Thanks for joining us back here on the TMG blog! If you’re just tuning in and missed last month’s article, here’s the recap: we’re still in the process of moving, and it continues to be an exercise in controlled chaos.…But wait. You’re not here to hear about my family’s move – you’re here to dig into the details of ethical practices in business! Fair enough.
Well, the last post, we discussed how business ethics can go sideways.
The question becomes, then, what does one do in order to avoid that sort of unethical behaviour? Or, to put it another way: how exactly does a person go about acting ethically in business?
I’m glad you asked.
Trust in the Truth of Your Ethical Practices
Here at The Marketing Girl, I make it a point to follow my value system. This is firmly anchored by ethical practices in every one of my professional endeavours and relationships. Whether I’m working with a client, collaborating with a colleague, or even just networking with new connections, I always strive to keep ethical practices front of mind in how I conduct myself and engage with others. My reputation depends on it.
A big part of that involves speaking truth in everything I do and empowering my team members to do the same. Whenever I enter into a new project or business agreement, I always ensure to highlight the exceptional value-for-service that The Marketing Girl has to offer. I never try to gain a client or project based on a deliverable I know I can’t deliver. While the ends might appear to justify the means (“I just won a new client!”), the reality is that it’s short-lived gain at best. Eventually, you’ll be asked to make good on what you said you can do. If you can’t follow through, you’ve just played a hand in tarnishing your own business’s reputation and trustworthiness.
If you say you’re going to do a thing, it’s important you’re able to do it – which ties nicely into our next point.
Be Confident in Not Knowing Absolutely Everything
Too often in business (and in life!) we’re made to feel like we should have every answer to every question posed to us. Guess what? I’m here to tell you that you don’t. You really don’t! There – doesn’t that feel great? Like an enormous weight’s been lifted off your shoulders?
You’re welcome. 😉
It’s okay to not have the answer to every question your clients, or even your boss might ask you. It’s important to be knowledgeable, particularly within your field of expertise – but you’re not a robot! Telling a client that you’ll get back to them on a specific detail or letting a colleague know you’ll share an answer back once you’ve had time to look into things a bit more fosters trustworthiness. It showcases that not only do you know what you know, but that you’re able to recognize what you don’t know, too.
When you tell someone you will circle back to them with an answer, you avoid the unethical practice of simply passing off the best guess as fact or lying to a client because you’re worried it might look “weak” to not have an answer on-demand. You build trust by letting them know you’ll follow up with the exact info they’re after. It also demonstrates your attention to detail and a commitment to offering exemplary service based on open and honest communication.
Back in the day, that’s what they’d call being a straight-shooter. This approach to business also fosters further trust in what you do say and put forward. The people you work with will know that if you did have questions, you’d have no problem saying so.
And speaking of saying so…
Live By Your Word in Ethical Practices
If you say you’re going to do something, it’s critical that you actually do it. This goes for any agreement you make – written or verbal. written arrangements too of course, Ethically-speaking you should treat verbal agreements the same as you would those put down in words.
What it comes down to is this: you shouldn’t need the technicality of an agreement being written out on a screen or a piece of paper somewhere to feel as though you need to honour your word. One of the central tenets of ethics in business revolves around trust. If the people you work with (be they clients or colleagues) feel that they can’t trust you at your word, or that they have to constantly parse between what you’re saying that’s true and what’s false…well, that seems like exactly the sort of unethical professional behaviour that can drive a business into the ground.
Protect your business’s reputation – and your own. Treat your word like the bond that it is and make good on your agreements regardless of whether they happen to be written down or not.
If You Can’t Follow Through, Do What It Takes to Make Things Right
I stand by what I wrote in the previous section of this blog post 100%: if you say you’re going to do something, do it. Sometimes, though, things happen that are out of our control. We agree to something fully intending on making it happen, and life gets in the way. Sometimes, we agree that something is possible, and we end up being unfortunately incorrect. That’s okay! We’re all human and we all make mistakes. How we respond to these situations tells the tale of our business ethics.
If you agree to something and are unable to hold up your end of the arrangement, it becomes incumbent on you – from a business ethics standpoint – to offer up a commensurate and satisfying solution. After all, that’s what you’d expect as the client of any business you’ve engaged or associated with, right?
Not only is taking this approach to amending issues the ethically-correct way to go about handling your business, but it will pay dividends in the long run, too. Nobody likes having to admit they’re wrong or likes having to take one on the proverbial chin as a result. However, by freely eating a bit of humble pie, you’re setting your business apart as one that’s not only ethical but accountable, too – and that means a whole lot to customers and clients, both present and perspective.
Don’t let your marketing fall prey to shady, underhanded ethics – your business deserves better than that! Discover marketing that trades in trust and sparks success today at The Marketing Girl.
Contact us about our unique approach to building your brand and creating content that truly shines. Thanks so much for taking the time to check out our two-part blog series on the Business of Business Ethics. See you back here again soon!