RESOLVING ETHICAL BUSINESS CHALLENGES *
Candace always tried to do the right thing, but did not know what to do in this dilemma. She knew someone would get hurt. All because of an overzealous supervisor, she thought sadly. Two years ago Candace took a job at ABCO Corporation in its public relations division. Although new to the corporate world, Candace quickly learned the ropes of the highly bureaucratic organization and excelled at many of her projects. As a result, her bosses assigned her more lucrative responsibilities. The only downside to the job Candace could see was many people appeared to be promoted based more upon their relationships with their superiors than their merit. While Candice knew her work was excellent, she could not help but wonder whether her friendly repertoire with her immediate supervisors had anything to do with her success so far. A few months ago, Candace learned her division would be getting a new supervisor. Britney transferred to her division from a similar position in another subsidiary of the company because of her proven talent for organizing and improving the efficiency of operations there. A no-nonsense type of manager, Britney was experienced and determined to be successful in this assignment as well. Candace knew from Britney’s reputation that her success had everything to do with hard work and a commitment to make sure everyone else was working just as hard. On the day Britney assumed her responsibilities as the new division manager, the company held a reception for her to meet the employees. At the reception, Britney circulated throughout the room, introducing herself to people and asking each of them if they had any suggestions that would make the section a better place to work. When she approached Candace, Candace decided to let her know what was bothering her. “I don’t want to make waves or anything, but one thing I’ve noticed happening recently is some people seem to gain promotions and are given opportunities to work overtime based on who likes them and not on the quality of their work,” Candace told her. She quickly continued. “It’s not that people here don’t work hard or anything. It’s just that I noticed there might some favoritism going on in some of the major personnel decisions.” Britney looked concerned, but smiled at Candace. “Thank you for telling me, Candace. I assure you I will do everything in my power to make sure this problem does not continue. This kind of thing has no place in the team I’m going to lead.” The next day, Britney requested Candace meet with her. As Candace entered Britney’s office for the meeting, Britney looked her straight in the face and said, “I will not tolerate individuals in this organization who are not team players. Yesterday afternoon you led me to believe there are people in this office who are not acting in the best interests of the company, and I want to know who. These people have no place in this division.” Candace was stunned. She did not want to hurt anyone. She just wanted to express her concerns in the hopes certain practices would change. When she did not answer right away, Britney looked at her with annoyance. “Look,” she said, “I want you to tell me the names of the managers you were referring to now, and keep me informed if you see anyone hurting this company, or I’ve got to think maybe you’re part of the problems around here.” Candace tried to explain. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t want to implicate anyone in particular. I just wanted to alert you to some concerns I’ve been having…” Britney cut Candace off before she could continue. “Candace, you seem like a smart person. I’m trying to create an example here. There are no shortcuts in this job. You work hard, or you get out. I’ve got no room for slackers. Now once again, who are the managers you were talking about?” Candace’s heart raced in her chest and she felt close to tears. Britney noticed because she sighed exasperatedly. “Fine. Here’s what I’ll do. We’ll set up another meeting tomorrow and talk then. That’ll give you time to think about where your priorities lie. Candace sat at her desk, her work forgotten. She could not believe the mess she had gotten herself into. If she told Britney what she wanted, certain managers would get disciplined or perhaps even fired. Of course, it would be her word against theirs, so Candace knew she faced the risk of being thought of as someone who was just trying to make trouble. At the very least, the managers she named would dislike her for reporting them. But if she refused Britney, she risked the ire of her new boss
QUESTIONS | EXERCISES
1. Describe the organizational structure of ABCO Corporation.
2. Which type of leadership power is Britney using? Do you feel it is effective in this situation?
3. Does Candace have any other alternatives than the two that she is considering?