Sunday, 26 May 2013

Take control of your ABCs to make your governance initiatives successful!

What is your company culture? How does your organization view change? Is change accepted or do employees drag their heels and fight it like a child throwing a temper tantrum? COBIT5.0 talks about seven enablers; one of these is “Culture, Ethics and Behavior”. Today I want to discuss Attitude, Behavior and Culture (ABCs) and discuss their impact on your organization.

company-culture.jpgWhy is culture important?

The adoptability of change is determined by the culture of the organization. This adaptability can include:
  • Enterprise risk appetite
  • Organizational appetite to change enablement
  • History and legacy of the organization
  • Deep rooted values and principles governing the business
  • And many other factors
With many organizations having global presence, one size does NOT fit all and initiatives have to be tailor-made to suit to the culture. This is the only way to gain acceptance and facilitate institutionalization.

Culture has a bearing on the communication methodologies to be adopted (Vocal/Non Vocal), preferred leadership styles and above all, understanding what appeals to the task force to get things done. When I conduct Management of Organizational Change (MoC) programs, I spend considerable time and effort understanding the culture of the organization. When I design a facilitate approach for enabling change, I look at their previous success with enabling change, their organizational structure and leadership styles.

How do Ethics and Values contribute?

Ethical behavior cascades from the CIO or executive board of the organization down to the people. Employees closely follow how the senior management addresses unethical behavior as they conduct business with customers/partners and fellow employees. When upper management takes serious actions against undesirable behavior and immediately communicates it to the task force, it sends a strong message. Employees hear, “Be vigilant and on-guard; or else be ready to meet dire consequences.”

business-ethics.jpgMany organizations have mandatory trainings and refresher courses on “Ethics and Compliance” every year to reinforce the standard of business conduct and encourage people to conduct business in fair and ethical manner. The CEO and the leadership team must walk the walk and implement the values of the organization in all dealings. This helps to institutionalize it as part of the organizational culture

The spirit of upholding the organizational values must be acknowledged and rewarded among employees to set the precedence and follow in day-to day practice. In addition, there has to be an Ethical and Compliance Team that provides assistance for employees and people to solicit advice anonymously and take decisions appropriately. These aspects will strengthen the code of discipline and institutionalize a value system throughout the organization culture.

How do you inculcate desirable behavior?

Behavior of the people is driven by four essential parameters:
  • a) Policy
  • b) Process
  • c) Values
  • d) Objectives

These have to be linked together and feedback has to be solicited to promote desirable behavior. If there is a report of non-adherence, it is important to identify the true reason and rational behind not following. Then work on a consensus to make amendments for people to adopt and follow without inhibitions.

A good starting point would be to have a mandatory training on “Professionalism and Etiquette of Corporate life” for all employees/partners joining the organization to illustrate desired behavior. A handy handbook at the local Intranet site would serve as ready reckoner. In order to demonstrate consistent behaviors, it has to become a habit to get the desired behavior. This means providing a platform to reward employees with the right attitude. Remember, you can train people and get them the required skills and competencies, but attitude has to come from within. With this understanding, an organization’s hiring process should lay emphasis on attitude more than aptitude to recruit the right resources with positive attitude and reliance on team work.

You need to take control of your ABCs (Attitude, Behavior and Culture) to make your Governance Initiatives successful

What has been your take on Culture, Ethics and Behavior in the context of IT Governance? I want to hear about your experiences, share them in the comments section below

This article was published at HP Software Blog on 25th January

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