Managerial Role in Employees’ Ethical Behavior


Employees face a number of diverse and complicated issues when making decisions at the workplace (Stevens 602). The conflict of interest between the parties involved and the issues related to community welfare and colleagues are some of the ethical problems that affect employees’ decision-making. A major issue that affects these concerns is the moral worth of a decision or action of an employee. In most organizations, employers fail to describe how their employees are supposed to assess the moral worth of action and how to incorporate ethics in their decision-making procedures (Stevens 604).

As such, it is clear that most organizations tend to ignore the moral worth of their employees’ actions, yet they require their employees to act in a manner that satisfies various parties, including the suppliers, customers, the community, managers, supervisors, and their colleagues. How can employees be made to behave ethically at their workplace? How can employees be motivated to consider the moral worth of their actions? This paper examines the role of managers in motivating employees to act in an ethical manner in order to satisfy the parties involved in any business organization. It argues that the managers have the critical responsibility of employing theories and knowledge to motivate employees to act morally in their decision-making at the workplace.

How can a manager and/or leader motivate their employees to conduct themselves in an ethical way?

Managers can use various methods to motivate ethical behavior in their organizations. First, the organizational leader or manager should develop a strong code of ethics to prevent employee misconduct. The manager should publish a code of ethics to forbid, prohibit, find unacceptable, or expressly reject some types of behavior (Stevens 602). However, this method is not effective if it is not combined with other techniques and strategies. For example, some misconducts will still happen even in cases where a strong code of ethics exists or is known to the employees. For instance, employees are likely to lie to the customers or other parties, discriminate against each other, engage in conflicts of interest, steal and harass others without the notice of the managers (Stevens 605). Therefore, it is worth employing and applying effective and modernized knowledge-based methods of motivating employees to behave ethically and morally.

Secondly, managers should use the expectancy theory to motivate ethical behavior in their organizations. The theory is an effective method of motivating employees to act ethically (Stevens 607). Managers must identify the factors that play a significant role in motivation. For example, managers must note that effort-performance concept is important in motivating their employees. The effort-performance is the tendency of people to believe that their efforts will automatically improve the expected outcomes. Employees who believe that they can increase their outcomes by applying more effort tend to have a high E-P expectancy.

The managers can use reward systems to motivate the employees with a high E-P expectancy because they will act ethically in order to the reward. Secondly, the performance-outcome expectancy is the tendency of people to believe that performing better in action or task automatically rewards the person for the efforts (Stevens 608). Therefore, employers must ensure that reward systems in order to ensure that employees’ expectancies are utilized to motivate them to act ethically at the workplace. For instance, promotions, recognition, and awarding employees can be used to reward employees who show a strong ability to relate well with other parties within the code of conduct established at the company (Fudge and Schlacter 296).

Thirdly, managers or organizational leaders can use the management control systems to motivate ethical behavior in their companies. An organization can design and implement management control systems in a manner that influences the behavior of employees. The desired behavior can be instilled by ensuring that the management control systems increase the probability of the organization to achieve its goals (Fudge and Schlacter 296). An effective management control system has three major components- monitoring performance, communicative and specifying objective and employee motivation through reward systems (Fudge and Schlacter 298). Specifying and communicative objective is an important component of the management control system because it states the aim of the organization and the measurements of its objectives. Monitoring performance is a component of the system that provides feedback and helps the organization to monitor the actions and decisions of the employees while employee motivation serves to ensure that employees assume the desired behavior and act in the desired way (Stevens 609).

Therefore, managers must ensure that their management control systems have the three factors or components at any time. They must ensure that employee rewarding and recognition are geared towards achieving the organizational objective. In addition, the communication and specification of the right actions and behaviors must be combined with the rewarding system through motivation in order to achieve the right action and behavior patterns.

Managers can also use training programs to ensure that their employees behave ethically at the workplace. According to Adam and Rachman-Moore (227), there is a strong relationship between the codes of conduct and communication. According to this view, codes of conduct can be effective when combined with communication. A good method of applying communication at the workplace is through training programs. Managers must ensure that their employees are familiar with the codes, their specifications, legal regulations and the ethical aspects involved (Fudge and Schlacter 299). Through training programs, the employees are likely to be familiar with these aspects and realize the importance of acting ethically at the workplace.

Which method of motivating ethical behavior is the most important?

As described above, managers have the critical roles of motivating their employees to act ethically. While the methods of achieving ethical behavior at the workplace are many, it is important to note that communication is the most important method for ensuring that employees are aware of the ethical codes, the importance of being ethical and the expected outcomes. As such, I believe that communication through training programs is the most important method because it ensures that the employees are aware of the importance of other methods and the expected outcomes of applying them.

What would make you choose the ethical versus unethical decision?

The consequences of unethical behavior would make me choose the actions that are ethical in nature. Although unethical behaviors are associated with some corporate benefits, it is worth noting that the long-term effects are detrimental to the company. It is not good to cheat, deceive, mislead, harass or fraud customers, suppliers and stakeholders. It is important to tell them the truth. I have witnessed some companies take some unethical behavior such as fraud and inability to account for funds. However, the long-term effects are detrimental and cause heavy losses to the companies involved. Therefore, the consequences of unethical behavior would make me choose the ethical actions regardless of the prevailing circumstances.

Works Cited

Adam, Avshalom and Dalia Rachman-Moore. “The methods used to implement an ethical code of conduct and employee attitudes”. Journal of Business Ethics 54.3 (2004): 225-244. Print

Fudge, Robert and John Schlacter. “Motivating employees to act ethically: An expectancy theory approach”. Journal of Business Ethics 18.3 (2009): 295-304. Print.

Stevens, Betsy. “Corporate ethical codes: Effective instruments for influencing behavior”. Journal of Business Ethics, 78.4 (2008): 601–609. Print.