Power and Ethics Case Study Essay Assignment
Have you ever heard someone say, “It’s only business?” That is true to an extent. Businesses operate to make money, regardless of their categorization. It is important to make a connection between ethics and power as well as how diversity influences the workplace. Anderson and Bolt (2016) outline seven types of workplace power: legitimate, coercive, reward, connection, charismatic, information, and expert power.
Each power has advantages and disadvantages. If the powers are abused, an organization is likely to experience positive or negative effects. Some argue that individual motives behind power can at times be questionable or political. For example, supervisors and managers typically have decision-making power.
Having such power can involve a great deal of responsibility, while also be very rewarding. Most employees have some type of power, and one way to increase your power base is by gaining a wealth of knowledge. Knowledge is a form of power, and it can never be taken away as long as you refrain from unethical behavior. Make power work not only for your advantage but also for employing it into a competitive advantage.
Consider that you coworker approaches you in the breakroom of your office one day. She says that she had an emergency with her elderly mother and needs to leave the office immediately. She then asks you if you can help her out by covering for her whereabouts while she is away. You hesitate, but she is persistent. What do you do? You know this violates policy, but you also do not want to create tension with your colleague, and she does seem desperate. You tell her that since this is an emergency, you will cover for her this one time. She thanks you and leaves.
A few weeks pass, and you forget about the incident until your coworker approaches you for the second time asking for you to cover for her once again. This time, she needs to pick up her child at daycare. How do you handle this situation? Do you tell your coworker that this is against the rule of your office, and she needs to talk to a supervisor, or do you continue to help her because she is your coworker and friend?
Over the course of your employment, it is possible for you to face a decision like the one described above. Ethics has many meanings and there can be debate among some. However, simply defined, ethics is a “moral standard of right and wrong” (Anderson & Bolt, 2016, p. 62). Our behavior is a reflection of not only our values, beliefs, and morals, but also our integrity. Anderson and Bolt (2016) outline three questions to ask ourselves when making ethical decisions. If the answer is no, then the situation is not ethical: 1.
The first level asks if the action is legal. This is the most straightforward question out of the three. If the action is illegal, such as stealing or harassing a colleague, it is also considered unethical. 2. The second level asks if the action is fair to all parties involved. Consider a supervisor who selects his or her friends for the best opportunities and promotions. In this case, individuals are not rewarded for performance, but for popularity.
Would you consider this fair? Most would likely say no. 3. Next, the third level addresses an overall feeling of positivity (Anderson & Bolt, 2016). This question can be the hardest to answer. Would another person understand your actions, or would they question them? If so, they may not be ethical. For example, if one of your colleagues was always late to work and asked another to cover for him or her, would that be ethical? Below is a decision tree for making ethical choices. If you receive a no to any question, stop and reconsider your actions. If you can answer yes to all three questions, your decision is ethical.
Code of Ethics
One avenue to serve as an ethical guard in organizations is to have a code of ethics and understand its importance. This code should be a standard implementation within a professional environment, as it guides all the workers employed at the business. Having a code of ethics is not enough for a business. The business and its leaders must be willing to support it, embrace it, model its contents, and enforce it. Another way to ensure that the entire company is aware of the code of ethics is by offering training sessions for all levels of employees. All organizations need some type of code of ethics to ensure that workers are mindful of the importance of professionalism. A code of ethics not only guides employees and executives but also helps the company establish trust with the public.
“Accountability involves taking personal responsibility for ensuring your work reflects positively on both you and your company” (Anderson & Bolt, 2016, p. 80). This type of personal responsibility could include daily routines, communication, practices, and projects that are all conclusive to interpersonal relationships. Whether personal or professional, we all are accountable for our behavior and actions.
The world is full of corruptness that displays activities of literal noncompliance. In other words, the world contains people who do not hold themselves accountable and who have also somehow escaped being held accountable by others. Imagine having someone like this on your team at work. Usually, the entire team is dedicated to meeting the goals of the team as well as the goals of the entire organization.
However, teams will sometimes have one worker who does not fulfill his or her share of responsibilities. The key is to avoid this type of behavior, as it does not embrace the idea of professionalism. The key concepts from Chapter 6 are empowerment, responsibility, and accountability, and each one begins with making the right personal choices (Anderson & Bolt, 2016). Failure to make the right personal choices can negatively impact your organizations along with the working relationships within them. Take into consideration the grave importance of personal accountability.
Think about the internal power of a habitually positive mindset. This type of environment is a beginning step to not only increasing your mental power but also increasing the company’s overall efficiency while decreasing waste. This is accountability and empowerment. Keep in mind, your attitude reflects who you are, and it is your daily choice to, always, be accountable in your work, your words, your dress, and your demeanor.
One final note on workplace relationships in general: it is not a challenge, but a normal practice, to never have and never be a part of any type of an inappropriate relationship with superiors, management, executives, colleagues, vendors, contractors, and finally, customers. Non-compliance with this practice can affect your work-related relationships, your job, and have long-term effects on your career. As a professional, you should continuously be mindful of the key topics from this unit, including empowerment, responsibility, and accountability (Anderson & Bolt, 2016).
We each make a choice about our ethical practices and responsibilities. By thinking critically about ethical situations, you can be sure to make the proper decisions when you need to. Making the best decisions in ethical situations is one of the best ways to positively support your professional career.
Ethics plays a major role in the workplace, and it is likely that you will face an ethical dilemma at some point. When considering your response to the issue, refer to the tips and questions from this unit. Additionally, many organizations have an ethics policy that establishes the expected conduct of their employees from accountability to responsibility. As you go through this unit’s assignment, you will gain the knowledge and reasons ethical behavior is so important in the workplace and how it contributes to a positive work environment.