Ethical Conduct and Leadership: The Recalcitrant Employee (Part 1 of 2)

by Mark Leonard

O’Rourke outlines basic principles of communication ethics in chapter 3 of Management Communication: A Case Analysis Approach.  In this chapter, O’Rourke explains that Ethical Conduct and Ethical Leadership require setting an example of morality for employees, applying ethical standards, and assisting employees in developing and applying their moral code.

Bo G. arrived at H5 Sykes, a military base in Northern Iraq near the Iraq-Syria border, in April 2011.  KBR had the operations, maintenance, and logistics contract for H5 Sykes and was responsible for 150 KBR employees along with 300 subcontract workers on the camp.  An Operations Cell of six personnel handled administrative functions for the base, I was charged with supervising this cell.  Bo came in as an operations specialist, an entry-level position.

Bo made a great first impression on the management team, he was 36 years old, bright, seemed highly motivated, and had a winning smile.  We immediately put him through the training process to get him up to speed on our reports, operating procedures, and workload.  After about a week Bo was still unable to complete simple tasks and I had to ask other personnel to simultaneously complete tasks to ensure that if Bo couldn’t get the job done, we did not fail to meet mission requirements.

As time went on, Bo began to test the limits of both his work requirements and company conduct policies.  He spent excessive time surfing the internet, did not comply with dress code, attempted to manipulate time keeping policies, and had episodes of insubordination.  Most importantly, even though I assigned each member of the team to try to train Bo over the course of a month, he was still unable to complete basic tasks, and would not even attempt to learn more complex tasks.  It became apparent that he was content to surf the internet for 12 hours a day and collect a paycheck.

This situation presented a challenge with regard to Ethical Conduct and Leadership, and had the potential to completely derail a department that was firing on all cylinders prior to Bo’s arrival.  Everyone had a niche and contributed their fair share of the work except Bo.  In part two of this blog post, I will detail the implications of Bo G.’s actions and tell you how the story ended.

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By mandybowling

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