Sample Case Study on Unethical Decisions at Kimball


Unethical Decisions at Kimball

The growth of an institution is largely dependent on the way it handles its employees and clients’ relations. In Kimball’s predicament, it was evident that the aim of the managers was to realize growth. The CEO knew the essence of having clear channels of communication that enable junior staffs to air their grievances. Nevertheless, he opted to overlook this fact and this affected company’s expansion negatively.

The firm insisted that formal channels should be used to report issues even when aware that this had the potential of causing junior staffs’ victimization and fear. The insistence by the HR department of the company served as the initial failure by the high-ranking management.

While reporting to Mr. Geoff, the company’s COO, Brian did not follow the formal channels. As such, the company demanded that he report his findings to the immediate boss so that appropriate action could be taken. His decision reveals that there is no openness among the sales persons as well as their bosses. Brian did not trust Andrew.

Secondly, the assertion of Brian was that the company lacked confidential reporting. This is depicted by the way the matter that Brian reported was handled by being referred to Andrew. As such, Brian was exposed to Andrew and this led to his subsequent problems. Some employees of the company misused their authority by harassing their juniors so that they could enter illegal deals so that they can earn more bonuses or have their juniors submit to them.

Wrongful transfers, employment termination and demotions of employees are also unethical activities that were raised. Brian was a victim of this when Brian realized that he brought up the issue of illegal deals that earned him bonuses. Additionally, he used his divorce situation to his advantage as a way of frustrating Brian. This can be seen from Brian’s deterioration at work because of the frustrations that his boss put him through.

These are avoidable unethical decisions because only the responsible persons were required to think about them before making any move. First, Brian could have maintained a good working relationship with his boss by following the stipulated channel while reporting the issue. It was unethical for Andrew to frustrate Brian. Instead, he ought to have accepted his mistake and then resolve the matter with Mr. Geoff, the COO. Alternatively, he could have resigned. Therefore, his actions reveal his failure as the oversight authority in the company.

The root of these problems is the lack of a sovereign body in the company that would facilitate handling of such issues without the junior staffs fearing victimization. If trust had been created among the employees the firm could not have been sued. Brian sued the firm because according to him, there were no effective ways of solving internal problems in the company.

Measures that were instituted and why they failed

The aim of Kimball was to enhance its relationships with customers. It aimed at listening to and learning from employees and clients.  Additionally, the company wanted to enhance its approaches to conflict resolution. Nevertheless, the majority of the taken initiatives were unsuccessful because most staffs brought in by the CEO were from Meditron. Their aim was to implement what they had implemented at their former workplaces. Before the implementation of new strategies, working environments should be considered. Most of the strategies were not implemented. The view of the HR was that establishing a body that would oversee ethics was undermining the established channels and this could be problematic because there were issues that could pass without the management noticing them.

The proposed ethics strategy was opposed by several quotas. Essentially, employees could have trusted the strategy because confidentiality would have been retained when reporting issues. The CEO would have known what was happening in the company and take appropriate managerial or control measures. Training was delayed by the management until other issues emerged. This indicated the low ranking given to it and therefore it was never implemented.

All stakeholders ought to be involved in the development of strategies. The top management should also be involved instead of just giving them a report on what to implement as it happened in the company. The managers who opposed the strategies knew that they were bound to be sidelined. They also felt that the firm would not succeed since there were issues that could not be noticed.

Instead of postponing strategies’ implementation, it would have been wise for the board to make recommendations as a way of trying to reach a consensus on the best ways of handling ethical issues. It was evident that most executives of the company feared that the CEO could learn about their evils without their realization. There were also no ways provided by the strategies that the executives could implement while penalizing junior staffs. To deal with the problems effectively, the strategies ought to have presented a two-way technique.

Response to Kimball’s problems

Apart from being sued by an employee, Kimball is currently experiencing employees’ exodus. There is a need to establish a healthy working environment in the company where there is a trust between the executive and the employees. This enhances the resolution of small issues among groups instead of involving the senior management. Relationships and understandings are fostered by a healthy working environment between employees and customers. This enables a firm to increase and maintain its customer base.

Establishment of a body to oversee ethical issues in the company enables the junior staff to report ethical issues without fearing victimization. All people should be involved in the company’s senior management in the establishment of this body so that the needs of everybody can be articulated. An open discussion can enhance this because it makes the body legitimate. Sharing among employees and contribution is also enhanced when employees realize that the company takes care of their needs. A good company’s CEO is also important because he has to impose leadership skills on the people. He should not only show employees the right way but also solve issues without favoring anyone.

Employees are pressured to deliver by the company and this can make them engage in illegal deals in their attempt to hit targets so that they can get bonuses. This problem can be solved by creating a working environment that does not give employees unrealistic targets. The company ought to set targets that the employees can hit without straining. It is also apparent that the observation that the company’s mid-level executives had about ethics is different. What they force their juniors to follow is not what they follow. As such, it is vital for the company to sensitize the employees about the essence of observing ethics.

The company ought to invest in creating trust so that the employees can have a sense of being valued by the company. This will enhance the likelihood of junior staffs to report ethical misconduct. Employees with good ethics should be employed and retained by the company. Ethics are improved by informal reporting channels. Therefore, the company should encourage their use. Lastly, a hands-on approach should be taken by the leaders towards the proposed changes. This will enable them to understand the involved process. Senior leaders ought not to fear to make decisions that would streamline the firm.

The Leadership of Steven and Geoff

The concentration of Steven while serving as the company’s CEO was on the expansion of the company’s productivity and attraction of talented persons. This can be seen from the way the productivity of the company improved as well as when he employed staff members with success stories elsewhere. He employed Geoff who became the leader of the company’s operations while concentrating on establishing relationships. Nevertheless, this turned out to be a poor decision because it reduced his involvement in the operations of the company. Geoff had to perform more duties yet he had to travel to different countries. He had a weak relationship with junior employees as depicted by the way he refers Brian to Andrew, an act that exposes him to his boss’ victimization.

Image 2The plight of Brian shows the inability of the leadership to solve internal problems properly. Steven learned about internal problems through a legal suit after several employees had already left. This depicted his failure as a leader who was supposed to oversee the company’s activities. At least, he ought to have been familiar with the events that were happening in the company and start an investigation. Instead, he did not do that. Geoff was also absent when these issues emerged. Steven ought to have involved him since this issue was squarely under him. Going on to address it in his absence depicts a poor judgment.

Additionally, Steven did not implement the consulting company’s recommendations on the essence of enhancing work ethics. According to interviews, the employees lacked the freedom that they needed to expose any misconduct via formal channels. They only reported misconducts through a board or an independent individual that reported to the board or the CEO. Steven shelved the recommendations after he was advised to do so by Royce. He did this despite being aware of the essence of a healthy working environment. Steven declined to start a program for enhancing trust at the workplace which would have enhanced confidence among the junior staffs so they could report misconducts without fear. Instead, he exposed the junior staffs to their immediate bosses and this led to their vindication.

Geoff did not succeed in any way in addressing Brian’s issue until when the suit began. A solution would have been reached if he made appropriate consideration as well as try to use internal means to solve the issue. Unfortunately, he engaged in other things whose aim was to enhance productivity. He did not listen to the workers’ grievances or improve their working environment.

Research has revealed that firms whose focus is mostly on expansion do not consider work ethics. This is what happened in Kimball’s case. Both the COO and CEO did not consider ethics. They would have attracted as well as retained a good workforce by providing a better working environment. If Steven implemented the consulting firm’s recommendations, he would have earned the employees’ trust. Geoff ought to have paid attention to employees and this would have enabled him to solve internal problems of the company. Even with an open reporting channel in the company, only a few employees reported issues and the ones who reported, the raised issues were not addressed effectively. This shows that Geoff was difficult to reach.

The Role of the board

It was the responsibility of the board to perform the oversight role in every activity of the company. The board was also responsible for advising the management on the right actions to take in order to enhance the effective running of the company. It is also the responsibility of the board to employ and fire a CEO. These activities need close relationship and frequent evaluation. Evidently, the board was unaware of various activities of the company until when the CEO raised the issue following a suit by Brian. The board convened to address the issue that was about to ruin the firm’s reputation.

The board was not committed and this led to an issue that had to be solved by the court. This indicates that the board was not aware of the company’s activities. The board did not advise the CEO about the consulting firm’s recommendations and how they would improve ethics in the company. Had the board done this, the situation would have probably been averted. Steven was also hired by the board and it could have supported him to ensure that he ran the firm effectively. Instead, they left the CEO to run the company without bothering to check how he was dealing with the other employees or executives.

The board ought to have played an oversight role in regards to the activities of the company. This would have assisted in solving some internal problems because they would have been identified on time. The CEO would have also been advised accordingly. Illegal deals that were going on in the company would have been unearthed by the board through regular evaluation. The board would have also provided an alternative means for the employees to report issues without fearing victimization.

The firm is facing a lawsuit now and it is the responsibility of the management and the board to protect its name. The board is responsible for assisting the CEO in implementing proper channels for reporting any misconduct without fearing victimization. It is also important that the board meet regularly to evaluate the company’s performance.

Additionally, the board ought to investigate internal problems in order to restore employees’ trust. The board can be assisted by private investigators in order to comprehend the depth of the vice in the company. This way, the board will be able to propose appropriate measures that will improve its operations and performance

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