COMING UP FAST: Building to Last - Whistleblowing

Article excerpt

DILEMMA: My friend has just had a nasty scare. Yet thanks to a brave whistleblower, she found out that her finance director was ripping her off before it killed the business. It made me wonder if someone would blow the whistle here. We certainly don't have any formal processes to help them. Should we set them up, and how would we do so?

ISSUES: This is a tough one. Not least because most leaders think they know what's going on. The suggestion that you might not is scary. At the same time, you don't want to encourage petty whingers or the pursuit of personal vendettas. And in a close-knit small team the challenge can be greater.

Before you reach for your Erin Brockovich video, think about what you would want people to blow the whistle about. Breaking the law, fiddling the books, risking health and safety or the environment are all obvious, damaging the business's reputation or unacceptable behaviour less so.

What kind of example do you set? The culture comes from the top and it's easier to deal with one bad apple if the company has a general atmosphere of high integrity, rigour and openness. Even with the right culture, a whistleblower may duck out, especially if his or her boss or a close colleague is implicated. …