In life we face moral dilemmas all the time. Some of these very dilemmas happen in the work place. A moral dilemma is like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Essentially it is trying to choose an outcome that is the lesser of two evils. It is picking the better choice of two wrongs. Any one who has ever been faced with these types of issues knows that choosing a solution that causes the least damage is frustrating and can be an extremely complicated task. It is always best to analyze the situation and identify the pros and cons of the solutions before making a decision.
A few years ago I was hired in a warehouse as a pick and pack employee. In this position, I helped two people get a job at this company, a very close friend of mine and my cousin. I did my job and I liked it. I wanted to learn other positions, so I was cross trained. I was reliable, my work ethic propelled me forward and I soon became a floor supervisor. With my new title I was now over my cousin and friend. As a supervisor I created work schedules and executed plans and teams to get various jobs done. Eventually the economy took a dip and like so many other companies we felt it. Production wasn’t producing as much work and we needed to lay of people. First it was the part timers, and then we had to make more cuts.
This is where my moral dilemma comes into play; I had to lay off people. I had to follow orders from my manager, but I was empathetic to my family and friend. I had to make the decision to lay off my friend or my cousin. Growing up I was taught that family sticks together and you always have your friends back, but now I couldn’t do both.
First, I didn’t want to choose between the two, second, I didn’t know which to even choose. I felt like I would be letting someone down. I talked to my manager and asked if the lay offs were necessary, and there were. I talked to him about possibly making the one full time position two part time positions. I thought that this may help the both and I won’t have to let one go, or one might just decide to walk away and the decision wouldn’t be mine to make, but life isn’t that easy, a cut had to be made.
There were too many angles to look at and my options were limited. My friend needed his job to help take care of his mom, but for that very reason, he wasn’t very reliable, and if we are cutting the team, I need someone there everyday. If my friend did stay on and I let go of my cousin my family would be so disappointed in me. Now if I kept my cousin, my cousin would have his position. He is dependable and knows his job, my family won’t be upset, but he is a slow worker. I need speed if we are cutting our team. By keeping my cousin my friend would not be able to support his mom.
I wasn’t thinking about myself, but I started thinking about the company and the rest of the team I would be working with. We needed a strong dependable team player. After talking with my manager I decided that this was a no win situation for someone and it had to be done. I ultimately let go of my friend because I needed reliability. By making this choice I also had to go over things with my cousin about picking up the pace. I explained how we needed to be a fast and efficient team. It worked, there weren’t any hard feelings and he was able to collect unemployment and take his mom to her appointments and eventually found a job working the night shift that allowed him the freedom he needed.
Life is all about choices. Some are easier than others. We choose what to wear, what to say, where to work. Some choices are not so easy. We have to face the consequences of our actions from the choice that we made. For the most part, we all want to make morally acceptable choices. But who is to say my morals are better than yours or yours better than his? The point is to find the problem, reflect and commit to an action that fixes the problem.