Home » General » Ethics At the Workplace [opinion]

Managers perform several roles in any company or organisation but the most challenging role is dealing with people, especially employees.

It becomes even more challenging when it involves dealing with someone who is competent but troublesome at the same time. Recently I had the unenviable task of firing one of our managers who was so brilliant at his work but had domestic problems that followed him to work.

The manager had a squabble with his three wives who followed him to work and caused pandemonium, damaging company property in the process.

The task would have been a lot easier had it involved one of the incompetent managers we wanted to dispose of, but to lose such a brilliant manager over such kinds of actions was regrettable.

How do you even deal with an exceptionally talented manager who is a wife basher, or a CEO who is a womaniser to the extent that you have lost count of the number of wives or girlfriends he has?

Picture a manager who is pivotal in your current project who drinks himself to death each weekend and completely forgets that he has to report to duty on Monday.

How do we handle individuals who are prone to unethical behaviours, especially if they are talented and hard to replace? My basic understanding of ethics is the knowledge of right or wrong. What is particularly significant is that today we do not have a g moral climate that lacks g values.

We are even celebrating negative role models. Morality has become hard to define, though in some cases we can make a differentiation of who is unprincipled, dishonest or corrupt.

It’s not easy to draw the line when it comes to honesty and incompetence. Dishonesty at the workplace can translate to losses in revenue.

You remember the Enron ad WorldCom scandals which cost the US Economy us$40 billion in the first year.

An ethics policy, unlike other policies needs across-the-board implementation with zero tolerance for the corrupt. For instance, dismissing floor level workers engaged in dishonesty and other workplace behavioural ethics issues and letting a manager go scot-free for the same offences, sends wrong signals and does more harm than good for the company.

The top management needs to lead from the front. Diluting the ethics policy for short-term commercial gains, such as offering bribes to secure a contract when the ethics policy clearly forbids bribes often sends the wrong signal to the workforce.

Such dilutions and compromises lead to the workforce not taking the ethics policy seriously. It is therefore time to admit that some people are more vulnerable to unethical temptations than others, and managers can play an important role in reducing these.

Our ethics tend to come from our core values. I am convinced that individual behaviour is gly influenced by incentives. Everybody has a dark side, but the antisocial aspects of our personalities are much more likely to surface in toxic environments or situations of weak moral pressure.

It is hard to change someone’s personality, but managers can do a great deal to affect the environment. Our mangers need to lead exemplary lives if they want employees to act morally.

The effect of morally weak individuals may not have denting effects as compared to a company that engages in bad ethical behaviour.

For companies it can be seen in overstating profits, cheating at expense account, deliberately misleading customers or committing the Wall Street sins of selling products that do not meet the standard level of acceptance.

You can often foresee signs that your organisation is in trouble when you start looking for simple solutions to ethical problems and get satisfied by quick fixes or two minutes ideals. You can often foresee it when you are unwilling to take an ethical stand where there is a financial cost to your decision.

You can foresee trouble coming if you take ethics as a public relations gimmick where you invite the press and want to enhance your image

Here is the thing you cannot avoid hiring dishonest people. It’s not even easy to distinguish between honest and dishonest prospective employees because people that lack integrity specialise in manipulation and deceit.

You may need to do reference checks because past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour, so capturing reliable data on candidates’ reputation is the best way of evaluating their integrity. It’s possible to hire those candidates who make a fit, or whose personal values related to ethics match the company’s ethical values.

The best approach in managing ethics in the workplace is to focus on managing people’s values and resolving the conflict between personal values and company values, rather than trying to alter individual values. I have discovered that businesses that implement formal programs to support ethical choices, such as whistle blowing, decrease counterproductive behaviours and misconduct rates, as well as increasing employee satisfaction.

Till next week, may God richly bless you.

Shelter Chieza is an Aisor in management issues.

Source : The Herald

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