Your Ethical Bearing Is Displayed In Everything That You Do — Everything Counts! So the answer is, ALL OF THEM! No, that’s not a smart alack answer. It is an accurate answer. Everything you do defines if you are ethical. Your Ethical Bearing Is Displayed In Everything That You Do — Everything Counts! Think about it. When is it okay to be unethical? The answer is NEVER!
What are the parts of your job – and your human interactions – to which fairness, honesty, respect, and “doing right” don’t apply? (Trick question: THERE ARE NONE!) Ethics is not a “sometimes” thing. It’s an all the time thing – and it’s reflected in everything you do. There are no time outs, no “too small to matter” issues, no “too busy to do it” excuses, no “too low on the hierarchy to make a difference” people.
Everyone is responsible … everything counts!
As you read this information, reflect on your own behavior. Congratulate yourself on the things you’re already doing and renew your commitment to continue doing them. More importantly, note those things you need to work on … the areas where you have the greatest opportunities to make ethical improvements. Once you’ve identified them, start fixing them.
1. Honor Your Promises and Commitments.
And that starts by keeping track of them. Set up a “What I Said I’d Do” section in your day planner or personal organizer, or in a small notebook. Record every commitment you make. Check the list daily as a reminder.
2. Do Your Business “In The Open.”
Unless it involves strategic, company-confidential information, do your business in a way that it is not hidden from those around you. Use this to set an ethics example for co-workers. If you’re comfortable “going public” with your actions and decisions, the chances are good that you’re operating in an ethical manner.
3. Pursue Compatible or “ . . .In A Way That . . .” Solutions.
When determining how you will approach tasks or what decisions you will make, ask yourself. “How can I do this in a way that is in line or compatible with the organizational mission, values, and business principles?” Make that caveat a regular part of your action-planning vocabulary.
4. Watch Out For “The Big Four”:
GREED – the drive to acquire or possess more and more in one’s self-interest;
SPEED – the motivation to cut corners in response to the speed the pace of business;
LAZINESS – taking the easy path of least effort and resistance;
HAZINESS – acting and reacting without thinking.
These are primary factors leading to unethical behavior. And they’re all temptations that must be fought.
5. Eliminate Offensive Words and Comments From Your Vocabulary.
Simply put: Watch your mouth! Derogatory terms and off-color jokes have no place at work. They’re degrading and unethical, and they can have legal repercussions. The words you use, and the jokes you tell, say a lot more about you than the people you’re referring to.
6. Respect Organizational Resources.
All organizations need to create revenue and control costs in order to survive. Most must make a profit. Don’t turn a blind eye to misusing supplies and resources, leaving lights on, requesting overnight shipping unnecessarily and other actions that expend the resources of the company needlessly. If each employee, representative, or volunteer avoids using only $100 less per year, imagine the amount of money that your business could save and put to more productive use.
7. Say NO To Negativity.
Ever notice how some people always seem to gravitate toward negative behaviors? You know them – they’re the folks who say things like “It’ll never work” before they even consider how to make it work. They’re the ones who openly criticize the organization, spread rumors about co-workers, moan, complain and try to pull others into their “woe is me” funk. Well, don’t be one of them! Negativity is counterproductive. It erodes integrity and sometimes fosters illegal acts. Negativity is wrong. This makes it unethical. Avoid it yourself, and discourage it in others.
8. Make Sure The Mission Matters.
Know and follow your organization’s mission regardless of whether it appears in a formal written statement or a service promise on advertisements and brochures. Be about what the business says it is about. If you don’t have a clear understanding of what the mission is, ask! You have the responsibility to understand it. Your supervisor or manager has the responsibility to clearly describe it to you so you do understand it. This will help you become the most effective and productive employee possible.
9. Tame The Blame.
Assigning blame is a destructive action that causes defensiveness and shapes an environment in which co-workers become afraid to apply innovation, creativity and risk taking. One simple but effective method for taming blame in a group is to identify a code word. This word can then be used by everyone to tactfully point out when someone has slipped into blaming mode and needs to switch to problem solving. Don’t view the problem as being the issue that something wasn’t accomplished or was done wrong. That is simply a symptom. The real problem is WHY it was not accomplished or WHY it was done wrong. Taking action to solve the basic issue will show you are more interested in determining the root of problems, not simply blaming people.
10. Be Truthful.
Lying is often the gut-level defensive reaction to perceived danger. When you feel the desire to hide the truth, take time to jot down what you will get out of a trusting relationship versus the short-term gain you might get out of evading the truth. Lying begins a dangerous cycle that breaks down trust and encourages additional lying. The long-term impact on you and the business is never worth the short-term possible benefit.
11. Embrace Racial, Cultural And Creative Diversity.
Many of the benefits society enjoys have come from a very diverse group of people from throughout the world. For an example, we all enjoy technological advances that were developed by creative types who also were different. Diversity is something to be embraced. It is a great strength and competitive business advantage.
12. Don’t Take What Isn’t Yours . . . Don’t Accept What You Haven’t Earned.
This is self-explanatory. It applies to everything from office supplies to “the credit” for work done by others.
13. Maintain Confidentiality.
If you agree to confidentiality, honor your agreement. If you can’t or won’t agree to keeping a confidence, make that clear before you accept the information.
14. Spread The “Straight Scoop.”
Don’t try to BS your way through an explanation or a sale. The short-term hassle you might save by doing that can come back to bite both you and your organization. And it’s just plain unfair to the people you deal with. Don’t know an answer? Tell the person you’ll get back with them. Then, do the necessary research. Pride yourself on being able to say that every answer you give is as correct as it can be. Ethics is about being and doing right, not sounding right.
15. “Means” Are Just As Important As “Ends.”
Be extremely cautious of the old “The end justifies the means” argument. Don’t work through a task only to find that the result has been tainted by the less-than-ethical way you chose to get there. Means are as important as ends and
16. Don’t Confuse “Cutting Corners” With Efficiency.
Efficiency involves finding ways to provide high quality goods and services while using less energy, time, or resources. Cutting comers is different. It is skipping steps and sacrificing quality and value for the sake of cost savings. It typically leads to sloppy work, unsafe work habits and unsatisfactory results over the long haul. Know the difference, and strive for efficiency.
17. Know Your Job – Inside and Out.
Take the initiative for learning everything you can about your organization, the products and services you provide, and your particular function within the business. Maintain your knowledge about the laws and regulations that pertain to what you do. Stay familiar with all of the brochures, announcements, advertisements, etc., that your organization sends out. Read industry-related publications available at your workplace. Ask for others’ assistance in developing the skills you need to properly represent your organization to the outside (and inside) world. Remember: If you want to be treated like a pro, you have to act like one!
18. Recognize Others’ Efforts, Contributions, and Ethical Behaviors.
When you recognize the positive actions of others, you not only help build a culture of appreciation, but you also encourage people to do more good things in the future.
19. Show What You Know.
Share your time, knowledge, and expertise with your co-workers. When you help someone else on the team “improve their game,” the entire team benefits, including you.
20. Go The Extra Mile.
Whether it’s a client, a boss or a peer who’s counting on you, do that little bit extra so he or she leaves the interaction wanting to return the favor. Who knows, maybe a customer will be so impressed that he or she writes a letter of commendation. Maybe it will be your boss giving you more responsibility or developmental opportunities. Or it could be a peer who works harder to lighten your load. Perhaps the result will be that your job is a bit more secure. Make the effort to go the extra mile. It’s a good thing to do. It can pay dividends.
Christine Kelly | Queen Bee & CEO | Viral Solutions LLC