Civility and the practice of ethical behavior within your company can translate to meaningful relationships between managers, employees, business partners, and customers. It is a fundamental aspect of successful businesses, and is something that requires setting expectations along with guidance.

Behavioral Standards

Examples of these include proper phone etiquette, positivity, respect among coworkers, and maintaining a professional manner within the workplace. Most companies outline the importance of appropriate office behavior during the interview process through their code of conduct. Providing this document gives you the opportunity to ask for a potential employee’s word before hiring by asking him or her to sign an agreement. Any violations of this agreement could merit consequences, or cause grounds for termination depending on the gravity of an employee’s actions.

Interpersonal communication should be monitored to an extent. Paying attention to how employees interact with one another is an efficient indicator in one’s level of professionalism. However, this is not limited to the behavior exuded toward coworkers, but also toward superiors and customers. Any form of bullying, harassment, or lack of respect should not be tolerated.

The behavior of managers or administrative figures is just as, if not more important than that of standard employees. A misuse of power, resources, or finances should be met with discipline as well. Examples of this can include unfairly giving preference to certain employees, or claiming expenses for personal use like food or hotel accommodations. Honesty and respect should be held as the highest standards for those in managerial positions.

In anticipation of these circumstances, set forth a progressive discipline plan. Give your employees warnings for their first, less serious breach of conduct. If they repeat their actions, follow up with a more severe punishment. This practice gives employees a chance to recognize and change their inappropriate behavior while continuing to work for your company.

Ethical Standards

Setting these standards should encourage all employees to make the best decisions for the company as a whole, rather than individual gain. Open communication is vital in order to preserve a business’s ethics. Employees should not be discouraged from coming forward if they notice inappropriate behavior of any kind.

Establishing company programs focused on ethics that openly discuss the core values of your business will equip your staff with the figurative “tools” they need to recognize unethical behavior, and what to do in such situations. When a company stresses the importance of ethics in their overall mission, employees will more than likely follow suit. Simply regarding financial profit as an achievement with little to no care of the ethics involved does not give a good impression to a business’s employees.

Fairness is another crucial aspect of ethical behavior, which mainly falls into the lap of managers. As mentioned before, giving more preference to one employee while others fall by the wayside can create ethical dilemmas. Addressing each employee’s issues, business or personal, with an equal amount of concern shows the level of ethics you wish to set forth.

Setting both behavioral and ethical standards in the workplace creates an efficient and enjoyable environment, while also showing outsiders the level of professionalism that comes with your business. For those in the beginning stages of developing your company, consider all aspects listed above in order to give yourself the best chance of success.