If you want to maintain your reputation as a quality business owner, it is important that you always make ethical decisions.
I had an interesting situation come up for a client recently, and I decided to create a teachable moment out of it.
A foreman who works for my client hired a subcontractor to do part of a job. This subcontractor did a great job, and when finished asked the foreman for his “cash.” The foreman sent him to the owner. My client, being the law abiding, ethical citizen that he is, let the subcontractor know he doesn’t do “cash.” They do “by the book” and need an invoice from the subcontractor in order to pay him (not in cash). This subcontractor was very upset and explained that if the transaction was to be ON the books, it would cost $300 instead of $150.
Obviously, the ethical choice here is to do things by the book (despite the obvious cost savings of the initial transaction). In the long term, doing the wrong thing would create chaos and destruction in the business, and there would be NO benefit whatsoever. If the CRA finds out, there could be huge fines! There would be a large cost.
Now that we’ve established that, let’s look at how this happened, and how it could have been avoided altogether. There is obviously not a proper process in place for dealing with subcontractors. An example of a process could be:
- Get an estimate and sign a subcontractor agreement with anyone we hire.
- Show us valid proof of insurance and WCB (to avoid huge liability).
- Properly track expenses paid to subcontractors, and report all payments to the CRA.
If these steps were followed, my client would have preempted this situation.
More importantly, though, it’s become apparent to me that the foreman (and perhaps other staff) are not fully aware of—or living—the company values. This is where those culture statements (or statement of values) come in handy. If we are actually LIVING them, we wouldn’t even get into these situations, because the entire team knows “we do things ethically, and that means at minimum, that we follow the laws.”
This is a rather small example but much larger disasters can come about if we are not careful to ensure that our team is living our values, especially with the way news travels online these days. Our customers, subcontractors, employees, partners and strategic alliances should all be aware of what our values are, and how we do things.
Here is a short video on addressing ethics in the workplace and the challenges your workers may face if you don’t run your company with a solid set of values:
Take some time to reflect on the following:
- First of all, do you HAVE a statement of values?
- Did your team help to create or update them? You know that people support what they help to create, so this is important.
- Do you really believe in them? Are you proud of them?
- Do you have your values posted? Do you involve them in reviews, regular meetings, and everyday activities? DO YOU live your values? Remember that you are always leading by example, whether you intend to or not.
- Do you survey your team periodically, using examples if necessary, to ensure that they understand what our values are, and how to live them?
One of the most frustrating and unfulfilling ways to live life, is to be out of alignment with your values. Despite any achievement that may come about, you will never feel fulfilled, happy and successful without being in alignment with your values. Your company will never succeed and serve at the level it could, without your entire team living its values.
If you feel you need some help developing your company statement of values, to get the most out of your company and your life, contact TMH Business Coaching today for a confidential, free, no obligation consultation to propel you forward. Also, please feel free to add yourself to our weekly coaching tips email!