Your city workforce has been experiencing a rash of ethical lapses

4.8 ethics and Performance evaluations

Your city workforce has been experiencing a rash of ethical lapses. It seems as if nearly everyone, from the janitorial staff to the department managers to the deputy directors, has had an ethics miscue over the past year. As the director of human resources, you feel strongly that it is time to put an ethics component in the annual evaluation of hourly workers and managerial/professional employees. You realize, of course, that your boss must agree and begin to think about how you will make the case to evaluate the ethical behavior of employees. Ah, you have it, why not collect information from cities like yours to identify what others are doing? After a few weeks of telephone calls and e-mails, you discover that very little is being done, but you do find one municipality that has an ethics component in the annual evaluation of the city manager, the city clerk, and the city attorney. The evaluation instrument asks the evaluator to rate the city manager/clerk/attorney as “Excellent,” “Fully Satisfactory,” “Satisfactory,” or “Unsatisfactory” in response to the statement: “Conducts self in accordance with the ethical standards of the office of Charter Officer.” Disappointed by what you learn, you decide to form a committee to draft language that could be placed on the form to evaluate professional/management personnel. You decide to do the same thing with the hourly employees’ evaluation language but at a later date. The committee takes their assignment to heart and produces the following set of evaluative statements:

Your city workforce has been experiencing a rash of ethical lapses

  1. Demonstrates an ethical approach in the discharge of duties.

 2. Displays ethical behavior—promotes an environment that is open, fair, tolerant, trustful, and respectful. Values public interest over self-interest and is accountable.

 3. Clearly understands and communicates ethical practices, policies, and goals relevant to the community.

 4. Shows respect for the views of others, takes pride in work products, places public interest over own self-interest.

 5. Demonstrates integrity in all aspects of work.

 6. Adheres to the city’s ethics code.

 7. Demonstrates a clear ability to identify, evaluate, and resolve issues related to ethics. 8. Demonstrates sound ethical judgment and encourages ethical behavior in others.

 9. Complies with rules and laws defined by the city Personnel Manual and professional standards and conducts self with integrity while avoiding undue influence.

10. Displays proper attitude toward organizational transparency and has sufficient knowledge of city’s ethical standards.

11. Demonstrates ethical judgment as defined by the city code of ethics or applicable professional standards.

Discussion Questions

1. Which of these eleven statements do you like the best? Like the least? Why?

2. Rank order three statements, with one being the best.

 3. Would the list differ in any significant manner for hourly employees?

4. In forming the committee to draft language to be placed on the performance evaluation, what should be the key criteria for membership?

 5. Do you anticipate resistance from the workforce about including an ethics component in the annual evaluation? Why or why not?

 6. Do you believe that the ethical performance of an employee can be evaluated fairly and accurately? Why or why not?

 7. What do you say to persuade your boss that the city should place your preferred statement on the annual performance evaluation form for managerial/ professional staff?