“Top managers [at Kobe Steel] escaped direct blame for the scandal: The report said there was no evidence that they were aware of the data falsification, though it criticized executives for setting unreasonable production targets and then failing to scrutinize how subordinates met them, or at least appeared to meet them.”
A few decades ago, it was more common to hear managers say things like “I don’t want to know how you meet the targets, just meet them.”
Today, most managers have learned not to say such things. In fact, often now they will finish their sentences and say “Let’s make sure we meet those targets the right way.”
It’s better but, as it turns out, it’s not enough. For many employees, these words must be backed up by actions to be credible. Managers must do one more thing: ask employees how, specifically, they will meet the targets (or have met them).
Managers must demonstrate that how we do things matters just as much as what we do.
It’s the only way to create an ethical culture.