Business Ethics Archive

What is the most important business value? Some would say that honesty is the most important value. Others would say directness is important. Still others would claim appreciation takes the crown. The thing is, while honest, directness, appreciation or any other value you can name are all important in achieving real success, none of them has any applicability if there aren’t any customers to be direct with, to show appreciation to or to experience honesty. In short, all of these other values depend upon existing customers in order to come into play. Because of this fact, one value becomes paramount, due to its key role in customer/business relationship building. That value is trust.

You see, a potential customer will not use a product or service that they don’t trust. Before they purchase, they first have to be assured that what they are purchasing will fulfil a need or satisfactorily solve a problem they are experiencing. This innate wariness is an inherent part of human nature. It operates on an almost instinctual level. Most of the time, people do not realize that they are constantly scanning their environment for small visual and auditory clues that help them decide what to eat, what to buy, who to friend and more. Every successful business owner, however, must be aware of this tendency and shape their marketing efforts in such a way to positively influence the potential customer so as to overcome initial distrust.

Why are people initial wary? Well, it is sort of survival instinct. Many millennia in the past, people routinely spent time only with their own group. Anyone else they encountered was a potential hazard. However, since most groups relied on outside encounters for valuable trade goods and potential mates, the risk of harm from the potential hazard had to be weighed against the benefit of gain from the potential increased security. Out of this balancing act arose our instinctual distrust. We remained wary until the outsiders earned our trust with a positive or beneficial act.
Your potential customers are no different than our ancestors. When they first encounter your business they will remain wary until you demonstrate your good intentions with a beneficial or positive act. When you do demonstrate your good intentions the barrier of wariness will begin to fall and a bridge of trust will begin to be built between your business and your soon to be customer. This is why trust is the key to business success.

The Origin of Values > Business Ethics

Posted September 12, 2015 By Callie

There are different ways to look at the world of business, just as there are different ways to look at everything in life. When it comes to business, your perception depends on your outlook. You can view business as a rough and tumble bar fight where victory depends on quick wits coupled with a taste for blood. Alternatively, you can view it as a positive human enterprise where cooperation is just as important as competition. The thing is, either view can be as valid as the other if there is no steady element to provide perspective. Luckily, such an element exists – the idea of values.

In order to understand values, we have to understand human nature and human origins. To understand human nature, we only have to look into our own hearts. We know that each of us is capable of positive, constructive behaviors, as well as negative, destructive behaviors. A quick look at the history of mankind bears this out. History is filled with horrific acts of cruelty and barbarity. It’s a laundry list of war, genocide, oppression and enslavement. However, there are also instances of remarkable acts of kindness, leniency, mercy and forgiveness. How can the same creature exhibit such a duel nature? How can we have both good and evil inside of us?

The answer to that question lies in the mists of time. Many millions of years ago humans shared a common ancestor with both chimpanzees and bonobos. Now, everyone is familiar with the chimpanzee, mostly from movies and television. Bonobos are less familiar to us, but basically resemble slender, slightly smaller chimps. There is a difference however between chimp behavior and bonobo behavior. Chimps are aggressive, violent to their own kind, territorial and domineering. Bonobos, on the other hand, are non-aggressive, gentle with their own kind, and non-territorial. In some very specific ways, one species exhibits the dark traits that humanity displays and the other exhibits the light side of humanity. Since all three of us descend from a common ancestor, you can say that this ancestor was the source of our duel nature.

Because we are capable of such violent actions, values developed as a way to check our most terrible behaviors while, at the same time, encourage our best behaviors. You can look at them as a sort of coping mechanism that stopped us from destroying each other while we developed as a species. Today, values still work promote positive social actions at the expense of negative anti-social actions.

Think about things that you love to do. It’s almost a sure bet that when you thought about what you love to do the most an unconscious smile crossed your face. Alternatively, you may have, for a moment, felt warmer and more secure. Why did this occur? What inner feelings do these physical manifestations represent? You smiled or felt better because you are passionate about the things that you love to do. It’s a natural reaction. Your passion for these activities makes you excited and energized. You feel inspired and more creative when you are involved in them. Time seems to slip by without notice. In other words, your favorite activities make you feel more connected and more alive.

Now, think about what you do for a living. If you are a business owner, think about your business. Do you feel the same spark, the same excitement that you felt when thinking about the things that you love the most? If you did, then congratulations are in order. You are in some fine company when it comes to being passionate about what you do. Nearly every great figure in history is remembered as being great precisely because of their passion for their work. It doesn’t matter what area of endeavor they were involved in, the arts, the sciences, politics or industry, the household names we are all familiar with and admire loved their jobs.

What if you didn’t feel excitement when you thought about your job or your business? Well, that’s probably a sign that something is slightly out of kilter with your attitude about what you do. However, don’t worry if that’s the way you feel. There’s nothing wrong with you. Many people don’t feel passionate about what they do. They work because they have to earn a living in the world. They have to eat and keep a roof over their heads. They separate what they have to do from what they want to do. If you experienced diminished excitement when you thought about your job, that’s probably the reason.

There is a solution to this problem though. It is a simple as finding ways to bring joy back into what you do. No matter how dismal you think your job is, if you look you will find small pockets of joy. Concentrate on this joy. Concentrate on the moment. Try to do the best job that you can. By doing so, you will slowly start to bring passion back into your profession. In doing so you will transform you vocation into your avocation.

The goal of every business owner is, or should be, to succeed. Yet, when you think about it, what does that really mean? Of course there are several solid signs of a successful business that can help us reach a definition of success. A successful business is a profitable business. It takes in more than it spends on a regular basis. A successful business also experiences growth. It uses a portion of its profits to fund additional physical locations, greater productivity or a greater market share. So, the goal of every business owner should to become, and remain profitable, as well as experience regular cycles of growth. Yet, even though we now know the actual goals, how does the average business reach them? One way is through the use of a set of business values.

Business values are nothing more than a code of conduct that organizes and governs the behavior of the entire organization. This organization, in turn, provides specific benefits that act almost as a compass, guiding the business to its goals of increased profitability and growth. Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits.
A problem that many businesses face is a lack of visibility. In any given business niche, there are thousands of companies competing for the attention of a finite customer base. To the customer, many of these businesses look and act the same. The successful businesses in the niche find a way to make themselves stand out from the crowd. Because they’ve set themselves apart, they grab more customers than their competitors and experience profitability and growth.

When you adopt a set of business values and use them to govern your business’ actions you begin to distinguish yourself from other businesses because of the uniformity of your actions. In other words, all the elements within your organization work together to provide customers with an excellent and even experience each and every time they interact with your business. There are now rough spots and very few bumps in the road. The customer knows in advance what to expect and each time they patronize your business they get what they have expected.

This consistency in action serves to send a message to customers and potential customers about what is important to your business – excellence and customer satisfaction. This message serves to distinguish your business from the competition even further which attracts more attention. As this positive cycle repeats itself, you will find that your business begins to experience increased profitability and growth. The compass of business values has gotten you to your goals.

Human Values and Business Success > Business Ethics

Posted September 8, 2015 By Callie

As a business owner, you understand how business works. You know that one of the fundamental principles of business is profit. A profitable business survives to stay in business, perhaps to grow and become even more profitable. A non-profitable business has a decreasing chance of survival for as long as the non-profitability continues. If the lack of profits continues long enough, the business dies. It’s a high stakes game, really. Make money and you get to keep playing. Don’t make money and your turn is over. That is why every business owner has their eyes on the bottom line. It’s that important.

A business owner also understands that every business is in direct or indirect competition with every other business. There is a dog eat dog form of Darwinism at work in every business niche. All of the businesses in that niche are competing for a share of the available market. The available market is also a finite resource that provides the profits that each business so desperately needs. All of the businesses in that niche work very hard, doing whatever they can to attract and keep a sufficient market share. Sometimes, the competition gets so fierce and the stakes get so desperate that the owners of the businesses forget they are human beings, the owners of the other businesses are human beings and the available market share is composed of human beings. This is not only a shame, it is also a mistake.

Business does not have to be a zero sum game. It does not have to be cutthroat. It does not have to be viewed through the black and white lens of winning versus losing. There is another way. Business success is predicated, in a large part on the concept of human values. After all, every business, large and small, is comprised of people. Each of these people has their own set of ethics and principles that guide their daily behavior. These value sets encompass more than mere domination and survival. They involve more evolved concepts such as kindness, charity, understanding and nurturing. These values help all of these people to become something more that savages.

A business needs to embrace the concept of values in order to succeed. The most successful businesses are not the ones who have hacked and slashed their way to the top of the pile. Instead, the most successful businesses are the ones who understand that a code of conduct allows them to present their best face to the marketplace and that it is this more human face that allows them to obtain the profitability to survive.

Establishing Trust > Business Ethics

Posted September 7, 2015 By Callie

Trust may be the most important value in any business’ code of conduct. Trust is an often overlooked value, getting less attention it should. That’s a mistake, because trust is the lubricant that makes the wheels of commerce turn. Without trust, there are no sales. Why? People will not buy a product from an organization that they do not trust. It’s that simple. If you don’t establish trust with your clientele, then you will not profit from that clientele. No profits and you soon have no business. That’s how important trust is. It could make the difference between surviving and growing or going down in flames. Luckily, there are several ways your business can leverage already existing assets into increased trust which will lead to increased profitability.

Website

Your website is very often the first way that most potential customers get introduced to your business. First impressions are extremely important. You’ll only get one chance to wow a new potential client with your website. If they don’t like what they see or they can’t easily find what they’re looking for, they’ll be gone for good. Make sure that your website is beautiful to look at and easy to use. If you do you’ll attract more visitors and keep a higher percentage of the visitors you do attract on your site.

Additionally, use your website as the first opportunity to build trust with the people visiting. Make sure the language you use is warm and inviting. Place your mission statement or code of values in a prominent place. Reinforce those values by talking directly to the visitors about how the values influence your relationship with your customers. In short, do all you can to make them feel that they are the most important part of your business.

Product or Service

Your business is what it produces or the service it provides. If you produce a less than stellar product or service, yet you claim it is top of the line, you will immediately lose the trust of each and every customer who purchases from you. In addition, every one of those dissatisfied customers will let the world know that your business is the cause of their dissatisfaction. Don’t let this happen. Make sure that the product that your business produces or the services that it offers are of the highest quality possible. When you give your customers the best efforts that you can you send them a message that they are important. This, in turn, causes them to invest even more trust in you and your business.

The truth of the matter is that work is work. Yes, it can be rewarding. Yes, it can be good for the soul and yes, it is a necessity. However, the fact remains that it is always, in some sense, labor. For all the times that work is rewarding, there are an equal amount of times that it is frustrating. For every time that work is inspiring, there are other times that it is mind numbing. Ignoring this fact is foolish and can lead to a dangerous downward cycle of unproductivity. If a person only focuses only on the high points of a job, the downside of what they do can rob them of the inspiration these high points provide. If they focus only the on the downside, it robs them of the ability to see the positive aspects, let alone achieve them.

In order to work successfully, your business has to balance the equities. You, as a business owner, have to find a way to strike a balance between a Pollyanna, sunshine and roses attitude towards work and a doom and gloom, rat in a cage attitude. Attaining and maintaining this balance on your own can be difficult over the long term. This is where business values come into play.

A set of business values can provide the buoyancy your organization needs to get through a rough patch, a tough job or a downswing in fortunes. A value set can also act as a counterweight against unrealistic outlooks and expectations brought about by individual or organizational successes. In other words, celebrating success is natural, ignoring the fact that there is hard work to be done in order to maintain that success is not.

A set of business values provides this stability in a couple ways. First of all a properly discussed and disseminated set of values can serve to encourage the development of a company-wide culture or attitude towards the tasks at hand. This culture encourages success, but is realistic about the ups and downs that the road to success can bring. Second, the values also encourage personal growth among individual employees. This growth takes the form of developing the same realism about their jobs and the effects of success on the same. Finally, the value set encourages increased engagement among your business’s clients. The clients can see that your values promote a sober and steady attitude towards work, an attitude that is both professional and attractive.

A Mosaic of People > Business Ethics

Posted September 5, 2015 By Callie

What do you think of when the word business is mentioned? Many people think of profit and loss statements, advertising revenues, production milestones and the other nuts and bolts concepts that go into running a successful business. There’s no problem with thinking about business’ more utilitarian side. After all, business is tough. Competition is ever present. The marketplace is fair, but cold. Like nature, the market doesn’t care who comes out on top, as long as the overall process of competition is being served. The need for profit is also ever present. In order to survive a business has to turn a profit. Ignoring this need is, at pest, foolish. All in all, it’s no wonder that most people think of the hard side of business when the subject comes up.

However, there is another side to the business picture that has to be considered if a business is going to truly succeed and thrive. This other side of business can be called its human side. You see, each and every business is made if of real, breathing, caring and feeling human beings. When you consider businesses harder side, it’s easy to lose sight of this fact. Businesses aren’t being run by automatons. Instead, they are being run by people. In fact the world of business is actually a mosaic of people.

All of these people bring something to the table other than talent and skill. They also bring their own personal values and beliefs. These values and beliefs are important to the business since they give a sense of emotional depth to the interactions the business has with the general public. However, because every person’s values are different, there is a danger that those interactions can strike a discordant and confused note with the public as well. Because of this danger, a business has to make sure that it is presenting a uniform front, value-wise, to the world.

The unified front can be accomplished through the use of a set of business values. Business values are, in many cases, very similar to the personal values held by a business’ employees. The difference is that a set of business values applies to how the company, as a whole, behaves and interacts, as opposed to how any one individual behaves and interacts. This is an important decision since the business’s values overlie and complement each individual employee’s values. As a result, each employee connects with the world at large in a remarkably similar way.

The Specifics of Setting Values > Business Ethics

Posted August 31, 2015 By Callie

There is no doubt that business values are an important key to the success of any business. They bring a slew of important benefits to an organization – benefits that enable the people involved in the business to work in concert to achieve important goals like increased profitability and growth. However, many people remain stymied on how to actually go about setting up a set of values for their business. Do they choose the values themselves and impose them on the rest of the company? Do they allow everyone else to decide what the values are? What if they don’t agree with all of the values chosen? What if the rest of the business doesn’t agree with the values? Fortunately, setting values is not as difficult or complicated as it appears.

When setting you company’s values the first thing to keep in mind is clarity. You need to be exceptionally clear about what the nature of each value and how it applies to the people in the organization. This is not the time to use generalized, fuzzy verbiage. Clearly say what you mean and avoid confusion or worse, apathy.
Next make sure that the values are formalized. This means that they are not written down on a cocktail napkin or in the margin of a legal pad. The values you select are important. Therefore, make sure that they are properly memorialized and disseminated to everyone involved.

Next, take care to involve everyone in the business in the process of selecting the values. Nothing will leave your colleagues colder about the value set than excluding them from the process. However, involving everyone in the process doesn’t mean that your own personal voice and style, as the owner of the business, has been silenced. You still have a say. You need to lead the process without dictating the process. It’s a fine line, but you need to walk it if you’re going to end up with a set of values that are accepted company-wide.

Finally, you need to lead by example. Everyone in the business will be looking at you after the set of business values has been adopted. Your behavior will tell them whether the values are a living document that guides behavior or just a bunch of words that everyone pays lip service to. If your serious about obtaining the benefits of the value set for your business, then you have to be prepared to live those values every day.

The Alchemy of Business Values > Business Ethics

Posted August 31, 2015 By Callie

A common problem many business owners face is how to keep their businesses competitive. Let’s face it. Many times the day to day grind of a job can begin to wear on anyone. The combination of routine tasks and sudden deadlines can serve to dull the edge of creativity and put out the spark of inspiration. A lackluster miasma can begin to creep through an organization’s ranks. One person’s lack initiative can be contagious. It’s difficult to keep striving for success when no one else seems to care. If this situation continues long enough, it can begin to seriously affect a business’s ability to compete. Another shop with more energy and fire will begin to grab the market share. Luckily, there’s a solution that can turn things around.

A finely tuned set of business value can have an alchemical effect on a business’s lack of morale. Business values can turn the lead of uninspired, unproductive behavior into the gold of inspired, productive behavior almost overnight. Here’s how it works.

First of all, business values act to change behavior because they influence an employee’s attitude toward their job in particular and the overall business in general. By promulgating a code of conduct, and standing behind that code from the top down, a business sends a strong message to their employees that they are more than a cog in a machine. It sends a message that they, and every other individual associated with the business are a part of a team, with no one actor being more important than the others. If one person fails, everyone fails. If one person needs help, the whole organization is there is help. Everyone stands or falls together. This kind of message provides inspiration and accountability throughout the business. If one person’s output is less than expected, they are called to task by their own peers, not management. It’s that type of answerability that begins to make the business a competitive powerhouse.

In addition, business values also act to promote success throughout the entire culture of the organization. People whose daily behavior reflects the idea and spirit of those values are recognized and rewarded for their efforts. Other’s see this recognition and reward and are inspired to make positive changes in their own behaviors. Gradually, the idea and the spirit of the company’s set of values begin to positively influence everyone involved. The values the business decided to adopt act to transform the business completely.