Honour code of conduct for your business and life

Giselle P Hudson

I had an interesting experience recently at a tyre shop in Maraval.

Late last year, I realised that early in the New Year I would need two new tyres. Of course, I didn’t remember this until I started getting a very uncomfortable, bumpy ride. Now it was imperative that I visit a tyre shop – fast.

En route to buy doubles one morning I saw the tyre shop, took the number and figured that a little later that day I would give them a call. I called and called – no answer. I assumed that perhaps they didn’t work on Saturdays. So I waited until Monday and called again. Same thing. At this point I assumed that maybe the number that they displayed on the building was not working. It’s possible. It happens. I decided to simply “drop by”.

I got to the shop, parked my car and proceeded to reception. There were a couple other people there, with one guy behind a desk, staring into a computer screen. No acknowledgement, I shifted from one foot to the other, not sure what I was supposed to do. I waited. Eventually after he dealt with the others in the room he turned to me to ask why I was there.

After determining what tyres I needed and getting my car safely on the ramp, I asked him if said phone number, nicely displayed on the outside of the building was out of service. To my surprise it wasn’t. He then explained to me, that when I called, they were probably all outside working. I then said “you do realise that you could be losing business this way.” He replied that he did realise that, however, it wasn’t his problem. He was doing his job and if “they” (I presumed the owners of the establishment) knowing what the problem was (getting a receptionist for that branch), have not done anything, then there was nothing he could do. I then said, “You do realise the relationship between the number of customers patronising the business and your getting paid right?” He stuck to his guns. “I am doing my best. That is their problem.”

Now I understand how this guy feels. I would give him the benefit of the doubt that he might have told his boss what the situation was like, working without a receptionist. What would you do? What do you think is a viable solution?

If the operating standards of an organisation are low, if what they show employees is that it’s “ok” to be inefficient, then it follows, that the employees are going to reflect the same attitude.

It, however, does not make it right, especially when it comes to running a business.

Every business displays wonderful slogans on their walls, in their advertisements, about how great they are and what wonderful service they provide, yet the reality is that customers hardly feel the effects of these words.

My view is that each one of us needs to establish our own code of conduct. How will we operate? We must all take personal responsibility and not be “ok” with how “everybody” is doing “it”. This can hardly be an excuse.

At both the United States Air Force Academy and the US Military Academy at West Point, the incoming cadets swear to live by an honour code stating a minimum standard of ethical conduct. This code simply but powerfully reads: We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does. Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and live honourably, so help me God.

I encourage you to write your own personal honour code of conduct. On any given day you can review your conduct. Ask yourself:

• Did it hurt anyone – including me?

• Was it fair?

• Did it violate the Golden Rule?

• Was I told it was wrong?

• Did I feel bad when I did it?

Assess and change your behaviour accordingly.

Now regarding that employee – if he had a personal code of conduct he would understand on some level that he was not only hurting customers, that he was hurting himself and certainly violating the Golden Rule, as I’m sure he would not tolerate this elsewhere. And maybe he would have a different approach when chatting with his boss: “It’s not that I am bellyaching about having to field calls and service vehicles but it’s really affecting our ability to grow the business.”

What solutions did you come up with?

Maybe the company could invest in a cordless phone?

Perhaps he could give out his cell phone number to people who actually buy from them so that they won’t ever have to call the land line?

Maybe the company could provide a mobile phone for the business and change the displayed contact number?

I’m trying to find out who owns this business so that I could help them fix this profit leak.

In the meantime I suggest you write the following quote by Lao Tzu on a card and keep it close for easy reference.

"Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character, they become your destiny. Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none. Transcend political correctness and strive for human righteousness."

The bottom line: Successful people obey the preparatory principle of being best. Significant individuals live the advanced law of doing right.

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"Honour code of conduct for your business and life"

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