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This is a small story from The Story of Success which portrays how ethics and values can still make ourselves content and the surroundings in harmony in the workplace.
A guy calls the salesperson for a pre-need arrangement. (That's what they call buying your funeral before you die.)He says on the phone. "How fast can I choose the plot, buy the casket, and pay for everything?" Salesperson told him we can do it immediately. He shows up in an hour. The guy is only 45 years old and looks reasonably healthy. Salesperson took him up the hill to their latest property. (That's what they call a gravesite
) I tell him what the opening and closing costs will be. (Opening and closing costs means digging the grave and then shovelling the dirt back in after the burial)
Salesperson then took him over to the casket room. He chooses the most expensive casket, measuring to see how well he will fit into it. He makes all his decisions. He then asks the salesperson for paperwork. Salesperson tells him that it will take few hours to prepare and that he will send it to him the next day."No,"he says emphatically. "I need it now."
Salesperson looks at him: "May I ask why you are in such a rush?"" Yes, you may," he answers. "When I am done here, I'm going home to commit suicide. "He looks back at him and says, "I'm a commission salesman. The deal has to be in effect for seven days in order for me to receive my commission. I've just spent hours with you and if you commit suicide today, I won't get my commission."
The guy waited because of the salesperson. I got him help. He's still alive .And I got my commission.
We do not spontaneously locate our notions of ethical practice at the workplace-in fact; we generally assume that when we have gotten that far, it's too late to redeem ourselves through virtuous acts. Yet workplace too, needs to be managed, and so this grave story speaks questions that can one indeed do well by doing good, a claim that ethicists and socially responsible business people keep making and that this salesperson seems to have proven? . (Page 1, The Story of Success Five steps to mastering Ethics in business.)
TRANSFORMING INDIVIDUAL ETHICS IN THE ORGANIZATION:
"Is it bad apples or bad barrels?" Observers sometimes ask this question when trying to account for organizational misbehaviour or "rottenness. "Do works groups engage in immoral behaviour because unethical individuals spoil those around them or do unethical organizations corrupt their employees? The truth is both individual and contextual factors contribute to ethical failure. We could begin by examining the organizational barrels, but i believe we should start off with the apples. Because the individuals are the one who build the organization.
So ethics is concerned with how we should live our lives. It focuses on questions about what is right or wrong, fair or unfair, caring or uncaring, good or bad, responsible or irresponsible. For example if I think I am a caring person, I would be surprised when i bang out at my family or roommates as assignments begin to pile up. Under this stressful situation the anger hiding in the shadow side of my personality might suddenly emerge. The same dynamic occurs in the organization when the supervisors cope with their own fear of failure by making unreasonable demands on the employees or when co-workers respond to their insecurities by demeaning members of other team.
There is no blue print for controlling the shadow side of the personality, however we can pursue it by personal ethical development strategy by asking ourselves two simple questions: First "Who am I?" and secondly "Where am I Headed?". That clearly helps an individual to take a judgement in the degree of rightness and wrongness in his or her code of conduct. However answering the above questions I found what ethics mean to me. (Page 10, BUSINESS ETHICS a global and managerial perspective).
WHAT IS ETHICS TO ME?
In different books there may be much excellent definition of Ethics but to me Ethics means the values that I have imbibed from the environment that I have grown. Starting from my childhood to my adolescent what my grandparents and my parents taught me to grow with concrete values of honesty, transparency and Integrity. Today with all these values I can take truthful decision's, not only for the benefits for myself but for others too so that I can make my surroundings a better world. However I cannot ignore the various other factors that outline ethics.
FACTORS THAT BUILD ETHICS:
Personal moral values are "desirable goals" varying in importance that serve as guiding principles in people lives. "Values" drive a good deal of our decision making and behaviour on the job, including how hard we work, how we treat co-workers and subordinates. Characters also play a major role in ethical decisions. The chance of making wise decisions will be higher if we demonstrate a positive moral traits or qualities referred as virtues. Those with high character will immediately react in ways that benefit themselves, others and the greater good. They will quickly turn down bribe that happens in many corrupted organizations and they reach out to help others. As per Robert Solomon the following virtues are required in ethical business world. (Page 9, a case study Approach Business ethics by Stephen K.Henn, John Wiley & Sons)
It might be difficult to imbibe all the virtues all at once. But few can make a difference in the workplace. Hence need to be practiced because they are the critical aspect for an organization.
WHY ARE ETHICS CRITICAL?
"As you sow, so shall you reap. ". The intensity of ethics is so high that to survive and to make the organization sustainable. Ethics need to be incorporated and practiced in every workplace. Because Business ethics is not about simply "doing good "it's more about the structural health of the organization and the ability of the organization to outperform its competition. Organization that integrates ethics into the fibre of the organization will gain competitive advantage .These organizations will be able to reduce the cost of doing business, not just in terms of reduced risk of lawsuits, fines or other costs of malfeasance, but by reducing natural impediments that arise from a dysfunctional environment .Further, ethical organizations attract commerce and, arguably attract it at a premium level because we deal with someone trustworthy rather than a crook.
It helps to improve financial performance, Enhance brand image and reputation, increase sales and customer loyalty, increase productivity and quality, increase ability to attract and retain employees, reduce regulatory oversight, and access to capital. All the above benefits are well demonstrated by the organization I had worked for.
My Experience with Infosys:
As an IT organization Infosys holds a strong work ethics and values in its workplace. The tag line itself reveals its intensity "Powered by Intellect Driven by Values". I could relate myself with the organization as the values are much similar to what I have in me. Mr Narayan Murthy the co-founder of Infosys is a person of values and hence these values and ethics reflect in every Infocision.
Infosys have core values in the form of C-LIFE.
Most of the time we need to meet the deadlines and at the same time provide quality work. For which we have two paths one by copying anybody's data which is the easiest and the second one take a fair path of doing the job on our own. I was also in that situation once where I was desirable to take the easiest path and get appreciation from the manager and cheat the company. There was a conflict within myself and the organization policy. But the ethics that I have imbibed from the organization helped me to take a right decision. Therefore at the end of the day I tried to complete my job all by myself which finally lead me to self-content and hence maintain the integrity and transparency of the organization.
The ethical issues can be classified into five general categories of ethical problems:
BRIBERY: Bribe creates a private interest that is likely to be in conflict with the organization's interest. For example a gift may be given as a common courtesy for an occasion, or it may be meant to influence business decisions at some future point in time. If the gift actually influences behaviour, whether or not the influence was intended, the gift functions as a bribe. COERCION: It controls people by force or threat. Coercion may involve the threat of blocking a promotion, the loss of job, or excluding an individual in the industry. It may be forcing a person to act in a manner that is against the person's personal beliefs. It may also be used against firms for example, forcing a retailer to handle specific products in order to obtain other desired products.
DECEPTION: Dishonest behaviour is one of the most common ethical indiscretions. Deception includes distorting or falsifying research or accounting data, creating misleading advertising, and misrepresenting a product. It also involves fake expense reports, fudged performance appraisals, and miss- interpreted financial positions. Insider trading is also one of the ethical issues, when one uses privileged information as one's own. UNFAIR DISCRIMNATION: Unfair discrimination occurs when one individual or class is favoured over another on the basis of no relevant criteria. (Page 31, ETHICS IN THE WORKPLACE, CRAIGE JOHNSON)
To overcome the issues at workplace human relations play a major role and take steps to work on policies and principles to have an ethical and healthy work environment.
BUILDING AN ETHICAL WORKPLACE:
We need to be proactive and look out for ways to prevent ethical issues and create ethical work organizations. Ethicists are particularly interested in how cultural elements, both formal and informal, promote or discourage moral action.
Structure influences moral behaviour through the creation of authority relationships and allocation of decision making rights. Code of ethics is among the most common ethics tools. All major corporations have them and help to overcome the ethical issues like conflict of interest, mismanagement of records, funds and assets as well as information. It plays a major role in fostering an ethical environment. Develop a formal set of ethical guidelines and standards. The impact is when senior executives make them a priority and follow their provisions while, at the same time, rewarding followers who do the same.
Reward and Performance evaluation system: Reward moral behaviour that might otherwise go unappreciated. Evaluate current and proposed reward and performance systems to insure that they are not reinforcing undesirable behaviour. Core Values: There is no universal set of correct set of organizational core values. Instead, the key is to determine what members find intrinsically valuables in the work group regardless of what outsiders think. And incorporating these values helps to generate a positive work environment leading to effective decisions making and better treatment of the employees. Hence it's strongly recommended to have a comprehensive ethics program for all employees in order to protect both their assets and reputation. (Page 234, ETHICS IN THE WORKPLACE, CRAIGE JOHNSON)
At last but not the least good ethics implies good business. Ethics and values are the backbone of the organization. Each and every individual plays a major role for the success of the organization. Hence the values that the organization has is the summation of all the values of the employees .And the code of conduct to be followed is the responsibility of every individual which will help the organization to climb the ladders of success continuously.