We are committed to doing the right thing every time with our Core Values and Values in Action as our guide. When we fall short and do the wrong thing, we make it right.
It may sound a bit extreme to say that we virtually always know what the right thing to do is, but we do. And, I’m including you in “we.” I’m not referring here to typical business decisions like what new products to launch, what markets to enter or exit and who to hire to make it all happen. No, I’m referring to matters of ethics, morals and values. So long as you’re clear on what your ethics, morals and values are, what you should do is usually pretty clear in light of them. In our experience, the proverbial “moral dilemma” is a rare occurrence once your morals have been clarified, memorialized and agreed upon.
This Value in Action was put to the test in several ways after making a very poor consultant hiring decision. This particular mistake was all on me and once again validated a lifelong pattern; most of my mistakes have been made in a hurry.
In our rush to meet the client’s need, we forgot to do a background check on our new consultant. Had we done so, law enforcement later assured me that we would not have hired this individual. Enter part B of doing the right thing: “When we fall short and do the wrong thing, we make it right.”
When we provide a consultant to perform staff augmentation work for a client, supervision of that consultant is the client’s responsibility. Such was the case with the deeply disturbed consultant we had unwittingly introduced into our client’s environment. So, when they refused to pay for two months’ of billable work, we could have challenged them on the basis that supervision was their responsibility, not ours. However, but for our inexcusable hiring mistake, their supervisory challenge would not have existed. Ergo, writing off the entire two months of billings was the right thing to do, so we did.
That decision was much easier than those regarding our troubled consultant’s termination process. Mind you, this person had just caused me the most professionally embarrassing situation of my entire career. I was more than a bit upset by it. So much so that I’m uncharacteristically leaving out many details herein. I would literally break out in a cold sweat whenever I checked the email folder reserved for the frequent e-missiles launched by our troubled employee at me and our client. It was a nightmare.
Our first Core Value, “Nurture the Dignity of All People” was immensely helpful in my efforts to end this nightmare. Though this person had made major withdrawals from my personal dignity account, I was determined to make some deposits in theirs. While those e-missiles often contained very derogatory names for me and our client, we resisted the urge to return fire. Sticks and stones break bones but words can destroy a soul. To engage in name calling would have been a blatant violation of our Dignity value.
We did, however, face one of those rare moral dilemmas when it came to our troubled former employee’s unemployment claim. Since we had terminated this employee for multiple causes, we could have denied their claim to unemployment. However, since this person was either mentally ill and/or had a very debilitating addiction problem with no support system around them, they were going to be receiving state and federal aid for the foreseeable future. Unemployment would be the first and least expensive form, so after much discussion with our CFO, we decided to let the claim go through. If we made a mistake, we did so erring on the side of grace and compassion, so we have peace with the decision.