Management April 12, 2011 Last updated April 12th, 2011 2,038 Reads share

The Challenge Of Honesty

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This sounds like a total contradiction. How can there be any challenge to being honest?

  • Honest with our customers.
  • Honest with our team.
  • Honest with our shareholders.

When things are going well, there is no challenge at all to being honest.

Corners are not being cut. Investment is being made in key services. Staff are being hired.

On the other hand, when things are not quite going according to plan, we have to “make do”.

Exaggeration of capability becomes common place.

We have to, otherwise we’d win no more business and things would get worse.

At least, that’s the argument that is put forward to justify selling above our capability.

This works if, when you get that piece of work, you had planned on investing in the resources necessary to ensure that you deliver that project/service/product effectively and to the satisfaction of a customer.

But what happens if that piece of work is needed to keep our business afloat? There is no chance of further outgoings and the business will have to manage with the resources that he has.

There are a few things to consider including;

  1. Are we going to be delivering 50% above our capability of 5% – there is a huge difference.
  2. We only need to do this for a few weeks or for the duration of the contract. A few weeks you can get away with, the contract duration – probably not.
  3. Are our team going to be able to cope with the extra workload, or is this job the straw that breaks the camels back and they head for other, less stressful opportunities?

All very valid questions.

But not the right questions or concerns.

Surely brand and reputation are the most important considerations? And by direct correlation, your customer.

  • Your customer who had put their faith in you to do a good job.
  • Your customer who is writing the cheque that is keeping you in business.
  • Your customer who decided you were being truthful with you capabilities to deliver.

If your customer does not get what they paid for, what they were expecting, your brand can be damaged beyond repair. No reference site. Poor media coverage. A competitor learning your woes.

Could you recover? Do you deserve to recover?

So what is the right balance to take?

If we don’t take the job – our business could go under and that would be worse than struggling to deliver. If we do take the job, then we may fail to deliver and our business could go under anyway as our customers frustration increases.

We can’t tell our customers that we are struggling – otherwise they won’t come to us in the first place.

For me, the answer is obviously to keep assessing your business and client base to ensure that you are not in this position.

Easily stated but not so easy in recessionary times.

So we come back to honesty.

Perhaps the most important person to be honest with is yourself – the business owner/manager. What are you prepared to accept and what truths do you want to live by?

What are your thoughts?

Photo: Comicsmudge


Barney Austen

Barney Austen

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