I was fortunate to work for 35 years in an organization that has a strong and unwavering culture; Exxon and ExxonMobil. In all areas of the business; safety, financial controls, procurement, operations, dealing with vendors, business partners, shareholders and customers, there was no ambiguity about what was expected of employees. There is a sense of discipline that permeates the organization. Employees understand that there is a right and a wrong way to conduct business and it is good for the financial health of the business. I have talked to many employees over the years that left to pursue other interests and without exception they missed the controls and standards the company established because it made their job easier and less risky.
So we shouldn't be surprised to learn recently that employees of the Metropolitan Airport Board have been abusing travel policies, contracting standards and hiring rules. A recent article in the Washington Post listed numerous circumstances of ethical lapses by managers and executives, some of whom resigned after an audit uncovered some pretty outrageous violations. It was just a month ago that I wrote a blog about the same audit uncovering the same types of violations among the appointed Board of Directors of the MWAA.
And this is not the first hint of problems at the MWAA. A decade ago, another audit uncovered problems in contracting practices. This is an organization that oversees a budget of two billion dollars and employs 1400 people. That's not trivial and they are stewarding the taxpayers money.
So let's connect the dots here. The appointed board members violate policies and the managers and executives see this and decide the rules don't apply to them either. You're left to wonder when the next shoe will drop as they drill down further into the organization. Will employees take their cue from their managers and rationalize it is also ok for them to violate policies? It's not a stretch to think so. That's how a culture works.
|Shanahan losing his cool|
Culture is real and it's important and it starts at the top.
Director, MSBA Program