In Simon Sinek’s new book, The Infinite Game, he writes about ethical fading — the short-term focus in an organization that pressures people to do things which they normally would not do.
“Ethical fading is a condition in a culture that allows people to act in unethical ways in order to advance their own interests, often at the expense of others, while falsely believing that they have not compromised their own moral principles. Ethical fading often starts with small, seemingly innocuous transgressions, that, when left unchecked, continue to grow and compound*.”
The classic example is Wells Fargo, where over 5,000 employees were involved in opening over three and a half million fake bank accounts, but unfortunately, lapses occur daily in many organizations.
I think about Sinek’s concept in this time of COVID. With millions working from remote locations there can be a great temptation to engage in work ethic fading – letting habits of productivity and performance lag. Just as with ethical fading, you may be able to justify your slacking to yourself as self-care or what “everyone” is doing in this time of high anxiety – which may be true – but it is also the start of smaller lapses that can have larger negative impacts.
Don’t let your 8am start time fade into 9am then 10am before you turn on the computer. Try to remain vigilant in keeping up with email and communication. Stay on target to complete the projects you are able to finish. Reallocate any open times to create for the future instead of checking out early.
The times of uncertainty will settle into something new in the future. Take care now so that the virus doesn’t claim your work ethic as one of its victims.
*The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek, 2019, p. 132