Saturday, November 5, 2011

Like Shooting Carp in a Barrel

Preparing for a sermon on integrity, a pastor asked me late one Friday for some examples of integrity in business. It took less than three minutes to recall several bad examples:

  • Awarding bonuses in a year when there have been lay-offs (or in BP's case, safety bonuses in the year of the Big Spill)
  • Asking employees to do work "for free" at the owner's house as a favor to the owner (abuse of influence)
  • Asking employees to build the owner a ice fishing house on co. Time
  • Employees wasting time on the computer or taking excessive breaks
  • Ignoring customers while texting or talking on the phone
  • Not completing projects on time because there are no penalties and therefore less urgency or caring about the promise
  • Encouraging teamwork but rewarding certain individuals (like in sales or projects)
  • Bemoaning Christmas commercialism but buckling to the retail pressure of starting Xmas promotions at Halloween
It took me a little longer to come up with some good examples:

  • Instead of laying off (or furloughing) employees, they pay for their time helping at non-profits for some hours per week, or for several weeks or months. They realize slimmer profits are better than paying out for hiring and training expenses later. They also realize that the corporation can afford the "hit" better than the families of the employees.
  • Retailers who will advise customers of better deals at their competitors' businesses
  • Companies who pay for others' mistakes, often their customers (like product falling in the bathtub or motors that are overloaded or abused).
Maybe that's why business people get some bad exposure in the media, especially television and movies. There are fewer good examples than bad examples. It's just too easy, like shooting carp in a barrel, to find a lack of integrity.

Each of us needs to change that.

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