3GCH08 10/01/2013 10:56:1 Page 291 Think about these manager behaviors. Which do you think play a direct or an indirect role in building an ethical culture? Which might build engagement but not influence ethical culture? Which do both? MANAGING THE “BASICS” A manager’s most important responsibility is to bring good people into the organization and then manage in a way that makes those good people want to stay. The new people may be permanent employees, or they may be part-time employees, temporary workers, or consultants. Effective managers need to be proficient at hiring the best people who fit the organizational culture, evaluating their performance, recognizing and praising excellence, and disciplining or even terminating poor performers. Hiring and Work Assignments HIRING CASE You’re planning to hire a new sales manager, and the most promising candidate is really homely. You are concerned about how your customers— and even his colleagues—would react to him. The specific job he’s applying for requires extensive customer contact, and his appearance is frankly disconcerting. On the other hand, his credentials are excellent, and he’s certainly qualified for the job. Federal law prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, sex, color, ethnic background, and age, and it protects those who are pregnant or disabled. In this case of a homely candidate, the solution is ambiguous. He is certainly qualified for the job, and unattractive looks are not included in protectionist handicapped legislation, so the law isn’t helpful. But the larger issues are what qualities should determine whether or not an individual should be hired, and is it ethical to consider a prospective employee’s attractiveness? All protectionist legislation points to the answer, as does the concept of fairness. Hiring, promotions, and terminations should be based on qualifications, period. However, it’s one thing to ignore someone because of your own prejudice and quite another to hesitate to put someone in a situation where he or she might suffer discrimination from an external audience, such as your customers, that’s out of your control. It’s difficult to say whether you’re doing someone a favor by setting him or her up for possible failure in an environment that’s hostile. Prejudice is difficult to overcome. As we’ve noted in earlier chapters, everyone has biases. Some people don’t like very tall people, or very short people, or fat ones, or skinny ones, or old ones, or young ones. Others have biases against brown eyes, or blue eyes, or eyes with wrinkles, or big noses, or aquiline noses, or balding heads, or hair that looks too long. Some people favor individuals from certain schools or from particular parts of the country. What if someone interviews for a job and, as in this case, he is just plain unattractive; or she’s deaf; or he had cancer three years ago; or she CHAPTER 8 ETHICAL PROBLEMS OF MANAGERS 291 3GCH08 10/01/2013 10:56:1 Page 292 speaks English with an accent? Do those qualities have anything to do with an ability to do the job or with talent? What kind of response would the Golden Rule prescribe? Kant’s categorical imperative? How about Rawls’s veil of ignorance? Some employers have a “corporate profile” in mind when they hire, especially when they’re trying to fill positions with “extensive public contact.” Some large Fortune 100 companies are well known for their penchant for hiring certain types of employees. They look for healthy young people with regular features, moderate height, a medium build, and no discernible accent. Do employers with a conscious or subconscious “corporate profile” think that the public or their customers are somehow homogeneous? If history had used a corporate profile as a yardstick, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Marian Anderson, Albert Einstein, Sammy Davis Jr., and Franklin Roosevelt may have been relegated to positions with “no public contact.” Talent and ability come in a variety of packages. When managers use anything other than those two factors to evaluate qualifications for hiring, promotions, or work assignments, they shortchange not only the individual but also their employer and their customers (who surely come in a variety of packages). They also help perpetuate stereotypes, instead of trying to build a workforce that reflects real life. One way to hire is to deeply understand your own organizational culture and to hire based on how well a candidate will “fit” into the existing culture. Both the organization and the employee are likely to be more satisfied when a good fit is achieved. For example, think about a family-oriented organization, like Starbucks, that tries to demonstrate great care for its employees. What would happen if a manager hired an edgy, highly competitive person who doesn’t care about relationships? How would that type of person fare in a “warm and fuzzy” company? It would be far smarter for a manager to look for candidates who demonstrate the same qualities that the company values, because those are the people who will succeed in the company culture. On the other hand, companies that stick too closely to a corporate profile can risk being accused of discrimination (as happened to Abercrombie & Fitch when the “look” the company was attempting to achieve seemed to exclude qualified individuals from certain minority groups). Or, they risk becoming too homogeneous and therefore resistant to needed change. So, managers must strike a delicate balance. They need to hire people who fit the current culture, but also they need to be open to people who fit, but may be different. To be successful, organizations need to nurture strong cultures that have enough differences to encourage innovation and balance and that counter the tendency to hire to a “profile.” Performance Evaluation You were recently promoted to manager of a department with five professionals and two clerical staff. One of the professionals, Joe, is a nice guy, but he simply hasn’t been able to match the performance of the others in the department. When he tells you he has been interviewing for another job in a different part of your company, you pull his personnel file and see that your predecessor had rated Joe’s performance as “good to excellent.” You frankly 292 SECTION III MANAGING ETHICS IN THE ORGANIZATION
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