In the 1987 classic Movie Wallstreet, America witnessed a growing trend of the American Dream. Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen), a Wall Street stockbroker, wanted to get to the top at any cost. This short track path to riches led him to broker Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas). Gekka was shrewd and dangerous; his philosophy was built on “Greed is Good.” Fox soon became engulfed in the glamorous life of the powerful. But—it was at a high moral cost.
Scandals may drive media ratings and turn the trivial into the most critical. However, moral decay does not help companies compete or make society a better place. We’ve discussed the socio-technical system as it relates to global markets. In building effective socio-technical systems, one needs to focus on (a) value modeling, (b) technology relevancy, and (c) human factor buy-in. With the continual ethical failures of government officials and business executives on Wall Street, many workers view ethical policies of today’s organizations with some cynicism. Do you?
A high performing organization must model its values to both first line supervisors and managers in a socio-technical system. Many organizations expect employees to understand its culture, values, and principles by attending new employee orientation or by reading a company brochure. This is simply not going to happen.
Vince Adams, who has over 19 years as senior environmental manager, understands the delicacy of balancing a socio-technical system. Adams has extensive experience with both government and private organizations that are find themselves neglecting to outline and demonstrate their value systems to employees. Adams states, “Companies must build values into their employees so that employees know what the expectations are for that organization.”
James Kouzes and Barry Posner, authors of The Leadership Challenge, have researched over several thousand businesses and government executives and they outline setting the example as a critical attribute of effective leadership. Kouzes and Posner argue, “Once people are clear about the leader’s value, about their own values, and about shared values, they know what’s expected of them and can better handle the conflicting demands of work and personal affairs.” Therefore, employees expect leaders in organizations to model the way in their organizations, and this is also true for socio-technical systems.
Is it possible for today’s managers to regain the confidence of workers on the ethical front? If so, how
© 2010 by Daryl D. Green