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What's Happening
The newsletter for switched on people
Issue 78 | Spring 2007

Ethics and Integrity at work

Recent public cases such as the Australian Wheat Board have put ethics back on the management agenda. Ethics and integrity often raise more questions than answers but people make decisions about ethical and unethical behaviour based on their own perspectives or interpretation of the facts. Its how these facts fit into the context (below) which can determine the integrity of an organisation and if you choose to deal with them (client) or work with them (employee).

Issue intensity
This involves the level of harm, probability of harm or consequences, and the consensus of these among all stakeholders. For example taking a post it-note from workplace may be acceptable in one organisation but not in another.

Organisational Culture
According to Robbins et al (2007) organisations which rate higher on ethics tend to be high on risk tolerance, control and conflict tolerance. When dealing with people who will not work with conflict be careful as it is this conflict which helps identify integrity and ethical behaviours.

Structural variables
Greater ambiguity about rules and regulations can foster unethical behaviour. In this case people can be attacked for unethical behaviour because the rules of engagement are unclear.

Individual characteristics
Beliefs play a key part as does locus of control, that is the extent to which people feel they control their own fate. Sometimes if people don't feel like they have control they exert it in a negative way, to the detriment of others and the organisation's bottom line.

The factors above are a guide and the weightings of each in combination can be telling for integrity. The idea here is to check for congruence with your integrity and mitigate any potential harm to you and your organisation. A good idea is to look for past repeated patterns of unethical behaviour with the idea being
if it has happened to someone else it can
happen with you.
Given unethical organisations tent to refuse to deal with conflict or communicated effectively don't just turn and walk away, RUN, your reputation is not worth it.

Personally speaking

Over the past 11 years in business it seems I have been lucky (given what I hear) that I entered into only two business relationships with unethical people.
I think on both occasions patterns of unethical behaviour and poor integrity had had been the norm before I came along but I didn't look hard enough.

So, if this edition does anything for you I hope it helps you look for patterns of behaviour which demonstrate integrity and ethics or indeed helps you avoid those which do not meet yours.

If you are looking to explore integrity further check out our new profesional development TV show, click here, where I interview General Manager Lisa Watts from MyCareer.com.au. She discusses how to develop sales cultures with integrity and ethics.





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