Identify a company or organization that is currently experiencing a serious ethical issue. How is this ethical issue affecting the organization’s performance, morale, and public perception?
An organization that is facing serious ethical issues is a county jail where a male custody staff was found to have had sexual relations with several female inmates. The public perception is that tax payer dollars are not being spent to house inmates safely and that management turns a blind eye or even allows these types of behaviors. As far as affecting performance, custody staff that take their job seriously are more afraid to act in certain situations, afraid they may be accused of inappropriate advances. Other staff are feeling hurt and disappointed that a colleague could commit such an act of betrayal. Other staff do not really see an issue with their peer’s behavior and their beliefs about power and control are being verbalized in a way that makes fellow custody staff uncomfortable. Morale is low as those that take the care of vulnerable populations seriously are demoralized with the behavior of their colleague. Management is distracted trying to manage the bad publicity with the public as more stories of misconduct come to light. These issues are forcing out good employees and putting the company at risk, as ethical issues left unchecked will often do (Michigan State University, 2019).
As an OD consultant, what steps might you take to help improve the organization’s ethical guidelines and behaviors?
One way to improve the organization’s ethical guidelines and behaviors is to review their current guidelines as well as current policies and procedures around employee expectations to follow them. Next, using the principles of participative management to engage employees at every level of the organization would be beneficial for collaboration (Burke, 2018). Knowing how the current culture is regarding following ethical guidelines is the first step in acknowledging what needs to change. However, the consultant cannot solely rely on management’s perception, but must inquire about the employees’ perceptions and experiences. Understanding the culture in which ethical guidelines operate is key to the consultant understanding where to start. Getting clear on company values and ascertaining whether or not they are embraced by management and employees will also help the OD consultant know what they are working with. Another step would be to identify a theory in which to frame the problem. For instance, in this particular scenario where certain behaviors are driving the culture to look the other way, other strategic behaviors will need to be implemented or increased to decrease and counteract the negative ones. This would be based on the action research theory proposed by Lewin (Asumeng & Osae-Larbi, 2015). The emphasis is on collaboration and the process involves joint diagnosis of the problem and joint action planning. This way, the organization is on board the whole time and takes an active and participative role in identifying and solving the problem. Lastly, the OD professional needs to adhere strongly to their ethical guidelines as they help guide the agency. Clear boundaries, clarity around goals, collaboration, and communicating limits of competency are all key to maintaining a professional and ethical relationship (International Organization for Group Psychotherapy and Group Processes, n.d.). Providing case studies of other agencies that weathered similar ethical problems and came out successful would be beneficial for the agency to hear and to generate hope.
Asumeng, M. A., & Osae-Larbi, J. A. (2015). Organization development models: A critical review and implications for creating learning organizations. European Journal of Training and Development Studies, 2(3), 29–43. http://www.eajournals.org/wp-content/uploads/Organ…
Burke, W. W. (2018). The rise and fall of the growth of organization development: What now? Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 70(3), 186–206. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/cpb0000116
International Organization for Group Psychotherapy and Group Processes. (n.d.). Ethical guidelines and professional standards for organization development and group process consultants. https://www.iagp.com/docs/IAGPOrgEthicalguidelines…
Michigan State University. (2019). 5 common ethical issues in the workplace. https://www.michiganstateuniversityonline.com/reso…