CHICAGO—Jaclyn Jensen studies why things can go awry in the
workplace. An organizational psychologist,
Jensen’s research examines negative employee experiences, with a focus on
employee mistreatment, conflict, destructive relationships and hostile work
conditions. The company culture at Wells Fargo & Co. is under scrutiny
after it was revealed that its employees opened unauthorized bank accounts to
meet sales goals. Jensen, associate professor of management in DePaul
University’s Driehaus College of Business, provides insight on how company
culture and poor leadership may have contributed to the scandal at Wells Fargo.
Jensen is available for interviews and can be reached at 312-362-6852 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: What does the
Wells Fargo scandal reveal about employee reward systems?
from the recent Wells Fargo scandal makes the case that reward systems in
organizations can drive dysfunctional, unethical behavior. For example, when
organizations want employees to set challenging “stretch” goals, but reward
only those employees who “make the numbers” in a timely fashion, it is not
surprising that employees engage in inappropriate behavior. At Wells Fargo,
rewarding staff for cross-selling drove employees to create phony accounts,
which made it appear as though staff had met sales targets.
Q: What other
organizations have had similar issues?
Jensen: A similar
situation occurred at the Department of Veterans Affairs, when staff
manipulated patient scheduling to meet operational goals, and at Comcast when a
retention agent went to extreme lengths to keep a customer from canceling his
service, resulting in a public relations nightmare for the company.
Q: What do these incidents
reveal about leadership and an organization’s culture?
these examples shine a bright spotlight on culture and rewards, and the
critical role leaders play in setting the tone around proper conduct. Saying
that “there was no incentive to do bad things,” according to Wells Fargo CEO
John Stumpf, and that employees who created phony accounts weren’t honoring the
bank’s culture, suggests he may be out of touch with the exact culture he was
tasked to create.