Hold Onto Your Tie: Dilbert Teaches Ethics

The companies with the most successful "ethical" bottom lines, those that keep a consistent focus on integrity, often give their employees ethics training.

Some give seminars, others hand out audiovisual packets.

Lockheed Martin, a large defense contractor, makes a game out of ethics training.

The "Ethics Challenge" board game features Dilbert comic-strip characters who make progress as players answer ethics questions.

Workers average an hour playing the game once a year. That may not sound like much, but it involves reaching all Lockheed Martin's 170,000 employees around the globe.

Some of the dilemmas:

1. In the presence of other employees (including supervisors, visiting managers, and peers), your manager "chews you out" in abusive, demeaning terms. What do you do?

A. Loudly deny the accusations.

B. Take the "chewing out" but contact the manager later in private to bring the issue to a conclusion.

C. Interrupt the manager to stop the public outburst and ask to finish the discussion in private.

D. Call the next level manager or ethics office to report the incident.

2. The brother-in-law of your boss works for him - and lately seems to be getting the easy assignments. You've also noticed that he is driving a new car and bragging about a pay raise. Should you:

A. Talk with your human resources representative and ask for some investigation.

B. Go to the next level of management above your boss and explain your observations.

C. Ignore it. It's none of your business.

D. Confront the brother-in-law and ask him about his raise.

3. Your supervisor directs you not to inspect flight hardware but to stamp it off as having been inspected. Do you:

A. Comply.

B. Do not comply, and ask your supervisor why he or she has given you the instructions.

C. Report your concerns to the supervisor's manager.

D. Report your concerns to the human resources, ethics, or legal office.

Scoring: Although each question has a best answer, you can still score points with other answers.

1. A: 0 points (Two wrongs don't make a right.) B: 3 (Partial solution but you shouldn't have to take this.) C: 5 (Best move - if you can pull it off.) D: 4 (The next best move if C doesn't work.)

2. A: 5 (Yes! It's not only a compensation issue, it may be a conflict of interest.) B: 3 (A viable alternative.) C: 0 (If you think there's a problem, do something.) D: 0 (Ignores the root problem.)

3. A: 0 (Never acceptable.) B: 5 (Bringing your concern out into the open should clear up misunderstandings.) C: 4 (If you're sure you understood the supervisor's order, inform management.) D: 3 (Good solution if B and C don't work.)

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