10 May 2010

Does Integrity Reside in Your Business?

Does Integrity Reside in Your Business?

By Cookie Tuminello

“Integrity is not a 90 percent thing, not a 95 percent thing; either you have it or you don’t.” – Peter Scotese

Opening up the newspaper or turning on the news can be a really scary act these days, which is why I don’t recommend doing either of these activities on a regular basis. It seems as if greed and lack of ethics are running rampant in every facet of our lives. The world of business has gotten so far out of hand that almost everyday the powers that be are uncovering yet another ponzi scheme or swindle scam that makes casualties out of honest, hard working folks who trusted the system and have now lost everything. What does it say about human beings who would sacrifice everything for the almighty dollar?

How did we get here? Better yet, how do we get back to what really matters, namely core values, trust, respect, and building relationships instead of tearing them down? Whatever happened to the word ‘integrity’ in our personal and professional lives?

By definition, integrity is the alignment of everything that we do, say, act, think, and be in a way that is respectful to ourselves and others. It’s not a 90 percent thing or a 95 percent thing: either you have it or you don’t. In other words, if your actions don’t match your mouth, it ain’t happening.

There was a time and not that long ago, where the customer depended on the honesty and integrity of the merchant they were doing business with and respected them for their principles. If a salesperson said that “X” was going to work, you simply accepted what they said at face value and believed them. Plus if “X” didn’t perform the way you expected, you got on the phone, called the store where you purchased the item, registered your dismay, and they promptly fixed the problem to YOUR satisfaction, not theirs.

For those of you who are reading this and saying, “Yeah, but Cookie, things are different these days. We’re living in a different world, and you seem to be stuck in the Dark Ages.” Um, nope, I’m not. Things have gotten way out of hand and it’s time for a return to what’s really important – values, integrity, and honesty. I’m seeing glimmers of light that a new way of doing business is rapidly approaching and I for one am glad to see it coming.

Here are 3 questions to ask yourself to see if you are walking your talk in your business:

1. How do I handle customer complaints? Do I put off returning customer calls because I know they might have a problem that I’ll have to deal with, or do I face them straight on, handle the situation immediately knowing that a satisfied customer is a repeat customer? It is twice as hard to secure new customers as it does to keep your existing ones happy, so take good care of the ones you already have. Build relationships, not adversaries.

2. Am I proactive instead of reactive? Do I willingly own up to an error in judgement on my behalf with both my customers and team? If I make a mistake, am I honest enough to stand up and admit it? Or do I shut up and wait for someone else to find the error and only then react? I can guarantee you that if you wait to get ‘found out’ you’re going to end up with egg on your face every time. And believe me when I tell you that no amount of soap can get you out of a sticky situation.

3. Am I working for the betterment of my customers or simply chasing a buck? Do I sincerely care that my customers and team members are happy to interact with me, or am I simply making a sale for the sake of the dollars in my bank account? If you’re working for the glory of the dollar, you’ll end up miserable. However, if you’re in business to serve your customers with the best possible experience, you’ll not only reap amazing financial benefits, but you’ll be able to sleep a whole lot better every night.

So folks, what’s it going to be? Honesty or lying? Dollar chasing or contentment? Integrity is an all or nothing thing. There are no grey areas. You’ve either got it or you don’t. When you’ve got integrity, you’ve got success and peace. Try it. It works

Cookie Tuminello, also known as ‘THE Team Builder of the South’, has been empowering CEO’s, managers, business owners, and team members and igniting productivity since 1999.

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