Food for Thought: What Would You Do?
Posted on July 27, 2011 by TNS Consulting Team (via Scott Spayd)
Last week in my Leadership and Ethics graduate course, we had a speaker come to our class and discuss ethics. The gentleman is the head of his human resources department and presented us with ethical dilemmas he has actually faced in the workplace. One scenario in particular led to an interesting discussion:
“Your clerical associate just made you aware of an anonymous phone call that one of your employees was arrested over the weekend for armed robbery. You were made aware of this on Wednesday. The employee that this anonymous caller was referring to has called in sick (with time available) for Monday through Wednesday. It is now Thursday. The employee is at work and on time. He says “Hi” to you that morning and seems to be normal. This person is in the “public facing” position that handles cash. You know that this employee is having money problems in that he asked for as much overtime as possible and has maxed out his 401K loan options. Unfortunately, his daughter has had some significant medical issues and he is in the high deductable health plan. You feel bad because you encouraged him to go on the plan to save money. He is one of the best employee’s with long service. He also coaches your daughter’s softball team. He is also a Deacon in your church.”
I challenge you to think critically about what you would do in this situation. Given difficult ethical decision, this checklist can also be extremely beneficial. Follow the steps to ensure you are making the right decision.
- Recognize the ethical dilemma.
- Get the facts.
- Identify your options.
- Test each option: Is it legal, right, beneficial? Note: Get some counsel.
- Decide which option to follow.
- Double-check your decision.
- Take action
- Follow up and monitor decision implementation
The speaker ended his presentation by presenting the class with the real solutions that were used. In this particular example, both the manager and HR manager brought the clerical associate in to discuss the anonymous phone call. The associate assured the manager and HR manager that the message was not true. A week later another employee turned herself in for making the phone call. Apparently, the clerical associate’s daughter broke up with the other employee’s son and the woman was angry and sought revenge.
Thinking critically about situations such as this provides you a great opportunity to understand your personal values and ethic system. We all have our own reasons for making decisions based on our personal experiences. The more you understand yourself, the easier decisions will be to make.
Do you have an example of an ethical dilemma you were faced with at work? What did you do?