Who Is Ultimately Responsible for Unethical Behavior in the Work Place?

There are several answers to this question depending on your point of view.  Some individuals would say the responsibility lies with the governing entity (School Board, College Board, Tribal Council, TERO Commission, etc.).  Others would say the CEO (Presidents, Superintendents, or General Managers).  Still others would say the supervisor and/or mid-management.  Finally, others would contend that the workers themselves were responsible for their own behavior.  Actually, the easy simple answer would be to say "all of them" but the issue is much more complicated then that.

In this blog, I am going to briefly cover the actions of the governing board and the CEO (Presidents, Superintendents, or General Managers) and how their unethical and unprofessional actions complicate the process of governing an organization.  Later blogs will cover the supervisors/mid-management, staff, and the public, and how their unethical and unprofessional actions harm an organization.

Those who say the governing entity is ultimately legally responsible for every thing that happens in an organization would be correct.   However, governing boards meet only once a month, so it is unrealistic to expect them to hold staff accountable on a daily basis. This is where a CEO (Presidents, Superintendents, or General Managers) come in.  The governing board hires them to hold the employee accountable for unethical behavior.  This appears to be a simple concept that most people can understand - and most people do.  However, you would be surprised at how many governing board members either do not know this concept or choose to ignore it.

It becomes complicated when the following occur:
•    A member of the governing board, usually acting on a "inside tip," brings up an employee's complaint, or a complaint about an employee, at a board meeting.  This circumvents the chain-of-command and/or due process and depending on how the rest of the board and CEO respond to this board member's action, the issue usually goes from bad to worse.
•     Board members are not always the cause of problems within an organization.  In fact, many board members feel they have to take action when the CEO either tries to cover up an issue, does not have the courage to take actions, or practices favoritism.  Therefore, the board starts taking over the responsibility of the CEO.  When this happens, watch out because there is no telling what will happen. When Individuals with no education or experience are running the day-to-day operation of an organization (among other things), the meetings become very, very long. 

These are just two examples of the complex interaction between a governing board and a CEO.  My next blog will talk about the interaction between the supervisor, the CEO, and the board, and how unethical and or unprofessional behavior can turn those interactions dysfunctional.  To learn more about governing and decision making within an organization enroll in our next course, "Ethical Decision Making" which will be available in a couple of months.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dr. Erich Longie published on January 20, 2009 10:22 PM.

Employee Commitment was the previous entry in this blog.

Ethical and Courageous Managers is the next entry in this blog.

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