Workplace Ethics Thumball

Explore ethical guidelines and distinguishing right from wrong

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Explore ethical guidelines and discuss right-from-wrong decisions.

Workplace Ethics Thumball focuses on how you distinguish right from wrong. Is your idea of ethical obligations and responsibilities the same as your colleagues, friends and family? The Ethics Thumball raises questions and fosters discussion about individual and organizational norms and ideals, regarding making and breaking rules, fostering ethical leadership, whistle blowing, bending the truth, and more.

Look under your thumb and share your reaction to whatever prompt lies beneath it. Thumball™ is a soft 6" stuffed ball with loads of applications!! 

Have rich conversations about the types of people you look to as a moral compass; how you'd handle different situations; what integrity, rules, ethics, and fairness mean to you; and how your organization or team handles ethical issues.

Workplace Ethics Thumball prompts include:

  1. Who is your role model for ethical leadership?
  2. Who can you depend on to "tell it like it is"?
  3. If you faced an ethical dilemma, who would you consult?
  4. Who/what sets the tone for ethical conduct in our org?
  5. Who inspires you to be a better person?
  6. What do you believe compromises the ethical workplace?
  7. What does "integrity" mean to you?
  8. Can a behavior be "ethical" but also "unfair"?
  9. If a rule is unfair, should you still abide by it?
  10. How do you differentiate a lie from a white lie?
  11. Is withholding information the same as mis-informing?
  12. How do our "unwritten rules" collide with official rules?
  13. What if a colleague does something you disapprove of?
  14. If you're undercharged, when might you say something?
  15. Is it fair to steal from the rich & give to the poor?
  16. Do you agree with "Finders keepers, losers weepers"? Why?
  17. What if someone will get hurt if you do what's right?
  18. When is it "not your place" to correct someone?
  19. Do you apologize if you haven't done anything wrong?
  20. Why is apologizing hard?
  21. Are ethical "rules" different for people vs. organizations?
  22. Which "rules" are hardest to live by?
  23. Is it ever ok to break a promise?
  24. How are "internal reporters" perceived?
  25. How can we promote "speaking up"?
  26. What inhibits people from "blowing the whistle"?
  27. Do good ethics "pay" or "cost"? Why?
  28. When do you feel the most pressure to break the rules?
  29. Do you feel "safe" to disagree? Why?
  30. Does our org tend towards secrecy or transparency?
  31. What makes it hard for us to "do the right thing"?
  32. Toss Again

[NOTE: Silver Series Conversation Prompts are available as Thumballs, UNZiP-IT! Pocket & Deck, and Virtual/Remote PPT.]

** TIPS **


Your goal is to make conversations about ethics interesting and productive, without judgement or finger pointing. To explore these touchy questions most effectively, remind your group that there are no right answers. Be transparent about these goals and explain your interest in opening discussion and having rich conversations -- about morals, handling sticky situations, evaluating fairness, and exploring the organizational practices that enable or inhibit ethical behavior.

Take turns circulating the ball by passing, rolling, tossing and catching.  Ask recipients to respond to the prompt under their right thumb. Because each prompt can lead to an interest dialogue, you may choose any one of these facilitation techniques:

  1. Have each recipient answer the question with the first thought that comes to their mind.
  2. After one recipient responds, invite others to share their replies to the same prompt.
  3. Toss the ball to select one on discussion prompt to focus on for your entire meeting.
  4. Ask players to anticipate what answer will be given by another player.

More for Workplace Ethics:

These same thoughtful prompts are available in the UNZIP-it! with Workplace Ethics Card Deck and come in a playful zippered pocket (Product Code #: BLZPAQ). 

©Trainers Warehouse – Trainers Warehouse holds the copyright for this set of questions. Reproductions cannot be made without express approval.


Workplace Ethics Thumball

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