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Honesty vs Self-Interest at Work

Scenario

Joe O'Toole took over a small business with good staff relationships, delivering educational products and services to a satisfied clientele.

During his first year in the business, cracks began to appear in the workings of the business. Though he was a good man with a genial manner, he had very poor  skills in administration.

A year into his term, Joe had to employ a new deputy. Stella seemed like the answer to prayer. She was efficient, she followed up on details and was willing to work long hours. She compensated for many of Joe's shortcomings. The trouble was that her dictatorial manner put other members of staff on edge. She made decisions on their behalf and overrode their authority. Morale declined and several well-respected staff members left.

After three years the company was struggling because of the loss of staff and because the people who had stayed were unhappy with the efficient but overbearing deputy. Moreover, many of the firm's clients missed the staff who had resigned and had taken their business elsewhere.

Stella eventually decided to apply for another position. She approached Joe for a reference. But he found himself in a quandary. He knew that she compensated for his shortcomings and that he would miss the administrative support she provided. On the other hand he was aware of the difficulties she had created and of how the business had suffered overall.

Should he allow his own need to retain her services colour what he wrote in the reference? Was this an opportunity to dispense with a difficult staff member? Could he, should he, be totally honest?

The following scenario allows you to explore the viewpoints of a range of different people.

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