What’s the most on fire you’ve ever been? The most on fire I’ve ever been was at one point in my career. I had been promoted to a new and exciting group within the company. The group had been given the task to travel their territory and consolidate the inventory that was scattered throughout the territory. The branch managers were basically hiding their inventory in ‘secret warehouses’ . This had added to the company’s costs. I had to travel throughout my territory, have my truckers load up the computers and accessories, make presentations to the branch managers, and various other tasks. It was a wonderful time in my career. The team would gather in various cities around the country for quarterly meetings, compare notes and strategies and have a fabulous time together.
our cause and task kept us all fired up. We were all young in our careers and very idealistic. This mindset just fed on itself and we became very close friends and were loyal to each other and the company. I absolutely LOVED my job and thoroughly enjoyed the travel, the public speaking, the inventory tracking, and our cause. That mindset and commitment carried over to all areas of my life and is with me still. When I job hunt, I seek that same sort of job, company, and mindset. I have to say, the job was life-changing. It filled my needs for idealism, it reinforced my commitment to integrity, and taught me that it is essential to not compromise my ethics. Years later when I was working at another company a number of us were expected to put false journal entries through at the end of the quarter. These entries inflated the quarterly revenue [by about 15%]. The other analysts on the team were going to submit their entries. When I told them I wasn’t going to because it was wrong, some of them were stunned that I would even think of doing that. They figured that they wouldn’t get in trouble because they were only doing what they had been told to do.
When I told them that that wouldn’t hold up in court, and wasn’t a valid excuse anyway, one of the other analysts decided not to submit his entries. I went to my supervisor and said I wouldn’t submit the false journal entries. He said ‘well, you will have to explain it to the manager’. I then went to my manager [Tony] and said i wouldn’t submit illegal entries, and that I would not compromise my ethics. He said, “What if I said that if you do not submit the entries I will fire you?”. Without hesitation i said “Then I would be very disappointed in you”. He looked at me in a very bemused way and said “YOU would be disappointed in ME?” “Yes, I would. I assumed you were an honest and ethical man—and would never ask me to do something that is wrong.”
Of course, the order for the false journal entries was from way above Tony. He looked at me and said “I hadn’t thought about whether it was right or wrong”. He gathered up my paperwork, and said “Heck—let Harry [the VP] submit the entries himself. Come to think of it, I’m not signing them either!”
This was the time the integrity of the first work experience I wrote about in this posting had a direct influence on this last one. Through the first experience I came to realize that you are responsible for maintaining ethical behavior and think through what you have been told to do. Your supervisors can be misguided or unethical. Just going along automatically doing what you have been told to do without thinking it through is NOT acceptable. I came to see how it is that the people in Nixon’s cabinet all just went along following orders. The compromise of ethics happens a little bit at a time. Fired up? Yes, I became fired up about organizational behavior and ethics. These are subjects that fascinate me to this day.