Where has business ethics gone?

I was travelling to India for a week (by flying on the weekends and working on the week), and among other reasons to travel was a very important reason: we were  hiring my peer in India organization and I wanted to make sure I am there when he joins so that we can sync up correctly, I hand over the responsibilities etc, and we start talking about future. Everyone else in the company (HR director, recruiter, VP E) had been keeping him engaged, counting down to his joining date, which was to be the last day of my trip.

The day before he was to travel to our office, he became inaccessible via phone, and things went downhill after that, and finally, on the day of joining, he let us know that he couldn’t join because of some personal reason! 

I was utterly frustrated, more so by the fact that even people for senior positions do not have the guts in them to tell the truth, as early as they can. Or is it the case of missing business ethics?

I would be interested in hearing others’ stories and their experiences in these situations.. do leave your comments or drop me a note.

5 thoughts on “Where has business ethics gone?

  1. Chandra

    Hi Mrityu, it seems the incidence of such incidents is more than sporadic. I have come across at least three such ‘last day no-shows’ in our organization alone.

    The most recent incident was about 3 weeks back, when a gentleman who was to come on board as the India manager for one of our products went untraceable the day he was supposed to join. When we got to him somehow, he requested a week’s extension to his joining date. A week later, he sent in a refusal, citing that he would stay on with his current employer. Apparently, he had used our offer to renegotiate his terms, and in the process, left us in the lurch.

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  2. Mrityunjay Kumar

    Yes, looks like it is. I am not sure what will be the long-term remedy for this. At least for the senior people, it should reflect badly on their resume if they can’t even maintain such a simple ethics of the business to be reliable and honest. Maybe we should have a registry of such people for sharing across companies (but then how do you rely on the registry data being correct? :-)).. maybe some business idea here.

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  3. Apurva

    I have seen some similar cases as well – though not at senior positions (perhaps I haven’t reached a position to see such incidents 🙂 ).

    Its definitely a setback for the organization(s) and people directly affected by it. But I think its better for the company longer term if such people don’t join. Several possibilities may materialize with such folks – ranging from “what if the person leaves the company immediately after joining” to “do you really want such week personalities in your company for senior positions”… I have seen these after effects 🙂

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  4. Mrityunjay Kumar

    Yes, that is true, it is good they do not join. I am thinking more from the perspective of how they grow to that level, and won’t such qualities manifest themselves earlier in the career in other forms (can’t handle difficult meetings or tough peers, taking shortcuts to meet deadlines, etc)? Or is it because we tend to ignore such things in early careers if the individual work is good (Jack Welch’s category of “good at work, bad in culture” which he recommends firing immediately!) that such people grow and reach senior positions, and continue to display the same behavior. Either way, not good for any organization they are part of.

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  5. Apurva

    I am sure you are aware – you haven’t been still been away for a very long time – the industry in India is still very much “number of years of experience” centric. So if you have _spent_ 10 years in the industry then you are _expected_ to be doing something and if you have _spent_ 15 years then something else is expected from you (and so on). In fact, remaining a pure tech-guy in India is _very tough_ and the market forces tend to lead your way unless you are ultra stubborn (is that me? 🙂 )

    So from that perspective, even if the person gets fired – the clock is still ticking for him (in his favor to some extent). And when he lands up for an interview at a company, the first thing that is looked at is the # years of experience. I have seen this one number setting so many expectations for the candidate. And obviously his resume is never going to mention that he was fired and also the reference check system is still not fully in place (a business idea here !?).

    So it may not even be the guy’s fault that he is interviewed for a senior position in the first place (after all – who wouldn’t want to get a fat paycheck accorded only to the senior management folks in India).

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