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How to manage behaviour through a solid code of conduct

Codes of conduct are vital in the management of staff behaviour, and yet many SMBs fail to put one into practice in their organisation. This advice should help you to build a solid code of conduct, and put you on the right path to managing behaviours.

At some point, we’ve all experienced a workmate who has had a strong grasp on rather inappropriate words within the English language. We’ve ignored, asked politely for them to refrain from using such language, even in some instances complained to the boss. But the only way of combatting such behaviour is through the use of an effective code of conduct.

Now there are some “must have” points of a code. These are:

  1. Examples of required behaviour;
  2. Clearly defined expectations;
  3. Clearly defined consequences;
  4. And most of all, the absolute commitment to equal enforcement across the entire workforce.

Constructing a code of conduct can be difficult and time consuming, but taking into account the “must have” elements, plus confidentiality, value equity and diversity as well as a reporting mechanism for breaches of the code, will put you on the right path to managing behaviours.

Once you have a solid code of conduct in place, it is imperative that you reinforce the behavioural requirements to your employees – not just once, but on a regular basis. Tool box talks and performance management meetings are a couple of examples where code of conduct refresher statements can be made.

A recent decision (Applicant vs Linfox Armaguard Pty Ltd 2012 FWA4789) highlighted a number of inefficiencies in process, but it also brought out the obvious sanctioning of the unacceptable behaviour by the employer who had failed over a long period of time to address it.

While opinions vary about the outcome of the decision and what impacts it will have on other employers moving forward, the fact remains that such behaviour is still prevalent in workplaces. For the sake of your business and your employees, if this is happening in your neck of the woods, then it must stop… now.

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Michael Cosgrove

Michael Cosgrove

Michael's years of experience within the Industrial Relations arena has seen him contribute as a valued team member of Senior Management and Executive Leadership teams around the country. An acknowledged Specialist IR workplace trainer, and published subject matter expert on the My Business.com website, and Family Business Magazine, Michael is regarded as a highly tactical practitioner, and is focused on implementing strategies to improve employee engagement and productivity within businesses.

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