Honesty is the best policy, Transparency is the key

Honesty is the best policy, Transparency is the key

Yesterday I was lucky enough to watch a presentation from a client and friend of Optix who has taken his business from a couple of million turnover to 30+ in just 6-7 years. Oh and the best bit – he only has around 40 staff. He talked about his meteoric growth and the lessons they learnt along the way. Some of the stories were gob smacking to say the least.

I live to learn from people like this. I think anyone who can’t sit and soak in that kind of information is missing such a trick. If you get the chance to talk to people who’ve ‘been there, done that’ take it with open arms, you’ll learn so much.

One thing that shone through from his presentation was the need to be transparent and honest in business. He particularly referenced his relationship with his bank manager which I thought was interesting. If anything goes financially wrong in his business he explains it straight away to their bank and similarly, he shares good news too. He feels strongly that this honest and transparent relationship means that when it comes to needing help then everyone knows the score and he’s more likely to get it. I can see his logic and while I have a great relationship with my bank manager, its probably not as solid as his is – something I’ve taken away to work on.
If you make a mistake, own up. Face it down and deal with it. Sticking your head in the sand or trying to hide something or worse hoping no one finds out will lead you down a dark path, one where you’re bound to be found out and everything will look worse on you if you choose that route.

If you’re starting in business make it your mantra, if you’ve been going a while, perhaps you need to revisit your thoughts on this and make sure your team(s) sing from the same sheet. My team at Optix know my feelings on being transparent and see-through. I believe in this digitally connected world, there is no place for business with dirty laundry.

photo courtesy of Urbanshoregirl

Now Your Thoughts

  • I’m very interested to hear if you have stories where you’ve owned up to a mistake and it’s paid off hugely.

The No 1. Trait I want from my staff

Someone asked me today, “Alastair, what’s the number one trait you expect or want from your staff”. Hmm interesting – this made me think very hard. Some of the obvious ones sprang to mind immediately:

  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Skilled
  • Motivated
  • Hard Working

They all came close.

Do you know what I ended up answering and on reflection still consider up there at the top? (enough to write a post about it! at least!)

Someone who ‘Accepts Responsibility’

What do I mean by this?

This person never blames anyone else, they accept responsibility themselves in a positive way and offer a solution which they learn from and better themselves with. In sales especially this is very important and easy to explain using the following example:

Sales person A returns from a pitch, and say’s the following: “Boss we didn’t get it because the customer doesn’t have the money just now – times have been tight because of the recession and the chips are down – it’s hard out there right now.”

Sales person B returns from the same pitch and say’s, “Boss I didn’t get the pitch for these two reasons – I didn’t qualify the person hard enough, so hadn’t realised they didn’t have the right budget for our product and I didn’t build a good enough relationship with the decision maker. I tell you what though, I’m not going to make the same mistakes again and I’ll nail the next one Boss.”

Who accepted responsibility in that scenario? Who would you rather have working for you? Yes of course, the second guy right?

This doesn’t just apply in sales, it happens in all areas of business and I personally want to surround myself with people who have the ability to accept responsibility. If someone comes to me and says they made a mistake but they’ve learnt or they know how to fix it then that’s a HUGE tick in the box. If they come to me blaming someone else or some external factor then it has the opposite effect.

There is a great article on the Livestrong Blog which goes into far more detail about the topic and is well worth a read if you agree with my points above: http://www.livestrong.com/article/14698-accepting-personal-responsibility/

Now Your Thoughts

  • Don’t forget that when you employ people, you are looking for things like this from an early stage – what sort of questioning could you use to coax this kind of personality trait out of someone?
  • What would you say the No1 trait you look for in your staff is?