Issues in the workplace that question ethical standards cause disruption and possible division of the parties involved. People often think that ethical standards are based on whatever feels right to do at the time.
When challenged about ethical standards people can feel backed into a corner and they begin what is called “creative labeling” or making exceptions for their decision or behavior as in this example.
An employee was responsible for ordering supplies for the office and the company he orders from always has some sort of give-away if you purchase a certain amount of product. This month is a free MP-3 player or leather computer bag if you ordered was over $250.
What luck, this employee’s daughter was turning 12-years-old and wanted an MP-3 player. He placed an order of $250 and picked his prize. The supplies came, he took the MP-3 player home and his daughter was thrilled on her birthday.
When his boss was reviewing the bills at month end he happened to notice on the supply invoice that a free gift MP-3 player was sent, and asked the employee where it was. Do you see anything wrong? After all it was free and the office needed the supplies it wasn’t like the employee was stealing or was it?
The employee failed to think about the fact that it wasn’t his money that purchased the supplies and that the business owner actually owned the “prize.” There are times that people will have ethical lapses simply because they fail to realize that there are ethical considerations involved.
In George Mazzeo’s book “Sleeping Dogs…Ethics in the Workplace” he talks about three questions that you can ask yourself as an ethical test of your decision-making process.
1. Who will benefit from the decision you are making?
2. Who if anyone will suffer from the decision?
3. How would you feel if the situation were reversed?
By asking yourself these three questions and thinking them through for the answers you will steer yourself in the right direction every time.
“Always do right, this will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” ~ Mark Twain