The reading level for this article is All Levels
1. Real ethics are an absolute necessity.
In today’s work environment, there is a sense that a person should do anything it takes to close a sale. With this mentality, ethical lines are often blurred by desperation to make a sale, and many are willing to offer anything and everything necessary to close the deal. Pitching a client a song and dance, and over-promising the results that can be delivered may work in the short-term, but what happens in the long-run?
Currently, I have a contract with a vendor who did not deliver what was promised. I was promised astounding results, and what I’ve gotten has been mediocre, at best. The hassle of getting my money back is not worth it to me, and I don’t believe it’s worth compromising my own business ethics to get a quick payoff. I’ll let the vendor finish the contract, but I no longer see them as an expert in their field and it’s unlikely I will work with them in the future.
Fair and honest business practices are the best option, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it will get you further. Never promise grandiose results unless you are 110% sure you can successfully and effectively execute the task. It’s a form of dishonesty and will ALWAYS set you back in the long-run. More than anything else, the first step to a successful career is acting with the highest ethical standards.
DON’T: Pull a Bernie Madoff
DO: Say what you mean and mean what you say
2. Get along with people – you’ll get further in life.
Getting along with others can be tricky in the business world, but it is in poor taste to burn bridges for more than one reason. First, forming positive business relationships will give your career a solid foundation and pave the path to further success. It does require an investment of time and thought to create long-lasting relationships, but the end result is undoubtedly worth the effort. The damage from sending out just one snide email is often irreparable and effects how you are seen amongst your colleagues.
The second reason why relationship-building is invaluable is better illustrated in the following story: Recently, a young woman came into my office to be interviewed by one of my employees for a job opening in a company. I enjoy meeting our clients, and I often introduce myself since they’ve taken the time to come to the office. I began to ask her about her current job and she explained to me that she followed her boss to his fifth business. (He had already started and sold four other businesses.) Curious, I asked her what he was like. Her answer was that he was often depressed, and as a result, she didn’t enjoy her job anymore because she felt she was more of a babysitter and less of a colleague.
Without hesitation, I said that he is probably remorseful about burned bridges. She thought I was a genius, but I have burned enough bridges to know that doing so is quite depressing. Regardless of how much money you make, it is never pleasant to know that some people have constant remorse for you. Remorse is hard to reverse and it affects both how other people see you and how you view yourself. Of course, some relationships will not work out, but it is important to realize the value of each and every professional relationship you have.
DON’T: Use your emotions to make decisions
DO: Build bridges. Network, send follow-up emails, and always be professional.