It is not a secret that work is a place where all people are tested – for intelligence, courage, reaction, patience etc. Many of such tests include serious ethical dilemmas, which oftentimes are hard to solve without making substantial trade-offs. One of such dilemmas I had to face was how to inform a general manager of the company I worked for about the fact that I was worth more than the head of my department thought of me and thus made me do. The solution of this dilemma could either turn into my discharge or ultimately into promotion. Unfortunately, I had to face the former.
Yet, I got a real lesson for future. In fact, I evaluated my knowledge and skills as those being much higher than my actual chief thought of. For quite a long period of time I was doing certain things, which didn’t require special education – running errands, filling different paperwork, checking mail etc. However, at some point of time I have realized that I couldn’t go on like that, since I had substantially bigger potential than that. The head of my department had a chance to get to know about my abilities, because once I prepared an analytical report for the department and presented it to him.
I was quite surprise that he ignore this fact and even worsened his attitude towards me. Having noticed this, I decided that I had to somehow show myself from the best side possible in order to deserve and get more responsible tasks and have a chance to grow professionally. Yet, I realized that it was necessary to turn directly to General Manager omitting my actual chief. That was a real ethical dilemma, since I had to report not to GM but to my boss. Avoiding direct contact with the latter first, was not very honest on my behalf. However, this issue had to be resolved somehow.
It is interesting, that this conflict was involving just two people – me and my boss. The latter never gave me a word and was constantly trying to prevent my communication with the Heads of other departments. Later on I have understood that he was simply afraid of competition. I was smarter than him, and that’s what he fears. As for the other people in my department, it seemed that they feared to say anything or even analyze the situation. My position was quite low in the department, so my colleagues obviously thought that I didn’t have the right to show my discontent.
Nowadays, I can firmly say that such an attitude is unacceptable, cause it somehow encourages the managers like mine to continue oppressing subordinates. From professional point of view, it is not only unethical but ineffective as well, since oppressed employees are dissatisfied ones. Dissatisfied employees, in turn, cannot work productively, which reflects negatively on the overall performance of the company as a whole. Anyway, my co-workers understood that I was treated unfairly, and they felt sorry for me. However, they were silent and didn’t try to change the situation.
As it was already mention, the ethical dilemma was in the fact that the attempt to show my real skills reporting directly to GM and omitting my actual chief wasn’t honest on my behalf. I decided to prepare a strategic plan for development of the company and present it to the GM, mentioning that my real skills and abilities are underestimated. The difference of power and authority between me and my chief, as well as between my chief and GM was enormous. I realized my word against the word of my actual boss was nothing.
Yet, on the other hand I also knew that if I can prove my abilities to my GM, he could promote me ignoring the opinion of the Head of my Department. So, I decided to give it a shot. To be completely honest, I had to face not just external dilemma, but internal one as well, since my personal values were touched. The main values that were in conflict were my honesty and diligence on one hand, and my ambitions and self-esteem on the other hand. I have clearly realized it was not very fair to complain on my boss, even indirectly, before clarifying the point with him first.
Yet, my natural ambition and my deep offense made me act according to my plan. Moreover, I was afraid that the preliminary conversation with my boss wouldn’t solve the existing conflict between us anyway. I have already mentioned that the potential outcome of the conflict could be either my discharge or my promotion. For the rest of the people within the department, my discharge would mean that the Head of my department is in the rule of the situation and everybody has to obey. In contrary, my promotion could mean that employees are valued for their real skills and not for personal preferences of the boss.
Moreover, it could give them a hope for growth within the company. So, I have presented my plan to GM. At first, it seemed that he was impressed by it. However, the next day my actual chief told me that I was fired. I didn’t ask any explanation. I decided to talk to my GM. The latter told me that it was not very smart and nice of me to do something behind the back of my chief. He also told me that he didn’t want any spy in his company. So, I had to leave. For those who worked with me, it was a good lesson, as well as it was for me.
My colleagues have understood that the freedom of the expression didn’t exist in our company and that the personal ties between management are actually more powerful than the argument of knowledge and skills. Nowadays, I wouldn’t act the way aced in that situation. I still think that I was unfairly treated. However, I also acted not ethically and professionally right. Thus, I got my penalty. It was necessary to talk seriously to my chief and convince him that I could be a great help for him and for the department in general.
Consequently, the good work of the department would lead to much respect for himself personally on behalf of general manager. Moreover, increased effectiveness on our department could also turn into more financial benefits for the Head of the department as a reward for a good work. Thus, the main lesson is: the power of argument is stronger than the argument of power. It is necessary to talk honestly and to clarify all the points. Communication is the best way to resolve conflicts.