Incorrect communication can lead to crises. When we talked about crises last year, it was especially those caused by malicious intent. Social engineers, hackers, fraudsters, narcissists and other perpetrators. Today, all over the world, we are talking about a virus that is leading us into crisis. Covid-19. This crisis also demands rules of conduct and adequate communication.
Value system: Code of Conduct
Past misconduct – Enron, Volkswagen and Co. send their regards – has prompted companies to take measures to prevent such misconduct. The aim is to ensure that those responsible make ethical decisions and act accordingly. A Code of Conduct has been drawn up, training courses held and internal and external communication adapted accordingly.
“A value system which puts people under even more pressure in crises increases misconduct and non-compliance!”
The power of communication
With the adapted communication style, the companies try to create a “we-feeling”. But do we as individuals identify more strongly with a company when we speak of “we”?
Studies show that employees who were addressed on a more personal level (“we”, “you”, “our team”, etc.) believed that they were in a forgiving and tolerant environment compared to employees who were addressed in a highly formal way. Accordingly, misconduct would be less punished and sanctioned.
“The misconduct of employees who think they are in a tolerant environment is increasing.”
Communication supports Compliance
This well-meant adaptation of the language, well meant for the culture of a company, can have massive consequences in terms of non-compliance. The differences are subtle when viewed from the outside. However, the unconscious interpretation of the chosen communication style by employees has consequences for a company’s compliance.
They can provide significant indications of the organisation’s tolerance of non-compliance. Companies would be well advised if those responsible carefully examined the communication style of the Code of Conduct and the associated internal and external communication.
Less personal language is considered one of the important measures for developing an effective Code of Conduct and forms the basis for guidelines for integrity and ethical conduct by employees.
Case study Crisis: behavioural instructions regarding Corona virus
Analyze the current behavioral arrangements in connection with COVID-19.
Where do you discover these erroneously well-intentioned communication styles? There is a high risk that they will not be followed, even though you have formulated them favourably.
We currently see this pattern in the context of accompanying our clients through the current crisis. It is obvious how big the hurdle is to communicate clearly and concisely. So that the message gets through. It is important to take the lead through clear, precise and consistent communication.
Are you already a role model? What communication style do you use to prevent non-compliance within the company and its consequences?