Yesterday I posted a blog about ethics. Today the other side of the slippery slope. What is the responsibility of any one person when you see a clear ethical issue? Should you report the issue? Should you engage with HR?
It’s a slippery slope at best. So here are some of the issues in the world of ethics reporting.
- If you do you are perceived not as a whistle blower, but instead as a “tattle tale.”
- If the person is your manager, you have to go over their head. So worse than a tattle tale you become a problem child.
- Who do you go to?
- What if the violation is not your boss, but their boss?
- What is a violation?
Ethics becomes a rock and a hard place. You have no where to go. What do you do? I had boss early in my Microsoft career that I should have reported. But he was making life difficult for me, before the stuff happened so how could I? My life would have gone down hill fast had I reported him. I should have taken the lumps and done it. But I was scared of the blowback and it cost me later in my career.
It shouldn’t be a rock and a hard place. It should be something the organization welcomes. It won’t, because management structures are built and pushed down. So you end up with a wasteland of what could be. Reporting things takes time, effort and becomes a he-said she-said excursive. Report, or don’t report in the end the impact is already happening. I wish now, that I had reported then what I knew. It would have been messy but in the long run would have been better for me and the company. Fear is the reason ethics are unchecked.
Which way do I go then? Well you have to decide how severe the violation is. Is it a violation of your personal ethics or of the companies? If it is the companies, you have to report it. I took a management/leadership course where the leader talked about the don’ts of management.
- Don’t believe rumors
- Don’t play favorites
- Don’t see only one side
The firs tone is hard. The second is incredibly hard, the first and second drive the third. If, you bleieve rumors and if you play favorites then you will see only one side. Leadership and management are hard jobs. You have to balance the reality against the goals you have. It’s a fine line to walk and many do it exceptionally well. You have to know is this someone violating your ethical rules or the companies. Only report issues of violating company rules. I would hope in all cases our personal ethics rise far above what the company we work for expects.