Six Things We Have Learned About Building Character

The key to building character in a business organization is … Character building is not a … More than anything else, character building provides a moral …

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Six things we have learned about building character Character is more than a value system. The difference between virtues and values has largely been lost in our society today. Virtues are moral absolutes standards of behavior that should be fixed and universally understood and accepted. Virtues are things like honesty, responsibility and diligence. There should be no argument or debate about virtues. Virtues are important in any society or culture. Values, on the other hand, are shared beliefs and preferences. They can be good or bad. Even street gangs have values. Some companies value confrontation, even if it hurts the feelings or self-respect of others. Some companies value winning at any cost. The key to building character in a business organization is to create a value system based on virtues. That’s what we have tried to do at EDG Inc. Since 1996, EDG has sponsored a formal character building program to help employees understand, support and encourage character building traits in themselves and their co-workers. Here are some things we’ve learned about succeeding in this critically important endeavor. Character building starts at the top Building character is not something that can be delegated. It starts at the top and must touch every person in the company equally. All employees have to accept character building as being important. It is the responsibility of every employee to learn what character is, and help develop ways to improve it. EDG was one of the first corporate customers to sign up for a program called Character First! developed by the Character Training Institute in Oklahoma City. We have participated continuously in that program for more than ten years now. There are other character building programs available to businesses and organizations, but we have stayed with Character First! because it works for us. It’s more than just staying with a program, though. The top managers of our company have committed their time, energy and resources to making Character First! ubiquitous throughout the company. They talk about it in group meetings. They write about it in communications to other employees. They participate in training sessions. And they encourage new employees to find out about it. Building character is a never ending journey with a very fragile passenger. If you become distracted, you can fall from the path quickly. In order to achieve success, managers have to make sure the focus on character building is non-stop and highly visible. Character building takes time You shouldn’t expect overnight results with a character building program. It’s not something you can pick up in a 2-day seminar. Changing behaviors is a slow process, one that requires constant reinforcement and practice. We decided to take the 49 character qualities from the Character First! program (see Figure 1) and deal with them one at a time in monthly meetings at each of our offices. It takes FOUR YEARS to work your way through the entire list. It’s not that we wait four years to reveal the whole program to employees there are introductory videos and pocket cards outlining the program’s overall scope and the Six things we have learned about building character By Paul Mogabgab, Managing Principal EDG Inc. EDG CONSULTING ENGINEERS EDG.NET Houston n New Orleans n Lafayette n Columbus n Luanda 1 2 3 49 character qualities. But by stretching it out over an extended period and treating each virtue individually, we demonstrate that ALL character qualities are important. And we emphasize the on-going nature of our commitment. Reward character building behavior The most effective way to change org

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