Guest Author - Dianne Walker
Ethics are the basis of everything that we do in the workplace. Our decisions, the choices that we make are all integrated within the code of ethics that we believe in. Whether we are leaders or front line workers, maintaining high ethics and moral standards in the workplace is paramount to a successful organization and career.
When interpreting the basic core principles of our ethics, two factors are clear. First, we have the power to make our own decisions. Whether or not we are influenced by others or stand firm in our own beliefs, the ultimate decisions that we make are ours alone. Second, is that we are responsible for the decisions that we make based on our ethics. Responsibility for our actions, whether we choose to accept it or not, is vitally important and must be answered to.
To begin the journey to understanding and embracing ethical decision making, it is necessary to recognize the consequences of your actions. There are many questions that you can ask yourself when determining the severity of your decision. These questions include whether or not physical or emotional harm would be endured by yourself or others as a result of your decision. It is also imperative to ask whether or not the consequences of your decision can harm your reputation or that of the company. Once you have answered these key questions, it is necessary to determine if the decision is effective.
What makes a decision effective? An effective decision is one that successfully propels you toward your established goal. If the decision impedes the process or sets the process back, it is not an effective. Deciding what to do and how to do it will be two factors that are evident in making sound ethical decisions.
Discernment and discipline are also critical factors in the decision making process. For example, omitting key details or telling small lies is not ethical. The use of knowledge and good judgment in the process must be diligently practiced. Many times, we are influenced by so many negative factors that it takes a good deal of discipline to hold true to what is right. You must have the desire to do the right thing and be of strong moral character to hold true to your convictions regardless of negative influences.
There are many pitfalls in ethical decision making which are necessary to steer clear of during the process. For example, often times whether or not an action is legal has little to do with whether or not it’s ethical. Determining that an act is absolutely necessary also does not equal a decision being ethical. Other rationalizations can also undermine decisions. A popular rationalization for example, “Everybody does it.” If half the staff is stealing from the company, that does not make it right nor ethical.
Ethical decision making is difficult at best. It can also lead to unpopularity amongst co-workers who may feel that you are traitor. Strong character should be more important than maintaining popularity. The temptation to rationalize poor decisions is easier than making the right decision based on ethics. Practicing ethical decision making in the workplace will make great strides towards making you a better person and enriching your career.