Posted: March 16th, 2022

Personal versus and Professional Values

.ethical dilemma you know of, and how it was dealt with by management.


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Recently, Harvard Business School itself was involved in an ethical scandal when it turned out its dean might be involved in a gross case of conflict of interest (Galani, 2016). Conflicts of interest similar to this one at HBS happen often in organizations of all sizes. I was recently made aware of a case in which a local organization experienced an ethical dilemma involving a conflict of interest. One member of the board of directors had previously served on the city council, and still retained strong connections with the local community. Because the company was a real estate development company, the organization’s leadership came under considerable pressure for what appeared to be a conflict of interest and corruption — using the former councilman’s political ties for facilitating development projects and accepting additional advice and contracts.




When the media broke the story, the organization had to contend with the additional public relations storm. The public relations department was unhappy about the situation and asked that senior management consider severing ties with the board member. Some members of senior management agreed with the public relations department head, but others did not. Eventually, the manager decided to let the former councilman off the board of directors but it turned out to be traumatic for the company in general. The former councilman’s connections with the city council actually were facilitating company contracts, making the permit process easier than it should have been. It took the company a long time to recover and to adjust to a new time scale for their projects. After about a year, the company adjusted, and public relations department ensured that the loss of reputation was minimal. Conflicts of interest can be seriously damaging to the long-term reputation of the organization, which is what Galani (2016) discusses in an analysis of the current ethical dilemma in the Harvard Business School.








Galani, U. (2016). Harvard’s business dean faces own ethical dilemma. Reuters. Retrieved online:




Mosely, D.C., Mosely, D.C. & Pietri, P.H. (2015). Supervisory Management: The art of Inspiring, Empowering, and Developing People (9th edition) Cengage.




2. Discuss an example of how empowerment can help an organization, and an example of how “not empowering” a subordinate can also be appropriate.




Empowerment is a strategy used by transformational leaders. However, empowerment is not always possible or even beneficial. As Goldsmith (2010) points out, “it isn’t possible for a leader to ’empower’ someone to be accountable and make good decisions,” (p. 1). Empowerment happens over time, creating an organizational culture that supports its employees, refrains from micromanagement, and offers a combination of role clarity and flexibility that refrains from limiting the scope of each person’s contributions to the organization. When employees are empowered, they can make decisions that fit in with the big picture of the organization, or at least the big picture of its department’s goals.




One example of how empowerment can help an organization is when the organization is facing external pressures and strains. Forced to change or adapt to the situation, the organization can suddenly be thrust in to a position of turmoil in which it faces difficult decisions regarding the structure or culture of the company. In a situation like this, empowerment means entrusting the responsibility to manage successful change to each department or team. An empowerment strategy will “include the team in decision-making,” so that decisions are multilateral and made with respect to multiple points-of-view and opinions (“How Successful Leaders Use Empowerment to Build Trust and Excellence,” n.d.). Moreover, empowerment means listening to suggestions from all employees, and not just those in a supervisory role. Many employees might feel that they are not being listened to or that their opinions are not validated or valued. When employees are invited to participate in the decision-making process, their backgrounds, worldviews, and technical skills can contribute to the ongoing success of the organization.




One example of how “not empowering” a subordinate can be appropriate is in a situation where strong and decisive leadership is required immediately. For example, if the decision needs to be made immediately, the supervisor needs to take control and act: “empowering employees can slow down important processes, particularly during times of major change or instability,” (Hamlin, n.d.). Also, empowerment of subordinates means necessarily broadening one’s perspective and views — which can create a situation in which competing value systems interfere with the decision-making process.








Goldsmith, M. (2010). Empowering your employees to empower themselves. Harvard Business Review. 23 April, 2010. Retrieved online: It isn’t possible for a leader to “empower” someone to be accountable and make good decisions




Hamlin, K. (n.d.). The Pro & Cons of Empowerment in an Organization. Houston Business Chronicle. Retrieved online:




“How Successful Leaders Use Empowerment to Build Trust and Excellence,” (n.d.). Retrieved online:




3. Discuss an example of how underperforming employees can be motivated.




Motivating employees requires a number of different strategies and techniques. If employees are underperforming, motivation may be the problem. However, as Mosely, Mosely & Pietri (2015) point out, performance is not directly related to motivation in all cases. Skills, personality, and level of support are just as important as the personal issues related to motivation. It is also important for managers to respect the diversity of their workforce. Not all people are motivated by the same things. Individual differences, some of which are related to factors like culture and gender, might warrant different motivational strategies. Ultimately, employees need a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic motives to perform better. They need support, feedback, and reward.




The type of motivational strategy used also depends on the organization’s goals in improving employee performance. If leaders want to retain talent for long-term performance goals, and create a highly motivated and successful team, then Mosely, Mosely & Pietri (2015) recommend paying attention to the Maslow needs hierarchy. Individuals are not just motivated by their paycheck. They need to feel like their work is meaningful as well as valuable to the society. If employees are only motivated by their sales targets and other extrinsic factors, they might not be compelled to contribute extra, to offer suggestions for growth, or for participating in meetings. To create meaning, leaders need to impart value into the work. Organizations that are concerned about corporate social responsibility find ways of linking employee performance with social justice issues that matter to employees, thereby helping the employees to feel like their work is actually making the world a better place. When a company cannot or does not wish to demonstrate corporate social responsibility, then it can appeal to employee needs for social support, providing opportunities for frequent employee social engagements and active feedback procedures.




Mosely, D.C., Mosely, D.C. & Pietri, P.H. (2015). Supervisory Management: The art of Inspiring, Empowering, and Developing People (9th edition) Cengage.




4. Discuss why groups or teams may be a better option for organizing work — as opposed to completing tasks as individuals.




Some jobs are best done alone. However, organizations are by definition collective. They have a social dimension, and the success of the organization depends on recognizing the value in team building, interpersonal communications, and collaboration. Teams or groups can be a much better option for organizing workflow, strategizing, and completing complex tasks.




When tasks are completed by individuals, the result is a fragmented system in which individual employees can feel disconnected and alienated from the rest of the company, from its leaders, and from the organization’s goals. In this traditional structure of an organization, still common in bureaucratic and hierarchical organizations, tasks and roles are strictly differentiated with individuals completing specific tasks for which they were hired. Those employees do not perform tasks outside of their area. This is fine in some situations, but not in complex modern companies with heterogeneous needs.




Teams or groups are comprised of a number of different people with diverse backgrounds and skills sets. Each member of the team comes at the problem from a different stance, and offers a new set of eyes, new insight for strategizing solutions. Within the team, each person will have unique skills and talents that, when taken together, form a super group that transcends the abilities of just one individual. Moreover, when a task is complex, it needs to be broken down into constituent parts. An individual can become overwhelmed with doing too many things at once. In a team scenario, each individual is entrusted with an element so that no individual is overly burdened. The team can meet regularly for updates and feedback, enabling changes to the process that would also not be possible in a one-person operation. Therefore, organizing work is generally more efficient and effective in a team setting.




5. Some conflict is functional and productive, while other conflict can be dysfunctional and counter-productive. Describe a situation where conflict is functional and productive.




Conflict can be perceived of as a negative, as an impediment to work, or a disruption to the workflow. Interpersonal conflict can be especially troublesome for employees that do not like to deal with confrontations. However, conflict can be functional and productive. It can shake up a group that has become complacent. Conflict brings to light underlying issues instead of suppressing them, leading to deeper and more serious problems. By directly addressing the conflict and working it out, the team and organization allows itself to grow and move forward. The conflict can be an opportunity to change, for the organization to become more resilient in a competitive environment.




If conflict is managed strategically, it can lead to situations in which employees are energized. Employees push through their comfort zones and can think more creatively as well as faster than they would otherwise. Going through conflict situations as a team, the members of the organization might feel more intellectually and psychologically bonded than before the conflict. Without conflict, a team can stagnate, bereft of new ideas or emotional impetus. Conflict adds stressors that motivate employees to work hard finding solutions, and creates a workplace culture that focuses on collaboration and cooperation.




For example, an event planning team has been given six weeks from start to finish. On the team is a graphic designer who is in charge of marketing, the person in charge of coordinating the venues and scheduling the event itself, and the person in charge of fundraising and promotion. They frequently experience conflict related to the small details of the event: color schemes, themes, and overall tone and message. Through the conflict, the team members get to know each other better. They see that in spite of their differences, they actually work better together because of the “Thank you, I would never have thought of that!” moments that create success.




6. Does a leader have any responsibility to help their subordinates manage stress? Defend your answer.




Stress is a natural part of any workplace environment. It is up to each employee to manage stress in his or her own way, but the leaders of an organization can and often do play a role in setting an example for good stress management. Stress management strategies need to be taught. Not all people have healthy coping mechanisms. To prevent employees from getting burned out or allowing stress to impact their performance, leaders do have a responsibility to help their subordinates. This can be achieved through formal stress management programs, workshops, or seminars, or through one-on-one interactions. Leaders are not just responsible for helping their subordinates manage stress in order to promote harmony in the group, but also to promote organizational goals. After all, a group comprised of individuals who all have good ways of managing stress is going to be more productive than a group in which the individuals react to stress in unhealthy ways, such as with hostile-aggressive behavior, complaining, or clamming (Mosely, Mosely & Pietri, 2015, p. 385). If leaders do not help their subordinates manage stress, these behaviors can create a toxic work environment for everyone.




The leader can take responsibility for their subordinate’s stress management by not engaging in poor stress responses, mitigating problems with strong and decisive yet compassionate language. Listening to employee grievances, asking open-ended questions, and diffusing hostility are essential approaches (Mosely, Mosely & Pietry, 2015). However, the leader can also develop organization-wide stress management programs that provide subordinates with preventative models like mindfulness techniques. The responsibility lies with leadership to generate a workplace environment that is harmonious and supportive. When employees respond poorly to stress, it is in the leader’s best interest to respond in ways that benefit the organization.








Mosely, D.C., Mosely, D.C. & Pietri, P.H. (2015). Supervisory Management: The art of Inspiring, Empowering, and Developing People (9th edition) Cengage.




7. Controlling is a function of management. Describe an example of an effective control measure put in place by management.




Organizations would not succeed without controls; their operations would descend into chaos and productivity would falter. Management engages in several types of control, depending on the strategies of the organization, organizational culture, and departmental differences. There are different types of control in an organization: strategic, structural, operational, and financial. Each of these types of control will involve the establishment of standards, objectives, and goals. Likewise, each of these types of control requires performance measures and outcomes assessments, Managers also need to take corrective action during the control process (“Control in Organizations,” n.d.). For example, a manger might find that their employees have been abusing their expense accounts because there have not been any controls on that spending. Employees were initially entrusted with their expense accounts to that they could facilitate relationships with clients, but the accounting department has decided that the employees have been taking advantage of the system. The accounting manager then establishes controls, setting a limit as to when the expense account credit cards can be used, managing spending in other ways such as setting credit limits.




Another example of an effective managerial control would be in an organization that has specific workplace hazards. A factory setting, for example, presents a number of potential workplace hazards and risks. Heavy and dangerous machinery, chemicals, and other hazards need to be controlled — not only in how they are arranged in the workplace environment, but also in terms of how they are used. Management can write controls that involve safety procedures reflecting federal laws, and can hire supervisors that further monitor and control employee behavior around the safety hazards. Controls also include which employees are allowed to use which machines, based on their expertise and tenure. Finally, the manager can monitor the situation by requiring safety reports.








“Control in Organizations,” (n.d.). Retrieved online:




8. As a manager, would you prefer to hire a very intelligent person who has no experience, or one who is not very intelligent but has experience doing the tasks for the position you are hiring? Defend your answer.




I would prefer hiring the intelligent person with no experience, because intelligence can be transferred. This person could end up being a valuable addition to the organization and someone worth investing in for the future. The intelligent person can learn the same skills possessed by the other person, and expand that skill set even beyond what was initially required of the position. An intelligent person can become the member of a team or a team leader in the future. A person who has a lot of experience doing one task will likely want to remain doing the same task, and this could be detrimental to the organization unless it has been decided that it all that is needed.




Intelligence is a broad term, and can include multiple types of intelligence including interpersonal intelligence and emotional intelligence. The ability to think critically or independently are also signs of intelligence, as are mathematical and spatial relations or verbal skills. Therefore, the decision to hire would also be based on the type of intelligence the person has. If the position is for a writer, the individual who is intelligent in math but not in writing would not be a good fit. It really does depend on the needs of the department or organization.




Generally, an intelligent person will be one who is capable of growing and contributing to the organization. If my goal as a manager is to build a team, I would select the intelligent person every time. That person will be more interesting to work with and could stimulate the intellectual curiosity of other members of the team. Unless I just needed someone to remain quiet and do their job without complaint, coming in for their rigid schedule to perform narrowly defined and highly specialized labor, then I might go with the person who has the experience.




9. Discuss a progressive discipline plan for an office where there has been an issue with employees coming to work late. Describe a plan for at least the first four offenses of tardiness.




A progressive discipline plan is “an employee disciplinary system that provides a graduated range of responses to employee performance or conduct problems,” (Guerin, n.d.). The discipline is structured and varies according to the nature of the offence, as well as its frequency. There are several advantages of using progressive discipline. For one, the disciplinary strategies are clearly outlined so there is no discrepancy or room for discrimination or favoritism. Second, the employee is made aware of the first offence in ways that are compassionate, allowing managers to correct the problem with the cooperation of the employee instead of immediately using coercion. The result is improved communication, and even “higher performance and productivity,” (Guerin, n.d.). The discipline is also fair as well as allowing the company to avoid legal or other complications that would have arisen if the discipline was overly harsh.




For example, if employees come to work late, it is not grounds for termination unless the problem was severe and repeated over time. The progressive disciplinary plan would involve a system whereby the first offense results in a warning. As long as the employee was only slightly late, the warning might be all that is necessary to get the employee back on track. The manager might need to find out if the employee has children they are dropping off at school, causing them to be late, or whether they take a long public transportation route. If their schedule needs to be adjusted so the employee shows up later but also stays later, this could be arranged. If adjustments were made, but the employee continues to show up late, then the second offense might be wearing a scarlet letter T. for tardy. This would publically shame the employee but do so in a comedic fashion. After the third offence, the employee could be made to buy the manager coffee from the Starbucks down the road. The fourth offence of tardiness might entail making the employee listen to Justin Bieber songs through their headphones for the rest of the day. If the behavior had not been changed by then, the manager might need to terminate the employee.








Guerin, L. (n.d.). What Is Progressive Discipline for Employees? NOLO. Retrieved online:




10. Discuss the pros and cons of a unionized versus a non-unionized organization — DO NOT just list the differences.




From the employees’ perspective, a unionized organization offers the opportunity for collective bargaining, legal counsel, fair wages, the means by which to negotiate with management, and the prevention of exploitation. Moreover, promotions are linked with tenure and not with favoritism. Pay is equitable between males and females, and also linked with tenure and not with subjective factors. Labor unions also ensure that employees are not being exploited by being asked to work additional hours without receiving overtime. Employees might also receive additional benefits like healthcare plans that the organization would not have offered to a non-unionized force. From the employer’s perspective, a union adds the benefit of a work force that can be more satisfied overall, even if empowerment levels are relatively low.




From the employees’ perspective, a unionized organization could be restrictive. The employee has to pay dues. The employee does not have a voice that can be used to influence management or change organizational culture. The employee is not empowered. Employees are beholden to the union leaders for stop work orders, even if the employees actually do not want to stop work and strike. From the employers’ perspective, the cons of unions are obvious. Unions make wage demands and withhold their members’ labor until those demands have been met. Unions can meet with the press and create public relations problems for the company. Unions provide the means for employees to be empowered in ways other than through the organization, such as by ensuring equitable pay and fair pay, rather than having the organization determine what it wants to pay the workers. Unionized labor creates different pricing strategies for the organization, and impacts the organizational culture by creating an adversarial relationship between workers and supervisors. When the union decides to stop work, it can damage the company’s reputation as well as cause financial damage.

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