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January 17, 2012

Are You Reliable – Really?

Filed under: Management Practices8:48 pm

One of the many lessons I learned from my dad was to be sure I always “Mean what I say.”  In other words, do what you say you are going to do, every time.  As an organization, you want to send the message to your stakeholders that you are reliable.  If I dial a number on my phone, and the call doesn’t connect – or worse, disconnects when I’m mid-sentence – do I say my service is unreliable?  No, I probably won’t make that assumption the first time it happens.  But, if the same thing happens again (and again, and again), you can bet I’ll change companies.

How does your HR department measure up in terms of reliability?  We expect (and often demand) reliability from the companies we do business with and the people we work with, but when it comes to turning the mirror on ourselves, we often fail.  In some instances, failure to fulfill a promise may go unnoticed.  If you don’t deliver to your employees – by missing the deadline to deliver important benefit or payroll information, for example – you will quickly garner a reputation of unreliability.  If you forget to bring in the bagels or donuts when you said you would, you may want to stay away from the office altogether.

Eric Chester, author of Reviving Work Ethic: A Leader’s Guide to Ending Entitlement and Restoring Pride in the Emerging Workforce, believes the American worker has transitioned over the years into largely excusing their own unreliability and that has led to a compromised work ethic.  If you have employees who call in “sick” when they aren’t, you employ part of the 57% who said they call in sick when they just don’t feel like going to work.

According to Chester, the problem extends to our children.  As many of the nation’s schools have pushed the start time later and later, he wonders:

Have teens’ bodies suddenly changed? Are farmers able to get the chickens, pigs, and cows to sleep in until their kids are ready to feed them? Do you think students in India and China are watching Hulu until all hours of the night and sleeping the day away?

Me neither. Old Ben Franklin wasn’t blowing smoke when he penned that “early to bed, early to rise” rap. And I bet he didn’t write it at 2:00 a.m.

What do you think?  Has your HR department sustained a reliable culture in your organization?

Read Chester’s blog here.



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