I suspect that all of us in the world of business, athletics, music, etc. recognize the importance of teamwork. Old cliches come to mind, such as "Individuals score points, but teams win games."
In the business world, the concept of teamwork is particularly important, but according to Ed Petry, executive director of the Ethics Officer Association in Belmont, Massachusetts, there is one dilemma that regularly confronts teams working in businesses together. The dilemma is one of ethics or integrity.
Petry points out in an article in USA Today that when you work in a team and become close to the other members, it often happens that some unethical conduct takes place on the part of an individual, whether it's taking money or revealing trade secrets. The question is, Do you tell the boss?
He points out that, if you tell, it will make it harder to work in a small group, and according to Graham Phaup at the Institute for Global Ethics in Camden, Maine, "it's truth vs. loyalty. Is it right to tell the truth and lose friendships?" Those who do report problems, he says, risk being shunned by others on their team if word gets out. Managers say they strive to let workers know they should tell if something is amiss.
Yes, it really is a dilemma, and this is the point where the integrity of management is critical in solving the problem. If the workers know they can talk with complete confidence to management and that their trust will never be betrayed, they are far more likely to report a situation that could potentially be job-threatening for all of them. That's integrity, and that's a quality that gives all of us something to smile about.
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