I was once employed by one of the oldest and widely known bank called Barclays Bank. I held the sales representative position and used to sell the bank's different products although I had specialized in selling accounts. This field was and still is a very challenging one and does not need people who are faint hearted. Anyone who has done sales of any kind at one time in their times will agree with me at it is very challenging to be very truthful or open if at all one wants to make any sales.
The business like any other required that all employees be truthful in selling a product. Any miss-selling or what is called 'hiding of the whole truth' was not tolerated by the management. One would either be warned or faced a disciplinary action which could lead to ones loss of his/her job.
The organization faced different ethical issues depending on the department. In the enquiry section, one could not tell or show a customer their balance no matter how much you knew them without seeing their national identity cards or their passports depending on what they registered themselves with. This was very challenging especially since some regular customers could turn up without their identification documents since they knew they were well known and could get the tellers to do them such small favors.
Another ethical issue was that one could not tell or show a customer another customer's bank balance so that they could not have a bouncing cheque. This kind of misconduct could earn one a direct ticket of searching for a new job. This is still a challenge even today. One had no option but to speak to the customers politely and courteously no matter how rude or arrogant they were or are. Speaking rudely no matter the situation could not be tolerated. This included all departments.
The sales department faced the most ethical issues since the employees come into contact with the customers most of the time. As mentioned earlier, an employee had to sell a product correctly explaining all the features found in that product whether they portrayed a negative side of the product or its positive side. Most of the products were quite expensive to the average customer in comparison with the businesses' competitors but still the management expected one to make a minimum of three sales in a day.
The only person allowed to write on the application papers was the customer except for the official use part. This was challenging as most customers could just mess up the paper hence cause one to keep going back to the customer for a counter sign or with fresh application foams. An inconsistence of the signatures also required either a counter sign or another signature which was sometimes very cumbersome. All this would really tempt one to either write the application forms themselves but only ask for the customer's signature or some would even take the risk of faking the customer's signature where a counter sign was needed.
Identification and address confirmation documents were required by the management when one was applying for any of the products offered. The address confirmation document was quite challenging to get and so a form was to be given to be filled in and signed by either an employer, lawyer, doctor or a person known by the customer having a Barclays account. This could also prove challenging as most average people did not know these people hence it was sometimes tempting to get a person not really known by a customer but holding a Barclays account.
The stake holders wanted or the customers treated fairly. This meant that a customer had the right to buy a product that they well knew without any misconceptions or misunderstandings. A customer's complains of how they were told that a product did not have any ledger fees only to come back to check their account and find out that some money had been deducted from their account was not taken lightly. Any misconduct especially where a customer was involved disgraced the brand of Barclays which the stakeholders really valued and tried to keep where it has reached.
In businesses or work places, personal ethical issues include being honest, being discriminated against, fraud, theft, favoritism, just to mention but a few (Ferrell, Fraedrich & Ferrell 124). Repairing a car and then telling a potential buyer that it was not involved in an accident when accident when asked, is giving false evidence (Jennings 10). These are seen in one way or another in the business. The employees should be encouraged to say the truth and strict measures taken on any person delivering the wrong information to the customers.
Though the results are important, an employee should be recognized and appreciated if they deliver the right kind of information without necessarily winning over a potential customer. This will encourage every employee so that they do not feel that their efforts are going into waste.
The management should also include cheaper products for the average person so that the employees end up making a sale and thus earn at the end of the day for most organizations and businesses pay their sales people with commissions including Barclays.
The management can question their employees about the challenges they go through when in the field. They can mostly dwell on the challenges that would lead the sales people to behave unethically in the field. They should not only ask, write them down then just keep making empty promises about making improvements or looking into them, but they should also make visible actions that are seen.
They can collect this information by having meetings where there are one on one talks, having a suggestion box where the employees can drop in their comments, complains or suggestions just to mention but a few.
There are other alternative solutions to the dilemma. The employees can be given adequate training and frequent updating of any changes that are done to a specific product. When I was working in the bank, the passing of information from the concerned managers to the employees in the field was not good. We could get the updates of products many days after they had been updated and this first came to us through rumors before they were confirmed officially.
Another alternative solution though negative, is to hide the truth and not talk about all the negative aspects of the product, and pray that you are not caught. Telling a regular customer their account balance without the necessary identification document required can also be done as long as one is not caught.
There are consequences for each of the alternative solutions. Training may cause the business to incur more costs. The direct managers may seem as if they are looked down upon or even form internal conflicts if the higher management knows that they are not delivering reports as expected. Another consequence of the alternative is ones loss of job and a bad recommendation letter that might no enable one to get a good job in future.
Behaving unethically is unacceptable in any setting. There is no one who wants somebody who cannot be honest or courteous. Every one wants to be associated with honesty and good morals.
All the problems incurred ethically can be solved if there is cooperation between the management and the employees. Some rules and regulations should be adjusted in order to accommodate an employee's working conditions. In my case, I did not see the need for an address confirmation document. The competitors did not ask for this document which made the work easier for their employees. A lot of potential customers also pulled back because of all the documentation needed while application had been made easier in other banks.
There could also have been the creation of affordable and accommodative products for the average customer. People would say that my employer was very expensive and only went for the wealthy which would easily dissuade a customer. Cheaper products would attract more customers hence not tempt the employees from miss- selling.
Being raised in a Christian family and my father being a clergyman, I could not get over the feeling of lying to someone just to close a sale. I knew the feeling of being lied to and I was ready to make someone go through that. I had also seen customers get very disappointed and angry when they found out that their accounts had been deducted some money that they had not anticipated. This made me make sure that I sold my products rights though sometimes it meant going home without making a sale.
I would also go into the trouble of getting all the necessary documentation which sometimes took a lot of time and made the managers angry especially those who were only focused on getting the results. Though it may not pay immediately, conducting oneself ethically in whatever setting will bear fruit in the long run. One is able to work and walk confidently without fear of being caught because of some mischievous thing they did.