When the Competition Between Employees Become Unethical Behaviour

When the Competition Between Employees Become Unethical Behaviour
By Ahmad Amirali

In any organisation, either education or finance, the employee usually engaged in the sense of competition where they project their skills and competencies to prove that they are eligible for promotions than another employee. However, sometimes this competition turns into a fierce struggle of survival among employees and survival means anything will be permissible to survive the time. Similarly, this trend is also common in the teaching profession as well where teachers engage in aggressive behaviour to reach their higher goals, but sometimes this competition again leads to a survival mode where this struggle ended up in unethical behaviour. The question is what makes employees engage with this survival mode or in unethical conduct?

According to REF, competition pushes people towards their goals and motivates them to improve their performance, while the respect that comes from winning can give a significant morale boost. Winning also increases dopamine and testosterone levels which increases the level of confidence which in turn increases our chances of success.

What Are the Driving Forces That Make Us Unethical During in Our Work Journey?

One of the driving forces is our need to win that make us choose unethical pathways. For example, teachers who need to reach their project targets for the term, employees who have an intense rivalry etc. The unchanged reality of this type of competition is that there will always be several winning slots, sometimes even just one, with significant stakes such as career advancement and money.

Often, the driving force behind this intense competition is knowing that our performance is being assessed in comparison to our co-workers. In the workplace forced rankings, the vitality curve and stacking systems are frequently used to judge performance (Source: REF). According to Tzini & Jain, the performance evaluation programmes which are based on peer comparison actually promote unethical behaviour. Organisations continue to debate the advantages and disadvantages of comparison-based performance management systems. However relative comparisons and here to stay so what can be done to limit the temptations of ethical breaches that come with this competitive comparative setting? Tzini & Jain suggest consequential reflection: this involves urging employees to reflect on both the positive and negative consequences of the decisions they make. In another study conducted by Tzini & Jain, they found that participants who took a minute to write out the potential effects were less willing to act in an unethical manner. In another study they conducted, they found that the participants who were encouraged to consider the consequences were significantly less likely to take the wrong action than those who were not.

How to Avoid Unethical Behaviour During Our Workplace Competition

About ethics, excessive competition or struggle to survive can lead to a self-centred attitude, focused on the benefits for ourselves and ignoring the consequences. Tzini & Jain suggest that leaders try the following:

Self-Reflection: Both employees and teams to frequently stop and reflect before making critical ethically charged decisions. Instead of diagnosing decisions after the fact, take the time to think about their positive and negative consequences early on.

Sharing of Practices: Regularly get team members together to share any decisions that will be made shortly. Let employees analyse them, play devil’s advocate, and raise possible problems with various stakeholders.

According to Tzini & Jain, this works because it is cheap, effective and incredibly easy to implement within an organisation. It also extremely unlikely that it will face strong objection from employees. Their research has shown that psychological interventions can be an essential part of any organisation’s ethical and cultural values.

Do you ever experience any completing at your workplace? How it goes and what lesson you’ve learned? Share your thoughts in below comment box.

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