Culture, HR Insights

Doing the Right Thing Is Always the Right Thing

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Even though she didn’t put in the $20, the crew at Keller Williams decided to kick in a bit of their winnings — they won’t say how much.

“As a team, we put together a fat pile of money,” Finkelstein Reader said. “If we do the right thing and always care about other people, the right thing will happen to us.”

Those were the remarks from a realtor at Keller Williams concerning their good fortune of winning 2nd place in the recent lottery – which just so happened to be a cool $1 million. By now we have all heard about the winner of the top prize, but 2nd place provided for me a more compelling story about human nature.

“Creating workplaces everyone wants to be part of”

A new hire had just joined the company as the team members were putting together a pool to purchase lottery tickets. She did not have the money to pay hr share since she had not gotten paid yet and just did not have any extra cash. She politely declined to join in the pool.

When she returned to work the day after the drawing, she saw the celebration going on in the office and was told that yes, they came in second place [all five numbers but not the Powerball] and their prize was $1 million.

As I read this my heart went out to her because the story has just said that she did not participate because of lack of funds.

But this is where the organizational/team dynamic comes in: Her team members decided to include her in the winnings even though she did not participate. Yes, she would be getting a share that would be chipped in on by all.

When I did a little research on Keller, I came across an announcement that said Keller/Williams was named to “One of America’s Top Workplaces by Workplace Dynamic, ranking No. 9.” But what really caught my eye was the quote by the CEO Mark Willis who said, “Our associates are creating workplaces that everyone wants to be part of and no one ever wants to leave.”

Wow, talking about alignment. Take that employee engagement!

When you do the right thing, word gets around

This type of small gesture always gives me hope for mankind because, “Doing the right thing is always the right thing.”

I have always been a big believer that when you do the right thing, word will get around. Whether it is recognition, acknowledgment, promotions or even layoffs. you always send a message.

While this decision on the Powerball jackpot was not a corporate initiative, it does say a lot about a company that would foster this type of team environment. They will surely reap some rewards from that story.

From the time that we get up in the morning until we close our eyes at night, we are always faced with making decisions. Some we do not give a second thought to, while on the other hand, others may require some additional thought.

The ones that take the additional thought are the ones that we sometimes labor over. We may continually ask ourselves whether we are correct, and even if we think we are, we may still second guess ourselves.

The compass that we all should follow to points to doing what is right. This will always allow for a good night’s sleep.

Making the right thing happen

How many times have you made a decision that you knew was not the right thing to do and it gnawed at you forever? You may have even wished you could come back to that intersection and do it over again. Unfortunately, that does not happen.

It should, however, provide a framework for Decision Making 101 that should guide you in the future. When you come to that fork in the road that requires you to make that decision, do yourself and everyone around you a favor and “do what is right.” It doesn’t matter whether it is a public decision like the Keller Williams team made, or a private moment where no one is watching.

That is when your character in on full display. John Wooden, the great basketball coach from UCLA, put it beautifully — “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”

Or as one of the Keller Williams team members said: “If we do the right thing and always care about other people, the right thing will happen to us.”

Think about this story and think about what you would have done.

Ron Thomas is a human resources officer currently based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He formerly was director, talent and human resources solutions at Buck Consultants (a Xerox Company) and is certified by the Human Capital Institute as a Master Human Capital Strategist (MHCS) and Strategic Workforce Planner (SWP). He's also worked in senior HR roles with Martha Stewart Living and IBM. Ron serves on the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy. He also serves as a faculty partner and executive facilitator at the Human Capital Institute. He has received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence by the World Human Resource Development Congress in Mumbai. Contact him at ronaldtthomas@gmail.com or on Twitter.