Ethics vs. Money

Grovelands’ Director, David Leen, comments on the ethical implications of a few recent sports situations and remarks on how to determine the ethical standards of candidates being placed in your business.

Ethics vs. MoneySome people say that when money came into sport the ideals of competition were
lost. I’m not so sure, especially when I see Lewis Hamilton in 2016 stung over his near miss on another world title, Andy Murray in tears at his defeat in the 2012 Wimbledon final or Steven Gerrard agonising over nearly winning the Premier League title in 2013/14. Are these sports people in the minority?

I apologise for sticking to sports but the recent stand-off between footballer Dimitri Payet and West Ham United F.C. has been fascinating to watch and read. First of all Payet decided to refuse to play for West Ham because he wanted to leave; in fact it was the first time I saw the phrase ‘Wantaway Star’. The management of the club refused to bend to his demands for a transfer and dropped him to train with reserves. There was a social media storm that branded him ‘disloyal’, ‘not fit to wear the badge’ and ‘not honouring his contract’; whilst other players commented that he wouldn’t ‘destroy the season’. All highly emotionally charged statements in my opinion.

Of course common sense prevailed and various clubs made offers for Payet so I would expect he will have left for France by the time you read this blog. Where are his ethics? Is he just looking out for himself? Would we all do the same in his shoes? The newspapers have been full of this kind of froth over the past few weeks including a similar case with Diego Costa at Chelsea F.C. wanting a long-term trip to China; he scored at the weekend so the fans have forgiven him, a change of tide within 48 hours.

One last sports related topic on Ethics vs. Money, promise. Maria Sharapova was issued a 2 year ban from playing professional tennis last year after testing positive for a banned substance, a decision that would have effectively ended her career. She appealed which resulted in the suspension being significantly reduced; a decision I cannot quite fathom. She’ll return with no ranking points and will require a number of wild cards to qualify for major tournaments. Was this a reasonable decision or did both parties need each other to prosper? For someone who is deemed a cheat by many I wonder if this change was based on ethics or finances.

Ethics, money and attitude can become opaque in the world of sport, but how does this apply to business? How do you decide who is the best fit for your company as well as the most qualified? As Jim Collins puts it in his seminal business book ‘Good to Great’, how do we “get the right people on your bus and the wrong people off?”

An increasingly important factor for our clients is hiring people with the right attitude over aptitude, a concept we like a lot. As recruiters this adds an extra layer of complexity to our job and at Grovelands we have developed, and will continue to develop, an array of tools and techniques to evaluate and assess softer skills such as ethics, attitude, problem solving, empathy, creativity and more. It is extraordinarily difficult to judge this in an alien environment like an interview or assessment centre where people aren’t always themselves.

We recently conducted an assessment day in Scotland where our client was keen to assess our candidates based on empathy. From the very beginning we worked with our client to refine our assessments to implement a robust evaluation process. We looked for consistencies throughout the recruitment cycle, taking note of who we considered to have ‘gamed’ the process and those that played a straight bat.

From the offset we noticed that some candidates struggled to articulate their understanding and appreciation of another person’s feelings, not because they were incapable but instead due to their nerves. To help determine their empathic approach we asked behavioural questions that drew on a tangible past experience to show how they connected with people and displayed compassion and understanding for another person’s position.

In another assessment day for another client we deployed the use of software called ‘Integrity Matters’ to better evaluate how ethically our candidates would engage in the workplace. Whilst the test did not determine if a candidate was ethical or not, it did help us highlight key ethical areas to be aware of and perhaps instil how to behave appropriately should a challenging situation arise.

Other techniques included asking suitable questions; here are a few examples of questions that might reveal an interviewee’s true thought patterns:

  • What have you seen in the past that compromised a companies’ ethics?
  • Customer confidentiality is important, how would you define this?
  • Tell me about a time when you were ethically challenged, how did you respond and what would you do differently now?
  • At what time would it be acceptable to lie to a customer or colleague on behalf of your line manager?
  • Which companies do you think are ethically focussed and get it right, and why?

Asking questions of this nature, alongside traditional interview questions will provide a reliable insight into a candidate’s point of view, how they work and how they might conduct themselves in your business.

We welcome your feedback and comments, but if you would like to contact us directly please call 01273 651 500 or email contactme@grovelands.co.uk. To keep up to date with our news and updates don’t forget to follow our social media channels and sign up to our newsletter.

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