Learning & Innovation – October 11, 2008
By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Screen out potential "white collar" felons
I believe that the recent cases of governments' bailout of the financial fallout in their country will not solve their problems. But it could buy them time to come up with long-term solutions while taking care of their short-term needs and, hence, will refocus the minds of their constituents, investors and others into a problem-solving mode rather than a fault-finding one. They need to be determined in their mission to rid their business sector of felons and, in the long run, develop real leaders to run their business, government, educational and spiritual institutions.
I also believe that decision-makers—government leaders and regulators, lawmakers, business board of directors, executive councils, management committees, individual executives and managers, and others—who made all those horrendous speculative decisions should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Or they will serve as role models for future felons. They should get at the perpetrators of the blatant transgressions of the values of honesty, integrity and sincerity and the erosion of the very fiber of their humanity if they want a lasting solution.
All of these government and business leaders started somewhere in the ranks or middle management level until they reached the top. Likewise, the threat to workplace security comes almost always from within and the offenders seem like "average" persons.
And that brings me back to the book Crisis Leadership Now by Laurence Barton. Barton suggests that one place we could start in preventing crisis is at the time of screening and selecting a prospective employee. He asserts that organizations need to be vigilant and committed to corporate security in all its dimensions, including physical detection of threats to the company's intellectual property, Some unethical companies are notorious for hiring rogue contractors or employees to steal valuable information on sales leads, production numbers, pending patents, cash flow or others.
From the point of view of a people manager, every new employee is a probable company president. You can never tell. Given the inspiration, the opportunity and the proper nurturing any one can successfully climb the corporate ladder. And they might have that streak of meanness in them from the very start and the "mission" (well thought out and planned) to commit crimes.
So what do we look for in a job applicant? Barton writes that after you have interviewed a candidate several times and have a sense of how well their personality will mesh with your company's culture, one of the most prudent next steps is ensuring that they are who they say they are—simple identity verification is not sufficient. He says that if you really want to gain a more complete picture of an individual, validate their true name, verify their credentials—educational background, employment history, etc.—and verify the any record that might hide a checkered financial past. It is also prudent to verify any history of "white collar" fraud and crimes such as substance abuse, domestic violence, simple assault, child abuse or neglect, DUI and others.
To further secure your workplace from internal menace, Barton advises that you check if the applicant has a genuine physical address or is living in a temporary residence. It will also help, he says, to check if he had lapses in employment. The lapse could indicate that the person was caring for an aging parent, but it could also correlate to time spent in a correctional institution. Ask your clinically trained specialist to observe for warning signs of depression, anger and hostility.
There is a need to push for high standards in the hiring process to screen out potential problem employees. Smart hiring is a preventative crisis management. As Barton writes, "worry less about credentials and look at life as a mosaic." As proven again and again, one employee or one group of employees could easily bring down their entire organization and their country.