Frame of reference training is being used more frequently to study bias, providing a framework for recognition and understanding of preconceived notions, including sensitivities and blind spots that color people’s perceptions.2 Understanding sometimes oppositional points of view can characterize ethical dilemmas and provide a good foundation to internalize ethics. For example: in situations where the manager or organization has a rule and employees don’t consistently follow it, an open discussion session of why the rule exists, what the rationale for the rule is, and most importantly, how all those involved are impacted by either following or breaking the rule. The discussion should also include any potential legal implications. Lateness is a concrete example. It is one thing to hear from a manager that the staffer is late and be reminded of the work hours. It takes on a different dimension when another staffer discusses how that lateness affects the work, the co-workers, the morale of the workplace and the customers. This type of frame of reference training allows all involved to understand the facts as others see them and the impact of behaviors on the workplace from multiple points of view.3 It also provides a window on the rationale of workplace rules and policies, producing better judgment and behavior as members begin to internalize how their actions impact the overall organization.
One online training program4 in ethics included these subject headings:
- Expectations/code of conduct
- Ethical decision making
- Workplace fairness and respect
- Respecting company assets
- Conflict of interest
All of these subjects can be addressed using the frame of reference training, with some preparation. Bring management into the discussions as well, for the perspective that many workers may not be privy to. The inclusion of upper management also reinforces the importance of ethics at all levels.
While ethics is a complex and weighty subject, a company focus on preventative training is better than dealing with an ethical lapse that may damage the organization’s image or lead to legal action.5
- Margolis, D.,” Learning to Right the Wrongs,” Chief Learning Officer, Jan. 2012, p. 35.
Ann Marie Dinkel, RLATG, has over 20 years of facility management experience, and serves as adjunct faculty for SUNY Delhi and Delaware Technical Community College. For the past several years, she has been a consultant and trainer in Laboratory Animal Science. Ann is an account manager for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states for Alternative Design.