Ethics during Change

Door Susanrose gepubliceerd op Monday 25 May 09:20

Ethics are a soft aspect in the process of implementing changes. They refer to the correctness of the decisions made and, if not managed properly, ethics can lead to unexpected consequences. This paper covers the key ethic challenges that might rise in the course of implementing changes in organizations.

Before starting to discuss the main issues of ethical challenges in implementing changes, it is important to identify the theory ethical issues’ emergence. It involves three components. The first one is trigger point. Mistrust, a broken promise, manipulation or mere misunderstanding can be well used for a trigger. The role of a trigger is to give birth to doubts about an employee.

The next component is ambiguity. It basically involves uncertainty or equivocality that emerges as a result of miscommunications or absence of a clear communication strategy for addressing the planned changes. Eventually, an ethical issue becomes obvious when an employee who feels that his or her welfare will be affected by the change. In other words, it occurs when an employee is afraid that his or her rights would be violated by the change. In total, all of these issues lead to an emerging ethical conflict within an organization.

On the other hand, an ethical issue could be avoided if an organization adheres to the following scheme. First, it should consult with the managers. Secondly, it is critically important to define the strategic frame for the coming changes and for the ethical issues that could arise in the context of the upcoming changes.

Firstly, it is important to stress out that the process of evolution and development is inherent for success of any venture. Only those who have learned how to adapt to the constantly changing environment have stayed afloat and continued to be successful. It is, however, important to determine who is empowered to initiate the change within the organization. At first, is seems that the changes are implemented by the top management and driven by it. In total, they are empowered with the competency to make such large-scale decisions.

Yet, the employees always have some kinds of expectations towards the company’s administration and top management. They are based on the promises made and compromises reached in many negotiations. Therefore, in order to avoid the resistance and ethical dilemmas the organizations are recommended to involve their personnel into the decision-making process regarding the upcoming changes. They are a part of the organization, its very important part and they deserve the right to be aware of the alterations that might affect their lives. The employees should be always kept in mind when the changes are initiated. It basically applies to the small business owner on whom the people depend on. Therefore, the decisions about the planned changes should be taken from their perspective as well. As much as possible, the leader should be willing to ensure that the employees will contribute from his change and that no one would be lost in the end.

Secondly, the business owner has to keep the track of the change-related processes. The ambiguity in the process of selection is one of the critical issues that should be avoided. The criteria for making cutting or limiting decisions should be clearly stated, especially when it relates to shrinking the organization’s staff or redundancy due to operational reasons. The ambiguity in such decisions or the unclearness can lead to the emergence of the fear of being fired and nihilism among the employees that in its turn might result in the low productivity and decreased profits as well as overall deterioration of the situation.

In order to avoid the ambiguity, the employer or the top manager must clearly communicate all the key aspects of the changes that are on the way. The employees must clearly understand the meaning of such changes and their importance for their careers within the company. This point is critical for chain corporations or for the processes of mergers and acquisitions. The case of BigBoxCo employees clearly illustrates this ethical dilemma. The employees that joined BigBoxCo were obviously aware of the fact that they were employed by this company, yet no obvious changes occurred in regard to their statuses. They felt disconnected, since the rules that were in force at the BigBoxCo did not apply to them.

Following the previous issue, openness and honesty in communications with the employees, as well as partners, who are going with the organization through the changing process, are critical. Broken promises and misunderstandings are ranked among the most common reasons for conflicts within organizations. Ethical principles providing honesty help to avoid such challenges. Communications must be transparent. Mutual trust between the organization, its employees and partners should be a priority, especially during the process of implementing changes. Otherwise, a company would have to focus away from the changes and to resolve the problems created by mistrust in the organization. Manipulation of the employee’s opinions and emotions should also be prohibited in the process implementing changes, as it ruins the trustworthy relations built over the course of many years.

In particular, the scholars refer to the importance of choosing the approach to the change, the employer's responsibilities, the targets of the changes and manipulations regarding the changes. These challenges usually emerge when the managers consider that the goals and values to be attained are incompatible with the company’s employees. They stress that the high degree of employee participation as well as openness might serve as cures for this issue. They also suggest the model for the company to follow while implementing the changes and ensuring its ethical aspects. At first, they recommend to define the final objective and changes that must be implemented in order to reach this objective. The company, thus, should share the ultimate purpose of the changes with the employees. They should clearly understand the benefits as well as the hardships that might be brought by the oncoming changes. In this regard, the employer or the business owner has to define the scope to which the planned changes are going to affect the ethical principles of the company. In other words, one of the prevention tools that the company might use in order to avoid the ethical challenges is to anticipate them. The preparation in this case is the key to successful implementation.

In conclusion, the process of implementing changes significantly affects the organization and its operations. The ethical issues arise in case three requirements are fulfilled: a trigger, an ambiguous situation and its interpretation and the changes of the employee’s welfare. Miscommunications, absence of communication channels, manipulations, ambiguity, unclearness and many other issues might serve as triggers for loss of trust in relations between the organization, its partners and its employees and eventually lead to an emerging conflict.

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