Ethically, what would you do?
Death by a thousand rules
It’s 3 a.m., the middle of another sleepless night, and Jill Finnington has finally had enough. “Steve, you’re so miserable these days!” she tells her husband. “How long can this go on?”
“It’s work,” he admits. “You know, the new director. Never seen anybody quite like her. Doesn’t trust us. Oversees all our work. Demands to be cc’d on all direction we give staff and contractors.”
Steve Finnington is a retired logistics officer who was happy to be able to stay at DND by moving into a civilian job as head of a procurement team five years ago. Happy, that is, until the new director showed up last year. She was newly promoted, said to be handpicked by the DG.
She quickly became known as a total micro-manager. She routinely bypasses Steve and her other managers by assigning work directly to subordinates three and four levels down the chain of command. She has created so many new rules and procedures that almost every project is now stalled in the bottleneck at her office door.
Steve and his fellow section heads agree that the new boss does not respect them or trust their ability to manage. The increased stress is taking its toll. Some of Steve’s subordinates have left, creating an experience deficit on his team. Worse, Steve spends so much of his day hiring replacement staff that he barely has time to manage his regular workload. He and his fellow managers have explained all these concerns to the director but nothing has changed.
Frustrated and discouraged, Steve is not sleeping well. He knows he’s a good leader but he thinks a lot lately about his options. Should he submit his concerns higher up, in writing? Try to endure, in the hope the director will move on? Or start looking elsewhere? The last is not an attractive option because Steve has spent his whole career in DND procurement and does not want to leave.
Suppose you were having a small group discussion on this scenario. Try to identify the ethical issues involved here.
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