Ethics is the term we give to our concern for good behaviour. Its human nature to not only is concerned with our own personal well being but also that of others and of human society as a whole. It is stated that ethics is a way of being human and if men and women had not identified their own welfare with that of others, then they probably would not have survived and developed (Ethics 5).
Business ethics is very similar to normal everyday ethics in that it involves being fully aware of what we’re doing including the complications and consequences of our actions. Being aware of ethics in business requires us to be aware of two things.
First, we have to have a need with complying with rules, such as laws, customs and expectations of the community, the principles of morality and the policies of the organization and such general concerns as the needs of others and fairness. Second, we should know how the products and services of the business, the actions of its members, could affect its employees, the community and the society as a whole, either positively or negatively (Ethics 5).
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Good ethics means good business is the viewpoint of many businesses. Businesses and their managers take ethics seriously. The reason their way through ethical problems and acceptable solutions. Although there is always the reverse, where businesses give the appearance of success for long periods of time in spite of unethical practices. The news today is overloaded with stories of the fallen heroes and devastating businesses that ultimately result from deception and unethical solutions to the business’s problems (5).
Many managers say that they run into ethical dilemmas because they are involved in relationships with people being employees, peers, and bosses with whom they have to work with and on whom they are dependent. The problem is complicated because these people have needs that are contrary to a business’s goals and competing needs. The manager is forced to either chose between the business or the person, being a peer or employee, and an unethical choice will affect the relationship of the other for years to come (Ethics 6).
Businesses themselves have several responsibilities many of them being ethical. First, they have the priority of making jobs (106). Once they create a job, it’s their responsibility to see that hard work and talent are fairly rewarded. When employees feel they are being treated fairly and with respect, they return the favour back to their management by following orders and doing any task assigned to them (107). If they feel they are being treated badly, they get back at the business either ethically or unethically (Understanding 107).
Managers of a business sometimes lose their ethical perspective when making decisions that affect people (9). Perhaps they are busy, or maybe they just don’t take the time to think through the consequences of their decision (9). Also, if a senior manager were to make a decision that seemed unethical, the managers would act on the decision without weighing the ethical “overtones” (Ethics 9).
The same is also true when several managers with a common goal agree in an unethical situation (9). When unethical decisions are made, everyone loses in the long run, both the company and the person making the unethical decision (Ethics 9).
Managers continually chose between people when making decisions such as whom to hire, which employee to promote, or which employee to lay off or terminate (23). Managers, knowing all the employees, their history with the company, their skills, and other factors, cannot help being having a problem by his/her own conflicting personal interest and biases (23). When choosing between people, objectivity is the best way to make decisions such as who to hire, who to promote, or who to lay off. Some managers have a problem by trying to choose the person with the least personal pain possible.
Managers should determine the appropriate candidates based on honest consideration (24). It’s a manager’s responsibility to know about who is doing their fair share of work and who is not. Not doing so will cause low morality in the workplace because an employee not doing his/her fair share and another employee doing his/her job (World 146). Another issue of that strongly is merged with ethics is performance appraisals. Some managers do not feel comfortable doing them because they do not want to be the “judge and jury” with respect to their employee’s career (25). Some managers believe also by giving their employee’s good feedback will cause the employee’s future job tasks to do down.
On the other hand, negative feedback will demoralize and demean the employee and they give them a higher appraisal then they deserve (25). Failure to be honest with employees about their performance is a form of deceit that is damaging not only to the employee, but the business, and the manager (25). Managers that follow appropriate performance evaluation guidelines and feedback procedures create an environment where employees have an opportunity to correct their mistakes and grow within the business (Ethics 25).
Successful Performance Appraisers
- Managers who engage in mutual goal setting and open communication.
- Managers who establish clear, measurable expectations and provide a climate conducive to success.
- Managers who ask questions, listen carefully and appreciate and use the ideas of others.
- Managers who publicly recognize positive performance and privately correct improper performance when it occurs.
- Managers who follow through on their commitments
Unsuccessful Performance Appraisers
- Those who establish arbitrary unilateral performance goals or standards. They may or may not communicate them to employees.
- Those who have not thought through what they expect or don’t know how to measure success, thereby creating a threatening atmosphere to work.
- Those who never seek ideas of others or listen, yet have a solution for everyone else’s problems.
- Those who spend too much time looking for things that are wrong and too little looking for things that are right.
- Those who accept substandard performance or misrepresent it in providing feedback.
- Those who do not take their commitments seriously.
In businesses, it is fundamental that managers are responsible for maintaining discipline among the employees they supervise (29). Many managers don’t discipline their employees if the action isn’t severe, which is a mistake. It’s a mistake because if the employee had previously done something that violates the business’s code of conduct and wasn’t disciplined, that employee and others that know about this will think that they won’t get into trouble and continue doing these wrongs.
Some managers who don’t understand their roles relative to discipline, they will probably either over-or under-react (29). The word discipline means, “to teach so as to mould” (29). Unfortunately, most managers don’t learn the “teaching and moulding” aspects (Ethics 29).
Tips to Accentuate Positive Discipline
- Make sure your players know the standard of performance desired.
- Teach them how to attain standards.
- Encourage them as they progress in the direction desired.
- Compliment them when they attain standards and continue to reinforce positive performance periodically.
Many incentive systems have been distinguished for employees that do their jobs correctly and go above and beyond the tasks to get their jobs accomplished. Ethics comes into effect for several reasons when dealing with incentive programs. Managers may feel morally responsible to give an employee who previously won an award to give it to them again to not discourage them, even if the employee didn’t deserve the award (Ethics 31).
Also, managers may give awards to people they like personally more than others on a bias level. This not only hurts the business, in the long run, but other employees also start to notice this and become demoralized and either their job is affected or they quit. This is not only unethical but it disrupts the business in general.
Guidelines for Ethical Administration of Reward Systems
- Managers should lay the groundwork by insuring there is mutual understanding with each employee about what is expected in terms of performance
- Managers should update job descriptions as changes occur and insist that the salary grades of my employees remain appropriate to their positions.
- Managers should consistently monitor performance against expectations and give all employees appropriate feedback.
- Managers should be alert for both superior and inferior performance as related to goals and standards.
- Managers should note and communicate to others, employee efforts to develop and increase their potential.
- Managers should not let nonperformance factors like friendship, race, religion, family background, sex, or age influence their decisions.
- Managers should test their decisions to be sure they are based on facts and just not assumptions or impressions.
- Managers should make their decisions on objective data and push aside any unwillingness to help their employees face reality.
- Managers who observer other managers who are unethical in distributing awards, should resist the same impulse and do something about it explaining that in the long run it actually hurts the business.
- Managers should strive to maintain equity between employees and be prepared to justify with facts their decisions to anyone.
Not only are managers responsible for giving orders to their employees, but they are responsible for taking orders from their bosses. Some orders may not only affect employees, customers, and general public negatively but might also be unethical (35).
A manger that passes an unethical order on to their employees may not have considered the ethics on his/her own. Some managers who value ethics may have a hard time giving out the order but there are some managers that will either ignore the order or challenge it because they know its wrong (35).
When challenging an order, the manager challenging the order must be aware of what could happen to him and the repercussions of doing so which may end up being his/her job. When considering whether or not to challenge an order the manager may consider unethical, the manager should try to suggest a better alternative to help him become successful and not say that the order is pointless (Ethics 36).
Ten Ethical Mistakes to Avoid
- Lying or in any way misrepresenting the facts about the activities that a manager directs.
- Blaming the manager’s boss for the manager’s personal mistakes or those of his employees.
- Divulging personal or confidential information to peers, senior managers, employees, customers, competitors, or the general public.
- Permitting, or failing to report, violation of any federal, state or municipal laws or regulations.
- Protecting substandard performers from corrective discipline or termination.
- Condoning or failing to report the theft or misuse of company property.
- Suppressing grievances and complaints.
- Covering up on-the-job accidents and failing to report health and safety hazards.
- Ignoring or violating the boss’s commitments to employees.
- Passing on employee ideas as the manager’s own.
Ethical decisions of management are what make and break a business. Because of them, people have good working environments to work in is that they are ethical. Being ethical in management means that a business will have satisfied clientele, good employees and usually a great atmosphere to work in.
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When a business or anyone associated with the business makes an unethical decision, it usually catches up with them in the end not only hurting themselves and the business but those around them such as clientele or investors that are also involved in the business.
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