My quarterly newsletter kicked off the topic of ethics as the theme for many of my social media postings this quarter. In the process, I’ve spent some time online, looking at what is available for those who might be interested in learning more, bringing the topic into meetings and discussions about ethical behavior on the job, potential dilemmas that create hurdles for professionals, and how to bring the potential into the present so that people make ethical decisions and behave decently at work.
It was interesting for me to learn that there are organizations that focus on ethics for doctors, lawyers, teachers, accountants, insurance representatives, volunteers, and immigration judges. There are centers in higher education whose whole focus is on the study of ethical behavior for specific groups of professionals so that the information can be shared.
You can take courses through professional schools or academies, online or in a classroom. There are books to read, blogs to review, and articles to study and discuss.
But it won’t matter much if you don’t connect the dots back on the job. I urge managers, supervisors, executives, board members, and mentors to conduct conditional coaching sessions and facilitate discussions that focus on behaviors and standards that you expect – when people are faced with ethical dilemmas, difficult choices and the unexpected.
It doesn’t require a great deal lot of training, education, or preparation to ask any of the following questions after painting a picture of the situation being faced, the potential circumstances that are lurking in the future, or a review of what has just taken place.
Try any of these:
- If this/that was to happen here, what would you do?
- If this figure increased to this number, what would you do?
- If the customer said to you what this customer said to them, what would you do and what would you say?
- If this happened here, what would be your first step?
- If your co-worker was not here to handle it – what would you do?
- If the materials you needed were not available, what action would you take?
- If you had seen this, what would you have done?
Get people talking about what they might do so that you can hear how they view the situation and what their action might be. It can allow for a good discussion and you can provide some ideas and guidance about your expectations and standards for behavior. There appears no shortage of ethical dilemmas facing us every day. Teachable moments are everywhere when you look for them.