Doing Nothing About Bad Behaviour… Poor Choice for Branding

I recently blogged about how employee behaviour over the internet can damage a business’ brand, and why setting expectations around such behaviour is so important. Today’s blog also touches on damage to branding, this time with a “green” tinge.

For those of you who know me, I am fairly passionate about the environment, our planet and all of the citizens of our planet (not just the human ones) and how we really should be looking after all of these things better.

I recorded this blog while driving south along the M3 from Newcastle (thank you to my awesome transcriber Janna). I’d been following two traffic control vehicles driven by employees who had obviously finished their shift for a Friday afternoon and were heading back to the workshop in Sydney.  The passenger in the vehicle that I was immediately behind threw a plastic Coke bottle out of the window onto the side of the road.

I have to say I was quite shocked…. You just don’t see that sort of thing happening anymore because people nowadays are so much more aware of the environment and of what’s ‘cool’ and what’s not ‘cool’. And let’s face it: throwing rubbish out of the window of a car on a freeway is NOT cool at all!

I thought if that was MY vehicle with MY Company’s branding on it, I’d really like to know that it had happened, so I could remind my employees that everything they do with the company’s logo on the car reflects on the company. Of course it does. The fact that I have my own business absolutely makes me think more about these implications.

Anyway, so being a good corporate citizen (some may say ‘dobber’ but this planet is important to me) I rang the company concerned and mentioned to them that I had just seen one of their employees throw some rubbish out of the window of the car.

The lady who took my call was very pleasant, and she sounded concerned about what had happened. She said they would deal with it and asked me if I wanted anyone to call me back and confirm what had been done.

 I said “No, I know you guys will deal with it, because you know it’s bad for your branding and your business.”  Naturally, she agreed with me. After I hung up I thought: “I wonder if they really will?”

Performance management is one of the obvious areas in the workplace that has potential to lead to conflict and for this reason, many managers will avoid it.

The traffic management company will do one of three things:

 1. They might work out who it was based on the location on the freeway and the fact that two vehicles were travelling together. I didn’t get a number plate, but I figured if they can work it out, they can work it out. I’m pretty sure they’ll have a good idea of where their vehicles are most of the time.

If they do this, they might actually speak with those people and remind them that it was a slur on the Company’s brand and therefore unacceptable.

 2. The second thing that they might do is address the workforce as a whole. Sometimes, if you can’t identify who the perpetrator of bad behaviour has been, it’s useful just to refresh everyone’s memory about what you expect of them. It doesn’t need to be about giving everyone a lecture or inferring that the whole workgroup is doing it, which can get the employees who are doing the right thing offside. A general discussion at a team or toolbox meeting can often act as a reminder that the public do take note of what goes on while they’re wearing their company badging.

 3. The Company might, in fact, do nothing, because the lady that I spoke with on the phone, who was, as I said, suitably concerned and took enough details down for them to do an investigation and do something about it, might pass it on to somebody who just thinks: “Who really gives a toss (pun intended) about one employee throwing a plastic Coke bottle out of the window of our car?!”

Or, it might be just a really busy time, or maybe they have much bigger issues with employee behaviour and this is just one more thing to add to the list.

Doing nothing is a very real option – which would be completely pointless from a performance management point of view, because if they do nothing about the behaviour, they’re really saying that it’s OK for it to happen again.

Silence is acceptance in terms of bad behaviour and bad performance.

And I know that if I had my branding on my vehicles, I absolutely wouldn’t want my employees to be bringing my business name into disrepute. So doing nothing would not be an acceptable option.

If you’re faced with an example of an employee doing something that doesn’t seem like a big deal, but somebody in the public actually raises it with you: take it seriously!

Don’t take the third option. Don’t take the path of the least resistance.  Don’t just write it off as a one-off. If someone in the public has a problem with your business, you can be sure they will tell others.

 Whether you address the team as a whole and just remind them of the standards of behaviour you expect, or whether you go to the trouble of working out who it was that did it and deal with them individually – just do SOMETHING.

Don’t do nothing, because by doing nothing you’re accepting and you’re making it okay for your brand name to be rubbish in the community. (Yes, pun intended again).

 So, in conclusion, I really hope that the traffic control company did do something about the issue to their branding, whether it was having a conversation with the workforce or one particular employee, about keeping their rubbish in the truck until they get to the workshop, then put it in the bin.

 The recycling bin, preferably!

 

HR with ease helps businesses with practical performance and behaviour management strategies. Don’t put up with bad behaviour!! Contact us now for more information. www.hrwithease.com

Written by Yvonne Walker

HR with ease(R) are experts in performance management, workplace diversity and inclusion. From workforce planning, indigenous and minority participation strategies, workforce education, investigations into behaviour that is not supportive of diversity through to analytics and reporting, we help employers understand how diversity can boost their bottom line and put practical strategies in place to achieve and maintain it.

About the author

Yvonne Walker HR with ease(R) are experts in performance management, workplace diversity and inclusion. From workforce planning, indigenous and minority participation strategies, workforce education, investigations into behaviour that is not supportive of diversity through to analytics and reporting, we help employers understand how diversity can boost their bottom line and put practical strategies in place to achieve and maintain it.

One Response to “Doing Nothing About Bad Behaviour… Poor Choice for Branding”

  • Catherine Saunders:

    I totally agree. I think it is very bad for company branding if employees behave in an anti-social manner. It certainly puts me off buying from that company.

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