Salett’s role as the corporate controller enhances his ability to address the challenges that he is facing in two ways. First, the new position gives him more authority to make and implement decisions that will improve honesty in the company. In this regard, he can focus on introducing new accounting standards that will prevent the accounting officers from distorting the company’s financial records. Secondly, the new role will improve Salett’s ability to influence his juniors and executives. Thus, he can use his excellent leadership skills to inspire his colleagues to focus on integrity rather than dishonesty.
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The new position also presents constraints and complications that might prevent Salett from addressing his challenges. To begin with, insisting on honesty in reporting is likely to create tensions between Salett and the company’s executives who believe that dishonesty is a normal practice. The resulting poor work relationship between Salett and his colleagues will limit his ability to promote a culture of honesty. Moreover, the new position complicates the problem by making Salett more responsible for the company’s performance. Several stakeholders might be hurt if Salett decides to report the true performance of the company. The stakeholders include the company’s shareholders, employees, and executives. For instance, Salett and executives might be fired due to the company’s underperformance. Some employees might lose their jobs as the company reduces its workforce to avoid losses. Additionally, the shareholders will not achieve a favorable valuation for their company if the financial records show that it is underperforming.
The Right Time
The right time to voice and act on one’s values refers to the moment when an individual feels empowered to articulate and to find solutions to his concerns. The individual should have adequate skills and experience to discuss his concerns with others without causing divisions in the organization. Moreover, an individual’s ability to act on his values depends on the extent to which he can influence decisions and strategies. Thus, Salett needs adequate skills, experience, and ability to influence the company’s decisions in order to voice and act on his values.
Tactics and Avenues Available to Salett
First, given Salett’s senior position, he can promote ethical behavior in the finance department by addressing the causes of dishonesty in reporting. Unlike a junior controller, Salett is able to influence the company’s decisions and strategies that determine its financial performance. Thus, he should help the company to develop strategies that will improve its financial performance. As a result, distorting the accounting records in order to present a favorable financial position will not be necessary.
Second, Salett can voice his values by learning to address the reasons and rationalizations that promote dishonesty in the company. Generally, most of the reasons and rationalizations that are used to justify unethical practices are predictable. Thus, Salett can focus on developing and practicing to deliver persuasive scripts and counterarguments to inspire his colleagues to avoid unethical behaviors.
Third, Salett should focus on building relationships within the company’s chain of command in order to share his ethical concerns. He should make his colleagues comfortable and confident to articulate and to find solutions to unethical behaviors by normalizing the occurrence of values conflicts. This will enable Salett to win the support of the executives in order to enhance honesty.
What Salett Should Do Right Now
Salett should not wait until he assumes the role of the corporate controller in order to take action. He should start taking corrective measures immediately to eliminate dishonesty in financial reporting. Taking actions such as investigating the extent to which dishonesty is being practiced in the company will improve Salett’s understanding of the problem. As a result, he will be able to develop appropriate solutions in time to promote honesty upon assuming his new role. One of the actions he can take immediately is to take up the issue with the CEO. His former boss is not likely to provide meaningful support since cases of dishonesty have been occurring under his watch. However, the CEO is likely to take immediate action to promote honesty in order to protect the company’s image.
As he raises the issue, Salett’s message should focus on questioning the company’s reporting strategy. Taking a stand on what should be done to improve honesty will eliminate opportunities for discussing alternative solutions to the problem. However, questioning the strategy will enable Salett to explain the risks of dishonesty and to suggest solutions that can be adopted to address it. Thus, he should respond to the argument that other companies are doing the same thing by explaining to the management that honest reporting will enable them to address the company’s weaknesses rather than avoiding them by distorting records. Given who he is, Salett is likely to resign if the company fails to address his concerns. This perspective is based on the fact that he values effective leadership that promotes integrity and value-driven organizational culture.