The Ideal Employee

By Adam Turteltaub

Let me describe a type of employee for you. This person is:

  • Able to stick to their principles even under extreme pressure
  • Comfortable with a certain degree of non-conformity
  • Someone who values justice over loyalty
  • Willing to make personal sacrifices for a greater good
  • Aware of the consequences of his or her actions

Sounds like a pretty good employee, right? It’s a description of a kind of soul who would do the right thing even when it is difficult.

These attributes were cited in a recent article in The Washington Post about whistleblowers.  Contrary to what some believe, whistleblowers are not greedy, traitorous rats, or out for themselves.  In fact, the research indicates that they are pretty much the opposite of someone who is out for him or herself.  They are focused on the greater good, no matter what the potential personal cost.

It’s good that they’re not out for themselves.  As I’ve noted on this blog, the numbers aren’t very good for potential whistleblowers.  In fact, they’re horrible.

And that’s fundamentally not fair either to them or the idea of identifying wrongdoing.

Sadly, though, that’s not going to change.  There seems to be a deep reservoir of distrust with humans of people who go against the group, stand up for their beliefs, defend what’s right and won’t be swayed.  That’s why we in compliance have to continue to do what we have:  encourage them to come forward internally, make sure that they are listened to and protect them from retaliation.  And sometimes, we need to remind the rest of the world, that there is a greater virtue in coming forward with an issue than remaining silent.

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  1. Good Afternoon Adam – very nice post today. you are correct – for some it is very hard to stand up against wrongdoing, especially when folks are afraid of retaliation. But when they are doing it for the greater good, centered in their purpose and mission, it is the correct thing to do.

  2. Adam a great reminder to those of who work in compliance to support those who are willing to raise concerns. I wonder if the label “Whistleblower” is unhelpful and makes others think they are calling attention to themselves rather than to the issue?

  3. Thanks John and Jeanette for your comments. Good points. It’s a tough road to follow, and while I think that maybe a term other than “whistleblower” may help, we’ll still be running against a basic human instinct not to go against the group.

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