The caring and morally responsible reaction to peers’ incompetence is to try to help them as much as possible without intruding into their personal affairs. However, policing would be the direct approach as a supervisor because of the professional obligation to oversee the competency of those under their management. Hence, assisting would be the ideal response to a peer’s incompetence, while policing would be the expected approach by a supervisor.
Assisting instead of monitoring is the best course of action where one observes incompetence in a colleague. Doherty and Purtilo (2016) assert that the objective of professional, ethical practice is to facilitate the dispensation of a caring response, which is also a critical component to maintain professional relationships amongst peers. Accordingly, to preserve relations with colleagues, it is imperative to acknowledge that one does not typically have authority over them. Thus, attempts to police their incompetence is most likely to antagonize them, thereby undermining relations and would, therefore, not be a caring response. However, offering assistance without being condescending would be ideal as it would enable them to be more efficient at work.
Nevertheless, the response would be different if one is a supervisor as opposed to a peer. A supervisory role is conventionally accompanied by the authority to oversee everyone under one’s management and the obligation to maintain all expected professional standards and performance. Consequently, a supervisor has the responsibility to ensure that employees under them meet all set targets and, therefore, that incompetence is not an obstacle to that end. It necessarily follows that policing would be the expected response from a supervisor. However, the most caring and morally responsible option, rather than invoke supervisory authority, would be an attempt to establish the cause of such incompetence and offer any help possible to remedy the situation. Exercising supervisory authority and control such as warning letters, probation, suspension, or any other disciplinary measures, should be the last resort.
Doherty, R., & Purtilo, R., (2016). Ethical dimensions in the health professions. (6th ed.). Elsevier.