What do you believe to be important to a business?
Some think it is money, products or service, profit margin or customers. All are good answers, but one thing that many do not focus on is customer service and business ethics.
This topic got woven in to the discussion at the last Small Business Round Table, a series of business discussions sponsored by the SouthEast Chapter of SCORE and the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce.
“Ethics, integrity and character should all be important to a business owner,” suggested Joe Powers, CEO of the Canadian Honker, as he led the session’s discussion on how to make and keep your business successful.
When and how you apply these behaviors can greatly affect your business. Are you aware of how you communicate with your customers and employees both internally and externally? It is always important to pay close attention to your ethics, integrity and character behavior patterns.
Business owner, are ethics and quality built into your business?
About a year ago, I read an article related to this topic by Patricia Lotich, an MBA who is passionate about helping small business owners see their vision come to life by creating infrastructures that support business development and growth through strategic customer focus.
She writes for, and is the founder of, The Thriving Small Business. She reminded readers that “the success of any organization is built on the confidence and trust of employees, customers, and the general public. The only way for an organization to gain that trust is to demonstrate honesty and integrity in everything the organization does. Organizations that operate this way do so because it is the right thing to do and not because of legal requirements.”
We are all familiar with the fall of Enron and Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. As their unethical business practices came to light, these very successful organizations promptly collapsed. Integrity affects every area of business operations and all customer groups.
Lotich gave four suggestions for businesses to help them make integrity a key part of its everyday practices?
• Develop a values statement that demonstrates the values that the organization operates by. A values statement helps employees understand the principles used in decision making.
• Create a code-of-conduct statement. This document establishes boundaries for employee behavior.
• Train employees on the importance of honesty and integrity. This should be done as part of the new employee orientation process.
• Create confidential processes for employees to report unethical behaviors. This is important so employees are not hesitant to report questionable or inappropriate business practices.
Business integrity should be a key part of an organization’s culture, demonstrated in every business practice. Organizations that strive to do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do survive and prosper. Those that don’t, don’t.