectrum™ to color code situations where someone is more likely to make a bad or unethical business decision.

Code of Conduct Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these code of conduct resources:

  • [Checklist] 5 Steps to Creating & Implementing a Modern Code of Conduct Program. In this guide, we lay out the steps to create a practical, integrated code of conduct program that supports a healthy workplace culture and identify key stakeholders that should be involved.
  • [Template] Code of Conduct Policy. Not sure what to include in your code of conduct or what format to use? Download our template to get started.
  • [Checklist] Conflicts of Interest. Identify potential conflicts of interest and learn how to avoid them with this one-page checklist.
  • [Video] How to Make More Ethical Decisions. Renowned ethicist Chris MacDonald of the popular Business Ethics Blog discusses how to use the discipline of critical thinking to make more ethical decisions and better understand Ethics and Code of Conduct training in your organization

Ready to take the next step with your Code of Conduct? Preview our code of conduct course.