Sarah is facing a very common ethical dilemma that many professionals face when they are affronted with the pressures of a new positions and the future prospect of being promoted, (Gentile, Mary, 2016). The lines of ethics tend to have a very gray area that stem from the desire to satisfy a new boss and the loyalty to a former team that depends on ethics for record keeping purposes. Sarah’s moves have to be calculated in this instance so that she does not pay later on for a very poorly formulated decision. Consider the answers to the following questions with this mindset in that, Sarah, is in a little bit of a professional pickle that surely has no easy solution.
What are the main arguments Sarah is trying to counter? That is, what are the reasons and rationalizations Sarah needs to address?
Sarah is facing the classic professional dilemma in that she is is battling the interests of two different teams, (Gentile, Mary, 2016). Sarah is also facing the dilemma of whether to boost her job performance or to be ethical, (Gentile, Mary, 2016). Sarah has a very important decision to make that on the surface sounds very easy. In one sense, Sarah could easily decide to neglect the interests of her former accounting team because they are no longer supervising her, correct? That being said, her actions could lead to the company misreporting financial information, which could subject her former department to disciplinary proceedings.
Most importantly, Sarah has to make a pivotal decision as to whether her job performance is more important than “going by the book,” (literally). This is an enormous decision for Sarah because, arguably, the profit has not yet come into the company’s assets and that means that her department is not technically eligible for the bonus, (Gentile, Mary, 2016). This sort of decision happens all the time in which bosses want their departments to generate numbers, which forces them to ask their employees to make unethical decisions.
The other decision that Sarah is affronted with is whether she should allow her former accounting team to be subject to disciplinary measures, (Gentile, Mary, 2016). Sarah, being a former member of the accounting team is well aware of the implications of her actions on the balance sheet. This is why she knows and has to decide whose interests to put first and this decision surely is not an easy one that can be made overnight. Whichever rationalization that she chooses, one side loses, which is never an easy decision to make.
What’s at stake for the key parties, including those with whom you disagree?
Former Accounting Team: Even though the former accounting team may not be aware of the risk that they are being exposed to, their interests are at play here. If Sarah recognizes the sale, the accounting department will be exposed to risks within their department relating to the fact that the balance sheet will not match and the department will have to review the earnings and see where the discrepancy is coming from, (Gentile, Mary, 2016).
Customer: The customer is also at risk here in the sense that if they decided to cancel the order for whatever reason or the order becomes impossible by force majeure, they will have the possibility that the company may not want to refund their full order price since there is a back up in the accounting department with the balance of incomes versus liabilities.
New Sales Director and Unit General Manager: Depending on what Sarah ends up deciding the new sales director and general manager are absolutely implicated by her decision. The reason for this is that these two professionals want their department to look the best that it can to upper management. It is for this reason that they are pushing Sarah to record the sale for the period that is closing to make them look better and to increase employee approval rate for those who want their bonuses, (Gentile, Mary, 2016). These two professionals also are still formulating their opinion of Sarah as a controller, which is a major issue for them regarding Sarah’s choice as well.
Sarah: Sarah surely is the primary party who could be implicated by what she decides given that it will likely determine whether she is going to be given a good review by her new team. This is precisely why these decisions are so imperative to make in the long run. Sarah obviously wants to be considered for upward movement in the company and she has a major risk here because she can either be unethical in order to get ahead or get caught being unethical in the process and lose her job in the long run. The choice is Sarah’s pertaining to how far she is willing to go for her career objectives in the long term.
What levers/arguments can Sarah use to influence those with whom she disagrees?
Sarah has one primary argument to make to her new management team and that is to make them see the possible implications of recording this sale in the long run. The overall strategy for Sarah is to instill fear in her bosses in a professional way of what this discrepancy in revenues could cost to the company and particularly, their department later on. Sometimes if managers are reminded of this, they tend to see the issue from a big picture lens. The idea is to avoid getting a short term gain if there are going to be long term consequences. And so, Sarah essentially has to throw a glass of water in their faces (figuratively) with a cost – benefit analysis in order to demonstrate why this bonus would not be effective for their program in the long term.
The other argument that Sarah could prospectively make is to show that the employees could get two bonuses in lieu of one that would in the long run make them happier. By giving the bonus out in one swoop, the department would be foolish. If they wait, they could give the façade that the employees are secure in getting bonuses in the event that next month is slower. The key to this approach is that Sarah has to give the impression that slow and steady wins the race is better than giving bonuses out all up front that the company has not officially earned yet for the sake of “fiscal appearances.” If Sarah portrays this from an angle such as this, she will likely have a strong case to present to the managers of her department.
What is your most powerful and persuasive response to the reasons and rationalizations you need to address?
In my experience, a short term gain in business that is unethical never goes well. It is best to allow the natural ebb and flow of commerce to dictate how the profits are going to be calculated. In this example, if the sale has not officially happened yet and was not delivered, then it was not a revenue and that is it. The way that professionals get into trouble is their notion that the book of ethics is a cafeteria that they can chose their favorite dish. This is surely not the case and Sarah should be strong in her principles here because if she does end up being unethical and gets fired for it, then her career would be ruined anyways. She may as well take the risk of being ethical by presenting a strong case to her bosses. If she does this, she will likely protect herself and her company from unnecessary scrutiny.
Gentile, Mary. “Be Careful What You Wish For: From the Middle. Babson. 2016. Web. 30 April 2016.