The Growth and Formation of Individual Ethics Personal ethics materialize at an early age, and evolve throughout a person’s life based on many internal and external influences. These internal and external influences form the basis for each individual ethical system and determine how that system will interact with all the other individual ethical systems in which it will contact and interact within and outside of the professional environment.
Most individual’s ethical system will be similar but not a carbon copy of immediate family and friends because they have a strong influence on belief development and share many common experiences. Social interactions over a lifetime of associations in many diverse communal environments formulate the basis of the individual morals, norms, and beliefs. The closer the relationship the more likely it is to have a lasting effect on a person’s beliefs and morals. In the modern increasingly mobile workforce this makes the possibility of a group of employees with identical morals, norms, and beliefs remote.
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This causes management to be more sensitive to these differences when writing company policies ensuring they specifically dictate expectations instead of assuming the employee will already knows the proper behavior and consequences of his or her actions in an ethical situation. The workforce is only becoming more diverse, which makes understanding cultural differences between employees, management and company policy so vital when trying to establish an ethical work environment. Ethics is personal not some abstract theory. Individuals have hundreds of social interactions every day. Most are casual with little subtenant interaction.
The influence that determines a person’s moral compass does not come from these interactions. There must be a crisis, challenge, problem or serious interruption of the normal life pattern or comfort zone to influence the ethical system. Here is an example of someone who has lost a close child through a car accident or violent murder. The affected person changes at the core of his or her belief system. This change can manifest itself either positively or negatively. In some cases the affected individual will start a program to combat drunk driving as a way of resolving the disruption of him or her belief system.
The belief that if he or she obeyed the speed limit and other traffic rules his or her children would be safe. The belief or value shatters in an instant with the death of their loved one. The individual could become some kind of vigilante trying to punish all drunk drivers by seeking him or her while leaving a bar and running him or her off the road to protect other families. Most influencers are far more subtle than the extreme example I outlined. Here are a few more examples of more common influences. A parent grounds his or her child for staying out after curfew. The child then learns disobedience has a consequence.
Another would be a child receiving a reward for achieving good grades in school. The child then learns the value hard work and dedication in life. This one act of encouragement may not establish a norm, but with repeated positive and negative influences from the family and school this norm will become engrained in the child’s character. The definition of what a social norm is and how it influences character development throughout a person’s life. The website changing minds. org (2010) explains social norms as “the rules that a group uses for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors.
These rules may be explicit or implicit. ” The website changing minds. org (2010) further explains that “failure to stick to the rules can result in severe punishments, the most feared of which is exclusion from the group. A common rule is that the some norms must frequently be displayed; neutrality is seldom an option. ” These rules and codes weave themselves throughout the fabric of society. Many of the norms are accepted as second nature and not openly acknowledged until violated. Usually the violator is an outsider to that social group and is most likely unfamiliar with the norm they violated.
The group will most likely inform the violator of the accepted norm of the group, and the violator will have to alter their behavior to once again reach harmony with the group. Dealing with conflicts between competing values systems know more commonly as an ethical or moral dilemma. This is when an individual confronted with two courses of action in which the result will violate a value, norm, or belief regardless of which choice is made. For example: A person who works at a restaurant as a cook. The individual has access to the food storage area and walk in freezer after hours unsupervised.
He is way behind on his mortgage and other bills because of low wages and poor personal financial management. His family is suffering because of the financial problems, and often lacks enough food to sustain themselves. The individual contemplates taking food home from work without the owner’s knowledge after the restaurant closes and everyone have left. He observes the restaurant full of customers’ and the restaurant full of and rationalizes he can steal without detection. He also throws out food every day prepared in excess of what the restaurant can sell.
He must know decide if his norm of protecting and supporting his family by stealing outweighs the social and personal norm that stealing under any circumstances is wrong. If he chooses to refrain from stealing his family will continue to suffer, or if he decides to steal the food he may be caught and terminated that would make the situation even worse. The man forced to break a personal or societal norm with either choice. Norm, beliefs, customs, values, culture, traits and traditions all work together to shape an individual’s character. This will determine where a person goes to church, or if he or she even believe in a god.
It also can shape what kind of an employee a person will become. It can also influence whether a person is compassionate or not, if he or she decide to attend college or not, or if he or she will live in the same town his or her whole lives or change residences frequently. These values will help people decide if it is acceptable come to work late, or be punctual. Determine if people obey the law or work against it. Determines if a person will stop to help another person in need or walk right on by without a care in the world for the other’s well-being.
Values, beliefs, and norms affect every aspect of a person’s life. Norms also can be conditional. Based on the group the individual finds his or her self with at any given time will determine obedience to the norm. Some people act totally different depending on which group they are with at the time. Humans condition their selves to coexist with each other and maintain harmony in societal groups. The group or organization collectively set the rules, and society follows to fit in. Reference Perkins and Berkowitz (1986),”Social Norms”. Retrieved from http://changingminds. org/explanations/theories/social_norms. htm