In the wake of controversy and the rush to remove a government official from appointed office, there are some lessons here that all of us can learn.

Lesson One: Build and Maintain a Workplace Culture That Fosters Respect.

Just as national figures mistakenly react, people in the workplace also are capable of making the same quick-to-judge mistakes, even if not nationally splattered across the media.

It’s not always easy for an employee to accept apologies, after the tenders of trust have been burned. Often times, it’s necessary for employers to do a major “about face” to attain (or regain) respect in the workplace. This takes time, calls for an honest top-down effort, and requires organizations to view turnaround costs as an investment in people. It will pay off, even though quantifying those returns can be difficult.

Lesson Two: Fact-finding is A Valuable Use of Time.

Fact-finding does not have to take years, months, or even weeks to complete but it does have to be productive and unbiased. Without this step, employers can mistakenly push valuable and talented performers to move on.

Case in point: The employee is not even sure she would return to her job, if asked. Do you blame her? This is a good example of how one’s failure to gather sufficient and relevant facts may so seriously have damaged the trust-bond between the employer and employee that the reputational damage caused by this nationally advertised faux pas (when coupled with its potential to resonate for years — e.g., see what was “dug up” to heighten the scandal of this event) might make it impossible for the employee to overcome the obvious risks of returning to that workplace.

Lesson Three: Decisions Must Be Based on Rational, Factual Information.

People today are too quick to react to politically sensitive issues, no matter what the topic! If our skins have grown so thin that we can’t even take the time to exercise rational thinking, our economy and or nation are doomed to sink deeper into the depths of worldwide mediocrity, or worse!

Course Summary: Practice the Golden Rule!

Do people even know today what that means?

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Avatar photo Bill Brantley

The biggest question to me is why didn’t the officials involved in forcing Sherrod to resign take the time to view the unedited tape rather than rely on the reports of a third party (and a third party with a political agenda)? Was Ms. Sherrod even given a chance to explain her actions?

Great example of how long it takes to build trust in the workplace versus the speed by which trust can be destroyed. As we bring about Gov 2.0, employees need to know that they will have the trusting environment so they can feel free to experiment and innovate. The Sherrod case demonstrates we are still a long way from Gov 2.0.

Rachel Correll

Good steps to use. I couldn’t believe how quick they called for her resignation and then a few days later announce that they made a mistake. Seems like the right processes were not followed. The blogger doesn’t even feel regret for posting this in the first place. Why would he? He’s getting free publicity.

Walter E. Flanagan

As an old retired HR Manager with experience terminating many employees, I would have placed her on administrative leave pending getting all the facts. Once the facts were in, we would have presented the employee with the facts to get their side of the story. Then and only then, would we have made a decision as to what future action should be taken.