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Allan Cooper

Allan Cooper Principal

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According to research from Vanderbilt University and Cornell University, low "behavioral integrity" erodes employee moral and intention to stay in a particular job. And just what is behavioral integrity? It's just a fancy way of saying the match (or lack of) between your words and your actions. If your behavior does not match what you say, your employees, at all levels, notice it and it has a strong negative impact.

We've touched on this before, and it's something that you need to be mindful of at all times. Their research of nearly 2,000 employees at over 100 work locations found, "a correlation between supervisors receiving low scores on behavioral integrity and line employees measuring low on trust, job satisfaction, contributions to the workplace, and intent to remain on the job. What’s more, low behavioral integrity tended to shape the culture of the entire workforce." Wow, that's pretty strong stuff!

Have you ever worked somewhere where your manager was always talking about the importance of courtesy and fast responses to email and phone inquiries, but when it came to your questions, s/he didn't ever seem to have time? Have you ever had a general manager who would go on and on about the importance of marketing on the Internet, but when budget time came around, all those line items were cut?

I once had a new manager come into the dealership talking about how much he valued employee feedback, but when people starting sharing their thoughts with him, he summarily dismissed their feelings as invalid or unreasonable. Worse yet, he actually became angry with an employee and said that his request was stupid. Well, you can imagine how much feedback we offered after that, and we all found out very quickly that our boss was a real jerk.

And ultimately, the vast majority of your employees are going to mirror your behavior. So if your actions aren't consistent with your words, theirs won't be either. You simply can't have trust and loyalty in this type of environment.

To sum it up, the research concluded the following:
• Actions must be consistent with words, mottos, and policies or employers will lose the support of their employees.

• Bad behavior being carried out by those at the top of the company does not stay within the boardroom, but spreads throughout the organization.

Walking the talk (high behavioral integrity) is one of the best ways to help ensure that you keep your good employees and a positive work environment. Always make sure your actions match your words. People notice it if you're guilty of this and your dealership will suffer greatly.

Do you have funny (painful at the time) stories about bosses with "low behavioral integrity?" Share them with us!

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