Ethics In The Workplace

QUESTION

In the company where I work we have monthly sales figures that are submitted to a board. I’ve recently discovered that my supervisor, who submits all our team’s figures, has been playing with the numbers on the report to keep in good standing with the board. I am worried that her actions will create problems for the whole sales team. I don’t know if I should say something to the board or not.

To further complicate things, I’m the person who stands to be promoted if my supervisor is fired and I don’t want to appear as though I’m trying to get ahead immorally. What do you suggest?

ANSWER

VICKI:
I envision that you feel like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. I can empathize fully with that as it is the same as being in the middle of two people and I certainly know what that’s like. In these moments I rely on two things from myself: discretion in speaking to any parties involved and honesty.

In this case one person’s actions may affect many innocent people and that is what I consider the most important aspect here. The fact of the matter is that your supervisor is not acting responsibly towards her team.

You have two choices as I see it:

1. Approach the board and just let them know that you have noticed a discrepancy in the numbers. Don’t point fingers at your supervisor. Let them know that you are concerned for your team as a whole.
2. Tell your supervisor that you have noticed a discrepancy in the numbers. Approach it as if it is an error not something that was done purposefully. Tell her your concern for the team.

I’d choose the option that feels best to you, the one in which you feel you are being true to your moral values.

JILL:
The business coach in me feels compelled to take this to the next level. Which ever approach you take, there are issues around the real figures that will have to be addressed. The board is going to want to see a valid set of sales figures and to know how they can be turned around. Or your supervisor is also going to have to address how to bring up the sales figures legitimately.

However you decide to deal with this, it is business and you need to see further than the discrepancies; you need to be a contributing part of the solution.

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