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What You Permit, You Promote

May 15, 2015 | Communication, Leadership, Trust

“What you permit, you promote.”  This quote can be attributed to many different sources.  However, the first time I heard it was at the “What’s Right in Health Care”  annual conference held by the Studer Group in 2009.  Just from listening to the quote, we can infer what this means.  Unwanted, but permitted attitudes/behaviors are promoted because they are not answered with negative consequence or action.

Many leaders and organizations are guilty of this practice.  One main reason is that the leader wants to avoid an “uncomfortable” conversation with their supervised employee but another reason may be that they don’t realize that their actions promote unwanted behaviors.  Two ways that leaders can immediately address this practice are creating a standards of behavior for one’s organization and creating and implementing an objective evaluation tool for employees.

Standards of behavior are designed to go beyond the normal reach of an employee hand book that usually addresses dress code and timeliness but also adds standards for attitude, teamwork, responsibility, communication, customer service, and respect and dignity.  Current employees are required to sign an acknowledgement form stating that they have read and agree to abide by the standards stated in the document.  To go a step further, candidates that are invited to be interviewed for an open position should also be required to read and sign an acknowledgement stating that if hired, they agree to abide by these standards.  This gives leaders an excellent tool to not only communicate the standards in which employees should conduct themselves but also to act as a way to constructively address situations when employees do not meet these standards.

The second solution which is recommended by the Studer Group is creating and implementing an objective evaluation tool. Often, leaders may not be specifically happy with an employee’s performance but their annual evaluation does not demonstrate as such.  Furthermore, the evaluation itself only measures subjective items such as attitude, teamwork, and responsibility which should be covered in the standards of behavior.  The evaluation tool should only address goals that which can be measured, and a scoring system must be applied to ensure objectivity.

When implemented correctly, both practices can ensure that only good or great are rewarded.  Also, results that are not up to expectations can either provide moments for coaching and improvement plans or a means for the organization and employee to part ways.

What are some other ways that we permit what we promote?  What are some other practices that ensure that we only promote positive behaviors and results?


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