Professional worrying about how to handle a workplace dilemma

Can You Handle These Tricky Workplace Dilemmas?

We’ve published a series of career advice articles for administrative employees on how to stay professional in the workplace. If you work in an office, you might find any one of these applicable to your day-to-day as well.

One of the International Association of Administrative Professionals’ core values is integrity: “Demonstrated by honesty, accountability and ethical behavior consistent with an abiding respect for the dignity and value of individuals.” Sounds simple enough, but administrative professionals can easily find themselves stuck between following directions with a can-do attitude and strictly adhering to the company’s (and their personal) code of ethics. You want to keep your organization running smoothly and exceed expectations of those you support, but what if you are asked to turn a blind eye to an unethical behavior or forced to break a rule in order to meet a supervisor’s request?

Administrative professionals are often expected to support multiple employees simultaneously, and consequently, their loyalties are stretched and challenged. In fact, according to the American Management Association’s “A Global Study of Business Ethics, 2005–2015,” the top two drivers for unethical behavior in the workplace are “pressure to meet unrealistic business objectives/deadlines” and “desire to further one’s career.”

If a situation gives you pause, listen to your gut. Trust your instincts if something doesn’t seem right to you. Researching internal policies and external regulations can help you determine how to handle a situation, but some cases aren’t so black and white. 

Here are 10 integrity-challenging situations. Think about what you would do, then review our suggested strategies for addressing the issue:

  1. Your supervisors give you conflicting instructions. (The VP of HR wants all company correspondence typed in Times New Roman and the Creative Director tells you to change it to Cambria. You are in the middle of a project for the Customer Service Manager and the Marketing Supervisor gives you another project, stating that it is more important and your other assignments can wait).
  2. You notice multiple employees misusing company equipment/property. (Bob constantly uses company stamps to mail his personal bills, Donna uses the office as a meeting place for her friends every weekend, Angela uses the company printer for her job search materials).
  3. You reviewed last month’s expense report and noticed Andrew used his company card for personal errands.
  4. Jane will be missing an important meeting to go shopping, but asked you to tell her supervisors that she’s sick.
  5. A group of people at the water cooler are gossiping about a coworker’s relationship status and ask you if you know anything about it.
  6. Bethany sends you a report to print and assemble for a key client. Only her name is on the report, but you invested significant time and effort into the project.
  7. Your brother-in-law manages a hotel in a city where your company’s annual board meeting is being held. Even though it would be more expensive for you to book the executives at this hotel, your brother-in-law promises to “make it worth your while” to send the executives there.
  8. Your boss loses her temper and yells at you frequently in front of other employees.
  9. You’re being recruited by the head of another department and your boss isn’t in the loop.
  10. You suspect your boss is participating in unethical and potentially illegal business practices.


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by: Natalie Winzer, iHire
July 18, 2016

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