As an employee in an organization, it may happen that you are faced with a situation that puts your ethics to the test. In order to help prepare you overcome those forces that might prevent you from reaching your ethical leadership potential, I want you to review several of the ethical dilemmas below, which are based upon actual situations employees have found themselves facing.
Quality or Quantity
When Incentives Don’t Match Your Values
Noah Rickling, Hackworth Business Ethics Fellow â13
Frank, a recent Santa Clara University graduate, recently landed a sales job for a Silicon Valley tech company. He is part of a team that qualifies sales opportunities. After talking to potential customers, Frank decides whether or not they are quality leads. If they are, he refers them to an account executive (AE) to close the deal, saving the company precious time in money in avoiding low probability contracts. If not, he will not pass them on and the sales opportunity is not pursued. Account executives expect prescreening of potential leads in order to maximize their time. Each referral Frank passes to the AE is added to a tally that counts toward his target monthly total, and there is a monetary bonus for all sales staff members who reach their monthly quota.
This creates some controversy among Frank’s team members, who are faced with conflicting incentives; pass on low quality leads to hit your quota, or focus on quality and risk missing the monthly target. The pressure to “hit your number” comes from both the monetary incentive and management, who benefit when their sales team hits their quotas. To further complicate matters, since each sales representative self-reports how many leads they passed along, they can inflate their numbers in order to reach the monthly target goal: a common occurrence among Frank’s coworkers.
As Frank tries to adjust to his new job, he is finding it difficult to balance his own moral compass with the pressure of hitting his monthly number.
How would you handle the dilemma between hitting the quota and submitting quality work you stand behind? What factors would weigh into your decision? What solutions would best solve this dilemma?
After reading several of these mini cases, pick one that interests you and address the following questions and explain.
- What are the major elements of the situation influencing your thoughts, decisions, and (hypothetical) actions?
- How would you respond in the situation?
- Why you chose that response.
If possible, please choose one that has not been posted (or only has a couple posts rather than dozens). Please post your initial response in 250 – 350 words