Have you ever had someone do something to you that caused you to view that person in a completely different light? Did you find that they lied to you? Cheated you? Stole from you? Perhaps something worse?
Even if you forgive that person, do you find it easy to restore that relationship and the sense of trust that existed in the relationship prior to event? Do you find that when that person tells you something or is around, that feeling of doubt creeps in? Even if you manage to shake it off and step forward, when a similar circumstance arises, do you still have doubts?
Have you done this to someone else – perhaps an employee, vendor or customer? Perhaps you called it, “what he knows won’t hurt him” or “survival of the fittest.” How did it make you feel? How do you think it made the people who knew about it feel? How would you feel if your decision was made public knowledge?
While business ethics seems to be one of those feel-good topics that only comes up either in business school or something that pops up when someone gets caught. The reality is that it does impact your business climate, which can present itself as a lack of employee productivity, commitment and longevity. That, it turn, could impact your ability to get and keep your customers.
For example, a toy retailer that closed many years ago paid its employees the least amount possible – from the management down to the stock people. They had “questionable” accounting practices, strong-armed their vendors, and doctored time sheets to avoid paying overtime, which they would compensate “under the table.” The company’s policies – even for the management – were inflexible. The company often gave customers a hard time for returning items, charging extra fees for certain services and didn’t make an effort to make customers feel like any more than customers. How loyal do you think the management, staff and customers were?
The answer is – the company is out of business, and management and staff did everything to help it go there, from stealing right off of the delivery trucks, so doing the least amount possible to keep the store clean and the shelves stocked. Certainly they did enough to keep their jobs, but it wasn’t enough to attract customers to the store. All in pursuit of the almighty dollar. Of which they have none, now.
So…while short-term thinking might save a company a few dollars here or there, it could potentially put a company out of business. Not you? You will never get caught? You will always have to worry about it, won’t you? That can’t be fun. Good luck with that. Take a chance and take the high road; build an extraordinary business. Build a business with clarity of conscious that your stakeholders – employees, investors, vendors, customers and community – can be proud of.
Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is an Atlanta, Georgia based Operations Management and Business Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders. We help business leaders DESIGN | CREATE | BUILD extraordinary businesses. We support our clients with financial management, product and service production and delivery, outsourced services management, sales & marketing and business growth. We provide them with a number of flexible solutions to help them reach their goals.
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