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Commitment Helps in Overcoming Common Management Predicaments

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Humphrey Mokaya
Director Learning and Development.
Ethical and moral predicament
An ethical predicament can be described as a decision that requires a choice among competing sets of principles, often in complex and value laden contexts. It is a dilemma that is grounded in the values, principles, beliefs, and habits of a manager.
The ethical moral predicament poses the questions of whether the manager provides an enabling arena for an appropriate tone of virtuous leadership and moral fiber; will be held captive by corruption and moral decadence; will merely adhere to mandatory compliance as opposed to voluntary compliance; and whether manager would contend with the conscience house of internal battles regarding dishonesty in one’s public and private dealings.
Ethical dilemmas are likely to confront public sector managers as they endeavour to select options amongst competing sets of principles, values and beliefs. These spheres of responsibility have the potential to pull managers in different directions and thus create ethical predicaments for them. Many of the ethical predicaments facing professionals and leaders do not just centre upon ‘right versus wrong’ but can involve ‘right versus right'.
Ethical dilemmas can arise from equally attractive options that could be justified as being `right' in particular situations. We contend that within complex contexts and circumstances it may not be easy to discern what the ‘right' option might be from the ‘wrong' option or whether the action is legal or illegal.
Nevertheless, the manager must demonstrate the courage to carry out ethical decisions aligned to ethical actions. Sometimes pressure exists in the workplace that is contrary to making ethical decisions but somehow benefits the organization. For example, in a financial reporting scenario, the Chief Executive Officer might pressure the Financial Officer to go along with an accounting treatment that crosses the line between being ethical and unethical.
In other words it may violate accounting standards but, it would enable the organization to meet financial targets for the year. The result is higher bonuses and an impressive financial outlook. Everyone will be happy. However, this will be erroneous because the shareholders are misled and accounting principles will have been violated.
It is important to note that when financial decisions are made to ‘manipulate’ earnings in one year it has a snowball effect on future years. In a sense the manager is borrowing revenue from a later period to make the current period look better, a practice known ‘accelerating revenue’. The practical problem is that the manager will now need to cover the second year’s revenue shortfall by borrowing from the next period and then the next. Before one knows it, the manager will have taken the first step down the proverbial ‘ethical slippery slope’ and it becomes very difficult to turn around and head back up to the high ground, assuming one ‘grows a conscience’. More often than not, the initial action leads to a cover-up and matters eventually spin out of control.
There, however, exists a solution. For these dilemmas to be overcome, managers have to develop measures to spot ethical issues, interpret how one decision can spawn myriad ethical dilemmas, clarify organizational policy and code of ethics provisions as well as existing laws, and apply ethical reasoning to evaluate alternative courses of action besides double-checking their decisions before taking action. Perhaps the final questions on the ethical moral dilemmas would be: “How would I feel if my decision made it to the front pages of the paper? How would my folks feel about this? Would I feel proud to defend it?"
More educated but less knowledgeable predicament
Both in terms of raw numbers and as a percentage of the Kenyan society, more people have University degrees now than ever before. This is a good thing because it means more people see the value in being educated, but some of these folks assume that the degree alone is a ticket to success. It is important to remember that it is not the degree but what one does with it that makes the difference. This dilemma confronts the manager in the form of Millennials who are hired on the strength of academic qualifications but who likewise harbour a restless disposition that renders the work of the manager difficult.
The Millennials want to get rich quickly, see no need for prescribed work times if the work can be done from home, see no reason to wear neck ties and suits, find it difficult to relate in a structured work environment and harbour no qualms in changing jobs twice a year. It is the role of the manager to navigate this terrain of highly qualified but less knowledgeable younger staff and nurture them round to full blossom. This is a managerial predicament that tests the manager’s patience, agility, and creativity as well as stewardship capabilities.
In this circumstance the manager has to develop a robust coaching and mentorship program for the Millennials aimed at socializing them to the work ethic of the organization. The manager must also painstakingly counsel, provide leadership and nurture the latent talent lying idle in this category of staff. For realization of desirable results, the human resource function within the organization must, therefore, ensure the development and operationalization of full knowledgeable yleounger staff and nurture them round to full blossom. This is a managerial predicament that tests the manager’s patience, agility, and creativity as well as stewardship capabilities.
In this circumstance the manager has to develop a robust coaching and mentorship program for the Millennials aimed at socializing them to the work ethic of the organization. The manager must also painstakingly counsel, provide leadership and nurture the latent talent lying idle in this category of staff. For realization of desirable results, the human resource function within the organization must, therefore, ensure the development and operationalization of full-fledged coaching and mentorship programs.


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