Thursday, June 17, 2010

Managerial Ethics

 A personal anecdote on the question of Managerial Ethics

A few years back, when working as middle level manager for a team that was critical to the business of the organisation, I had an occassion when I had to swallow a bitter pill handed down by my boss. There was a question of ethics involved and I was at a fix to know, how I would decide my stand in the context of the honesty of my execution of the orders, whether I would take it at a circumstantial level or hold an absolutist point of view?

Looking back now, when the scenario has undergone some changes - both at the organisational level and also globally, the question poses new dimensions for consideration.

To give you a little more insight into the case, consider this: Management decides to give the pink slip to an employee, working satisfactorily for nearly 2 years in the capacity he is currently employed in, on the ground that he was an associate of an ex-manager, and continuing to have close, personal contact with the same and hence a potential confidentiality threat to business. This concerned person was however employed in a role that did not expose him to much business critical information, and therefore other than apparent reasons of official rivalry I could find little ethical justification for the decision.

About a couple of years thence and after the economic slowdown it now appears that for the employee and for the organisation it was a correct decision. The employee in question was a few notch less in academic qualification compared to the average requirement for the position he was working in. He was already earning pretty good compared to his qualifications, which was due to the skills he had mastered in the 2 years of employment. But further prospects of growth in the organisation were limited. In fact with the organisation growing at a fast pace, and new HR policies being put in place, upgraded technical qualifications were required for new recruits, which meant tough challenge for the less qualified older employee. Given two months paid leave, the employee stood a good chance to find a new placement, which incidentally he did. As he competed for a job that asked no more than the qualifications he already had; with his acquired skills his transition and later growth was less bumpy. It may not have been meteoric, but he happily survived any downsizing.

The case stands as has been stated. My question to you is this, does the right decision for the wrong reasons reflect wrongly on the team manager (in this case me) work values?

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