Why your business needs whistle-blowers

By Tayo Leigh

 19 Oct 2015     Comments

The issue of ‘whistle-blowing’ in business is often contentious. Sometimes people can put themselves in danger by speaking out, or some companies will discourage honesty if it affects them negatively.

When something goes wrong - an accounting issue, a contract, or a manufacturing problem - then ‘blowing the whistle’ can have far reaching effects for everyone.

But failing to encourage a culture of honesty can spell disaster for your company. Not knowing there’s a problem can mean you find out only when it’s too late.

To ensure you are never caught unaware, here’s 5 ways you can help build a culture of honesty in your company:

Think ahead

At the start of every project ask your team to say what will most likely go wrong. People can speak freely as nothing has happened yet, but if it comes true then no one will be afraid to mention it as it’s already been discussed.

Have one to ones

In a group situation people will naturally stay quiet for fear of saying the wrong thing. Speak to your staff on their own and they are far more likely to be honest. About themselves and their colleagues.

Resolve problems

One of the most destructive element in any company is when people feel their concerns or others’ bad behaviour goes unnoticed or unaddressed. For example if one person is late every day and their boss says nothing, others will start doing the same.

Have rules

If your company’s rules are clear then no one can complain if they break them. It may seem hard to welcome a new starter with a list of what they can and can’t do, but it will make a difference. Even if you tell staff there are no rules, other than getting your work done, at least they know what’s expected of them.

Reward honesty

If the response to reporting a mistake is anger, then people will be scared to be honest in the future. People make mistakes, sometimes because they hadn’t been briefed properly, and so instead of focusing on them view it as a shared problem and they’ll feel supported and less likely to do it again. If they do continue getting it wrong, well maybe you do need to get rid of them!

Be clear with your staff that you rely on them, and that you need to be kept in the loop and you are far more likely to catch a small problem before it comes a huge problem!


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