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A sign of the times?


Today the BBC has announced in response to yet another competition scam that it will be running "truthfulness and honesty" training sessions for all staff.

I was just wondering how other trainers or professionals in general feel about this, can we train "truthfulness and honesty" and more to the point should we?

Integrity and ethics should be ingrained, is it a measure of how weak today's corporate society is that this should be a training need?

Surely this is more of a question of changing the corporate policy - rather than training?
Nik Kellingley

6 Responses

  1. catch all
    I actually feel annoyed by this type of response (The BBC’s, not yours).
    Truthfulness and honesty are, as you say, ethics and should be ingrained. Where they aren’t it is almost always (in these types of cases rather than simple thieving) as a result of actual or percieved management pressure, so what is the point of “training” all the folks at the bottom of the pile when they are then ordered, explicitly or implicitly, to behave unethically?
    I also seem to remember that a constant cry from the Beeb and their Unions has been that the “problem is caused by the fact that programmes are no longer made by staffers but by outside contractors”, so training the staff is a fairly pointless exercise.

    The reason they fall back on “training” is two fold;
    1. We have spent £xxx therefore we can be seen to have have taken appropriate action
    2. Since you attended this training you knew the official stance therefore your unethical behaviour is entirely your responsibility therefore you can’t claim ignorance and can be justifiably sacked.

    In their defence they can reasonably say that the training is to either explain the changes to corporate policy or to reinforce corporate policy in order to achieve point 2) above.
    (given that in the recent local authority case where people were sacked summarily for spending two hours a day on ebay, the union’s defence was that the LAs policy didn’t specify how much time you could or could spend on ebay each day!)
    Rant over

  2. Honesty training
    I am included to agree with you and Rus that training may not be the best response in this instance. However, I think there is an interesting role for training to play in influencing the culture and in promoting best practice.
    You say that integrity and honesty should be ingrained but don’t say how. And we don’t know why this drift has happened at the BBC and elsewhere. Maybe – just maybe – training has not done enough to support and incolcate the desired values.
    I’m a great believer that induction is as much about orientating people to the culture as it is about filling them with information. I’m not advocating that training should explicitly change people’s attitudes – as with things like equality and diversity, training is more appropriate for influencing behaviour and setting out standards than it is in directly changing attitudes. But, like it or not, training can affect attitudes, beliefs and perceptions. We should all be alive to that fact and, if only as role models, we should aim to do our bit to nurture the right culture for the organisations we work in.
    We should all ask ourselves whether we are part of a degenerate change by merely going with the cultural flow, or whether we are helping to create a successful future by working with the ‘real’ needs of the organisation, not just those that immediately present themselves.
    On that rather serious note, I though I might set up a sponsors phone vote to get others views. The prize? A three day honesty course!

  3. This is a people issue, but not a training issue
    Just like the misselling of endownments, this whole issue of misleading the public is likely to have been encouraged by a set of conditions, the climate if you like.

    I really doubt that it was caused by a misunderstanding of what is or isn’t ethical, rather it was probably about pressure.

    Ultimately, climate is down to leadership, so if anyone needs to be “trained” it is probably nthe very people that have decided that their people need to be trained…

    Rob Robson
    Apter International

  4. Proof of the pudding
    Hmm. It’s not like me to take the cynical line, but there’s a backlash to this one and I’ve been stung by it in the past!

    How do you suppose the Beeb (substitute organisation name of choice) powers that be would react if the truthfulness and honesty of one of their staff members jeopardised a £multimillion deal they were trying to land?

    Spin has become so much a part of our culture, that truthfulness and honesty may only be tolerated when the organisation stands to benefit from it. There may be a tacit “up to a point” involved, that employees are expected just to know on some subconscious level.

  5. Joint Responsibility
    Hi Nik

    It’s an interesting point you raise and in these days of spin, it’s often difficult to get beyond the smoke and mirrors, which now seem to have become an accepted part of our business culture.

    Unfortunately, a lot of television programmes etc see, to endorse untruthful behaviour, so long as you’re a winner!

    I guess we all need to take responsibility in our corporate dealings to demonstrate ethical behaviour.

    I can’t see that training would harm, but it”s a shame it appears to be necessary in the first place.

    Best wishes



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