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It's Not Wrong - Everyone Is Doing It

April 16, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 162

My mother used to say "If your friends jumped off a cliff would you want to do that too? Well, you are not allowed to do this...." Whatever the antecedent was for "this" I would not be joining my friends in the adventure. That is how we learn. Parents tell us 'no', teach us right from wrong and demonstrate how to think for ourselves.

When we grow up and get to the workplace, things change. There are no parents to keep us in line. People we work with have had various types of discipline; some with no guidance at all about right and wrong. Free thinkers might survive but the pressure to 'get with the culture' of a company can be incredibly strong. Company cultures play a huge role in how we sculpt our professional behavior to fit into our work group. Many companies do not have written guidelines of professional behavior and even when they do those guidelines are easily lost in the shuffle of original employment on-boarding documents or simply not adhered to by management.

When work groups or individuals go out side the main stream of the company policy or individual personnel is deemed to display behavioral deficiencies: Houston, we have a problem. H.R. types and Lawyers like to use the word behavioral but narrow it down and it is about the ethical issue of right vs. wrong as "the" behavioral deficiency. But then we must look at how to correct or 'discipline'. Can we correct errant ethical business practices? Can we discipline a worker for them? Companies must be very, very careful not to wrongly accuse or embarrass an employee. Touchy area, this.

If the employee is involved in misconduct that can be proven and cannot be tolerated, management may use discipline to correct the behavior such as issuing letters of warning, letters of suspensions, or actual termination but not altering work schedules, assigning an employee to do unpleasant work, or denying vacation requests. Those who work in a close knit environment where deadlines are extreme produce in a continually frantic pace. Usually, all personnel take a role in producing the end product or service with quality checks along the way. Even with good checks and balances the pressure to beat the competition may be an incredible strain on the nerves and sometimes on good judgment.

Pace and intensity can sometimes mask what the underlying problem might be. For example, the management or ownership of the business may not have the highest professional ethics themselves and expect and require a 'me too' cooperation by their employees. You know the old saying "It starts at the top" and is the killer in the code of ethics no matter how well written it is on the website and company business cards.

Like good parents to their children, good employers must convey the seriousness of fraud or misrepresentation to their employees. In business, there is no such thing as a 'small' lie just like you can not be 'sort of' pregnant. And to allow group think to take over making it okay to fudge here and there is not good, ethical business practice.

"Corner cutters" exist because we allow them to. They might be jumping off the cliff but we do not have to hurl ourselves along with them.

Kathy Sweeney CEO Professional Ethics Alliance Integrity Today

Source: EzineArticles
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