Business, Review Your Ethics

Business, Review Your Ethics

Oct 23, 2021

Michael Lodge, NCPM - A long time ago in a faraway land. Always a good way to start a story. However, this story is more about when I was very young and starting out in the corporate world and my first experience with ethics. I had moved from California to Phoenix Arizona where I started working for CCH Computax what was a large tax processing center before every tax accountant had a computer in their office. Accountants would fill out forms and send them into our office and we would process them. This was at the time when computers took up a whole room and the printers took up two. All the forms were keypunched onto cards and loaded into a machine that read them into the computer. Most of the times the process worked. Then we went to tape where the tax returns were loaded onto and processed into the computer and sent via phone line from Arizona to California. Then flown back again and distributed to the accountants using our system. It was a process for sure.

At that time, I was in charge of the computer facility and the quality control process of the tax returns and testing of the tax software in the off tax season. However, my boss at that time decided to leave and take another position at a regional center. The corporate office brought in an individual from Chicago to run our office in Phoenix. At the very beginning there was a problem with this individual, his mind was purely on sex, he brought in his girlfriend and stopped showing up in the office. When we had to have checks signed, we had to go to his house where he would sign them at pool side. He was far from the corporate office, and no one could see what he was doing. I then learned that he had a drinking problem and was showing up to work drunk. The office cash was short and being used by the boss for personal stuff. We had a problem because the office was in limbo and the clients that used our service could not talk with the manager on issues. We as staff did the best, we could but it could not go on.

I had to make a decision on what and how to handle it. At that time, we did not have email, we had just gotten a fax machine. The decision that I made was to spend my own money, buy a plane ticket, and fly to California to meet with senior management. I was scared to go over a boss’s head, I had never had to do it before, but the boss was not being a boss, he was cheating the system. I knew the senior manager and he did not know I was coming. I landed and went to his office; I was in luck because he was in. He was surprised to see me there, he invited me into his office. I told him the story of what was going on. He then called in another Vice President who I retold the story. Was I scared? Scared as hell. They thanked me for coming to California and telling them in person and the meeting ended. I went back to the airport and headed back to Phoenix. By the time I got back to Phoenix manager was fired.

The Vice President of the company called me and asked me to participate in the hiring of the next manager. We scheduled interviews and started the process. From that experience I found that ethics was very important in running a business and to establish respect with colleagues and senior management. Even as a consultant to many companies the senior management would always call me to interview people they were hiring for key roles.

The very question of ethics should be asked to every applicant that is hired. Every company should have an ethics program that describes what is expected of them as employee and from their clients. The role of every employee and manager is to ask questions on ethics. Unethical behavior or decision that are made, will create conflict within the company. People will slow down not knowing who to talk to or respond to. Conflict costs companies billions of dollars every year, productivity goes away.

Conflicts can be resolved if senior management will bring in a mediator to review the issues that are going on within management or teams of employees. Sometimes there is a process that is under debate, and it is costing the company time and money when a mediator can be brought in to resolve the issue. Conflict should be resolved quickly, do not let it linger on creating more conflict.

Ethics and the understanding of ethics in businesses allows the employee and management to work together to do what is right for the company. And let me end this that by allowing politics from the outside to be brought into the office will through its unethical nature destroy a company with conflict.

Ethically thinking, it's not that hard!

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