What ethical issue(s) do you face in this situation?
Ethical Dilemma: The supervisor is putting employees in the awkward position either of making their performance goal or facing punitive actions and losing potential rewards. In pressuring customers, you might even alienate and lose them while generating negative word-of-mouth publicity that will hurt the organization in the future. Moreover, this practice can violate some basic principles of ethical behavior because it can damage trust between supervisors and employees and, ultimately, between customers and service providers and the organization. This practice also defeats the part of the organization philosophy that states, “in a low-pressure customer atmosphere.”
How might these effect service delivery?
Ethical Dilemma: The customer is likely to receive less than stellar service because frontline service providers are going to feel pressured to hurry their service delivery. Additionally, service providers will potentially resent the supervisor, policy, and organization for creating a stressful work environment and/or withholding rewards on the basis of circumstances not always created by the employees. In the long run, employees may act out through tardiness, absenteeism, and high turnover. This can lead to stressed-out supervisors and a revolving-door problem of rotating employees who require ongoing training, increased costs, and loss of expertise to the organization.
What impact might this situation have on your performance?
Ethical Dilemma: When employees feel that they are in a “no-win” situation or that their supervisor is not listening or being realistic, they often develop poor attitudes and their performance suffers. In a service environment, this often equates to customer complaints and lost business. In any event, if your performance wanes, you will likely receive disciplinary action and could ultimately be terminated or quit out of frustration.
How might this situation be addressed?
Ethical Dilemma: Supervisors should take a realistic look at the mission statement and philosophy of the organization. They should also benchmark against similar industry organizations to see what types of policies and procedures they use with similar service situations. Ultimately, they should work with employees to develop realistic standards for quality service delivery. Employees should bring issues related to poor policies and procedures to their supervisor/team leader for discussion. They should take ownership of the issue rather than simply complaining to others about the stress and working conditions. It is possible that your supervisor is receiving pressure from his or her manager and is also frustrated but cannot voice that to you or other employees (since this would be unprofessional). If you perceive this to be the case, and you have a suggestion box or open-door policy, try presenting suggestions for improvement in a manner such that more senior people will hear and can potentially act upon them. Just remain professional in your approach.