Friday, May 07, 2021
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How to Manage an Ethical Crisis

Most people experience pressures to achieve goals; and different people respond differently. Some may even resort to unethical conduct that, over time, is likely to affect both the individual and the organization adversely. As a result, you may have an ethical crisis to deal with. Because in most organizations the approach to ethics is usually crisis-driven, it is appropriate to be prepared for such an event. Here are some important considerations…

1. Adhere to established management practices.
To put a positive spin on a negative situation, an ethical crisis within your organization provides a great opportunity to demonstrate your managerial capabilities. Ensure that you:
o Act immediately. Management is all about action and implementation-getting things done. Although staff under pressure may not fully understand the implications of inappropriate and hasty actions, inaction on your part can never be excused in relation to behavior that breaches the organization’s code of ethical conduct.
o Provide support. You need to be sensitive to individuals’ needs, and to shape, direct, and focus them for the benefit of the group as a whole.
o Show leadership. Your exemplary behavior will demonstrate that to be ethical is to focus on the cultural goals of the corporation as well as the business goals.

2. Keep the crisis in context.
Ethical dilemmas are an ongoing struggle for struggle for organizations everywhere. First, in any crisis, ensure that the event constitutes a genuine ethical crisis. A perceived crisis could involve resolving a conflict, clarifying ambiguities, dealing with stress, or managing problems associated with ongoing change. Genuine ethical crises are most often associated with far more stressful ethical predicaments-too-good-to-be-missed opportunities, super ordinate goals, and other adrenaline-raising activities-or ambiguous situations such as indiscriminate use of sick leave or disregard by management for workplace safety. Dealing with the ethical dilemmas stemming from these situations is the real challenge.

3. Adopt a mechanism for dealing with crises.
Establish a group within the organization with responsibility for dealing with ethical crises. This ethics committee, representing all groups within the organization, is a much better alternative than having one person try to deal with such dilemmas. The committee structure would also allow staff to raise concerns without fear of recrimination.

4. Construct an accurate picture.
An ethics committee first needs to establish the facts that lead to a clear understanding of the situation. Some General hashtag linkage to COVID-19 Pandemic of the questions to be considered at this stage would include:
o Do we have a problem-a genuine crisis?
o What is the problem?
o What are the known facts?
o What has caused this situation to arise?
o Who are the stakeholders involved?
o What options are available to us in dealing with the problem?

5. Adopt an organizational perspective.
Identify which of the organization’s ethical principles or codes of ethical conduct have been breached. The ability to take this action illustrates the importance of ensuring that the organization’s code of ethical conduct is a practical document. Having made clear the organization’s position, the committee needs to ask the following questions:
o Is additional information required before a decision can be made about the particular behavior?
o What would happen if we did nothing?
o Are there loyalties that may be threatened?
o Are there other people who need to be involved in making a decision to act?

6. Deliberate prior to making any decision.
Decisions on ethical issues should not be made as knee-jerk reactions. You may, for example, consider applying a worst-case scenario as a tool to help the committee choose between competing options. The committee might ask whether a report of the crisis would be likely to be reported on the front page of your major daily newspaper. If so, what would the public response be?What actions, therefore, should apply? When the issue of broader community concern has been addressed, consider these questions:
o Should the problem be discussed with the affected parties before a decision is made?
o How sensitively should the situation be handled to prevent or minimize harm to stakeholders while at the same time upholding the organization’s values and arriving at a workable and acceptable situation?
o Is the committee confident that the position adopted will be valid over a long period?
o How can we ensure that such a situation will not arise again?

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