Organizations struggle to develop a simple set of guidelines that makes it easier for employees, regardless of position or level, to be confident of their decisions to meet competing standards of organizations for effective and ethical decision making.
The traditional decision making model taught in most business ethics programs is often beyond the reading comprehension of 25% of the employees’ population. Hence, an alternative model is necessary.
Employees are called upon to make decisions in the normal course of their job. Organizations cannot function effectively if employees are not empowered to make decisions consistent with their positions and responsibilities.
Further, the decision maker has to be confident in the soundness of his decisions. Every decision should be tested against the organization’s policies and values, applicable laws and regulations, as well as the individual employee’s definition of what is right, fair, good, and acceptable.
With these realities, an alternative decision-making model is imperative to address current realities.
The Rise of the Ethical Decision Making Model
To become an Ethical Organization, having a decision making model grounded on foundational ethical decision making is paramount. An Ethical Decision Making Model ensures that the ethical issues inherent in a routine business situation could effectively be surfaced while making it easy for people in the organization to understand and use. To make it more effective, PLUS filters must be embedded within the process.
The ethical component of the decision making takes the form of a set of filters. At key steps in the process, considerations are run through the filters and separate the ethical conations from the remainder of the decision.
The PLUS Filters: What Really Are They?
PLUS Filters are ethics filters that have adapted to mnemonic word PLUS. PLUS is the mnemonic of Policies, Legal, Universal, and Self. The integration of PLUS Filters in the decision making process is best achieved when there are effective communication and formal mechanism in place.
The PLUS Filters are applied in each of the steps in the decision making process.
P = Policies
- Is it consistent with my organization’s policies, procedures, and guidelines?
L = Legal
- Is it acceptable under the applicable laws and regulations?
U = Universal
- Does it conform to the universal principles/values my organization has adopted?
S = Self
- Does it satisfy my personal definition of right, good, and fair?
The PLUS Filters and Its Application
Integration of PLUS Filters in decision making is best achieved with effective communication and formal mechanism in place.
Let us look at the first step: Defining the Problem.
In defining the problem, we aim to define the difference between the expected and/or desired outcomes and actual outcomes. With the PLUS application, PLUS surfaced the ethical issues and ask the question, “Does the existing situation violate any of the PLUS considerations?”
When the PLUS Filters are applied, this determines if the ethical components of the decision are being surfaced or satisfied.
The use of PLUS Filters in the decision making process can be your barometer in determining if decisions made are within accepted ethical boundaries agreed upon by your company and the environment that the company revolves in.
Interested in gaining more understanding of creating an Ethical Organization through the PLUS Decision Making Model? You can learn more and download an editable PowerPoint about Ethical Organization: PLUS Decision Making Model here on the Flevy documents marketplace.
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Most companies have ethics and compliance policies that get reviewed and signed annually by all employees. A company policy states that “Employees are charged with conducting their business affairs in accordance with the highest ethical standards.” “Morals, as well as legal obligations, will be fulfilled in a manner which will reflect pride on the Company’s name.” These all come from a company’s policy. Yet, to sustain a truly ethical organization, it takes more than a compliance policy or Values Statement.
“Corporate ethical failures have become painfully common, and they are not cheap.”
Billions of dollars have been paid in fines by companies charged with ethical breaches. Despite good intentions, organizations set themselves up for ethical catastrophes. In this age of corporate mistrust, creating an ethical workplace takes more than compliance programs.
Unraveling the Ethical Organization Paradox
According to the National Business Ethics Survey, leaders make concerted efforts to pay holistic attention to their organization’s systems. Yet, despite progress, a number has failed.
- 41% of workers reported seeing ethical misconduct in the previous 12 months
- 10% felt organizational pressure to compromise ethical standards
- $185 M in fines imposed on Wells Fargo as 5300 employees opened up more than a million fraudulent account.
Despite good intentions, organizations set themselves up for ethical catastrophes. The paradox is, without realizing it, organizations tend to create an environment in which people feel forced to make choices they could never have imagined.
Preventing ethical catastrophes can be done. Organizations just need to create that environment where people are encouraged to make ethical choices. There are 5 critical ways organizations can boost ethical decision making.
Boosting Ethical Decision Making in 5 Effective Ways
Boosting ethical decision making is important. This can be achieved when done using the most effective ways.
- Foster a Speak Up Culture. This is best applied when the courage needed to raise ethical concerns are inhibited. The corporate culture will dictate how people within the organization behave.
- Create Realistic Performance Targets. The second way of boosting ethical decision focus on ensuring that people do not make compromising choices to reach targets.
- Ensure Goals Are Fair and Non-conflicting. The culture of fairness in the organization is the main focus here. This is best applied when there are conflicting goals in pursuit of growth.
- Infuse Ethics into Regular Activities. This approach is the most challenging but life-changing. Often, leaders talk about business ethics only when there is a scandal or as part of the organization’s compliance program. Infusing ethics into regular activities ensure that ethics becomes an everyday part of the organization and its DNA. It becomes embedded in the way people relate with each other, work with each other, and even in the application of its processes and systems. Here, ethics become your organization’s everyday life.
- Set a Positive Example. Leaders play a vital role in setting higher standards when it comes to ethics. Essentially, they must be able to put themselves in the shoes of those they lead to see what unintended meaning they are sending. This can be seen in how they react to stressful situations or event confront poor performance. Leaders need to become extra vigilant as others may interpret their actions or behavior otherwise.
Organizations don’t want to find themselves in a front-page scandal. Hence, they must scrutinize their actions to far greater degrees than they may have realized. The 5 Ways of Boosting Ethical Decision Making can just be the organization’s steppingstone towards transforming into an Ethical Organization and sustaining it.
Interested in gaining more understanding of how Ethical Organizations improve Ethical Decision Making? You can learn more and download an editable PowerPoint about Ethical Organization: Improving Ethical Decision Making here on the Flevy documents marketplace.
Are you a management consultant?