Workplace Ethical Dilemma

Table of Content

Most large organizations have implemented policies that dictate how they will conduct employee relations. One area of employee relations is the giving performance evaluations. In this paper, the moral and ethical issues faced by managers giving performance evaluations will be addressed. The relationship between social issues and ethically responsible management practices in the giving of performance evaluations will be discussed.

A workplace example of an ethical issue involving a performance evaluation will be provided. The legal aspects that governed the ethical issue will be identified and examined. Trevino & Nelson (2006) state that performance evaluations are given in two forms. The first form of a performance evaluation is the formal, written evaluation of an employee’s performance during a prescribed period, which is usually a year. The second form of a performance evaluation is the informal giving of continuous feedback to an employee. Managers give this type of performance evaluation throughout the year.

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By using this method, managers communicate goals and measure the employee’s performance against those goals by giving continuous feedback. Managers will encounter many opportunities to give continuous feedback to their employees. Managers should recognize their employees for exemplary performance. Managers should also give their employees guidance when they are falling short of company goals. The objective of continuous feedback is to encourage employees to continue good behavior and correct substandard performance before it creates a larger problem for the company.

Because employees respond to being praised for excellent work, giving positive feedback will bolster the employee’s confidence and drive him to maintain the same level of performance. Written performance evaluations Performance evaluations are a necessary part of being a manager; however, according to Trevino & Nelson (2006), most managers avoid giving performance evaluations because recognizing an employee’s achievements is easier than discussing his shortcomings. Although discussing an employee’s shortcomings can be uncomfortable, performance evaluations are one of the most important tools available to a manager.

Performance evaluations provide a forum for managers to discuss openly and honestly the employee’s performance during the rating period. Performance evaluations should recognize and employee achieving company goal sand deficiencies in the employee’s performance should be addressed. If a manager has been giving continuous feedback as issues arise, the employee will not be surprised by the contents of a performance evaluation and will be open to discussion. Such a discussion should be devoid of emotion and be focused on the issues at hand. Moral and ethical issues

A manager has a moral and ethical responsibility to be honest with his employee during continuous feedback. The manager should praise this employee when doing well and meeting objectives. If an employee is performing below standards, the manager must approach the employee and discuss the issue with dignity and respect. Written performance evaluations should be an honest reflection of the employee’s performance during the rating period. Managers must use caution when preparing the performance evaluation and limit references to substandard performances to those that can be supported by additional documentation.

Because the written performance evaluation becomes part of the employee’s personnel file, the manager has a moral and ethical responsibility to rate all employees who perform the same work equally and not base the evaluation on any biases he may have or conflicts he may have experienced with the employee. Social issues and ethically responsible management Organizations must provide a safe place for their employees to work and their customers to conduct business. Trevino & Nelson (2006) stated that the most basic of employee rights is the right to work in a safe environment.

Organizations have an ethical responsibility to their employees to provide a work environment that is free of safety hazards and are required to inform their employees of the risks of performing particular jobs. Organizations are equally as responsible to ensure the safety of their customers. Managers must develop and maintain an inspection schedule to ensure the ongoing safety of both employees and customers.  The Tops Supermarket employs over 15,000 people. Because of the large number of employees, tardiness is inevitably a problem. For the issue of tardiness to be reflected on a performance evaluation, the tardiness must have supporting documentation from prior occurrences.

Supermarket employees are unionized, certain procedures must be followed to write a negative performance evaluation about an employee. Throughout any performance evaluation or reprimand, the employee has the right to have a union representative present. The employee may invoke this right at any stage of the discussion. Managers must be cognizant of this right and terminate the discussion upon the employee’s assertion of this right.

The evaluation will resume when a convenient time can be arranged to have a union representative present. Employees also have the right to file a grievance against Tops Supermarket if they believe a negative performance evaluation has been given without merit. The grievance process is long and arduous, so using performance evaluations appropriately is crucial. An employee at Tops Supermarket that worked in my store was applying for a promotion. The application process occurs in two steps. The first step is for the employee to take an examination that measures general knowledge.

The second step is for the employee’s manager to complete an appraisal of promotablility that summarizes the employee’s performance in his current position. The manager will rate the employee from one to four in a number of areas, with the four equaling below average performance (Joselit 2008). This employee’s manager used this opportunity to give the employee the negative performance evaluation she believed the employee deserved without having a face-to-face discussion about its contents. The manager rated the employee a four in two separate categories.

Getting one “below average” rating is enough to disqualify an applicant from being placed on the list of available candidates, and this manager gave two. The employee and manager had experienced personality conflicts throughout the rating period, but the manager never addressed any deficiencies in the employee’s performance with any form of feedback or discipline. The employee was expecting to receive a fair evaluation of her work performance without any personal feelings being reflected in the appraisal. The manager allowed her personal feelings to interfere with her ability to evaluate objectively the employee’s work performance.

When the employee received notification from the human resources department that she was not eligible for promotion based upon the evaluation written by her manager, the employee filed a grievance against her manager. The grievance process took six months to complete, and the manager was reprimanded for writing such an evaluation without supporting documentation, but she was not required to amend the evaluation. However, the employee remained less than satisfied with this result. Because the promotional period is brief, the employee missed the opportunity to advance her career and was forced to wait for the next examination. Transfer opportunities are rare, so the two remained manager and subordinate. The relationship between the two had sustained permanent damage, and the animosity affected the entire department.


Ethically responsible management is important to an organization. Reinforcing ethical behavior and correcting unethical behavior with continuous feedback and formal evaluations are an integral part of managing employees. Managing ethics reduces unnecessary costs from loss of productivity. Placing an emphasis on ethical behavior will allow an employee, a manager, and an organization to remain competitive and successful.


  1. Trevino, L. K. , & Nelson, K. A. (2006). Managing business ethics: Straight talk about how to do it right (4th ed. ). [University of Phoenix Custom Edition e-Text],
  2. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. Retrieved from University of Phoenix, website. Joselit, D. , (2008), UFCW Local 99, Collective Bargaining, Grievance Procedure, Retrieved on July 3, 2010 from www. ufcw99. com/collectivebargainingnew. htm


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Workplace Ethical Dilemma. (2018, May 13). Retrieved from

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