I can’t believe that I am having to write this but since it is one of the core values of my clients, I think it’s important. When I googled “honesty small business” what came up was honesty and integrity. I thought it was an interesting result because I really don’t see them as one in the same. So I thought I’d look at a couple of definitions.
The quality or fact of being honest; uprightness and fairness.
truthfulness, sincerity, or frankness.
freedom from deceit or fraud.
Upright, fair, truthful, sincere, frank, free of deceit or fraud. The only word here that has me thinking of integrity is ‘upright’. So I thought, what if we look at the other parts of honesty and see how it applies and benefits small business. It’s all good spouting that honesty is good for small business, I know I need to know why.
Honesty, fairness and small business
Let’s not confuse fair with being equitable or even. In this instance fairness in honesty is similar to being ‘just’ or ‘true’.
As a business owner, it’s important to be fair with any person you come into contact with. Though it’s more important to be fair with yourself.
I think what is crucial to the ability to do this is an understanding of what is just or true (or honest) for each of us. Acknowledging and understanding that this differs from person to person, from customer to owner to staff (and when we shift between these roles) is important to how effective we are with fairness.
This continues on to the realisation that it is what is just, true, fair, or honest for the other person and ensuring that our actions and words align with this.
I have found that all of this is incredibly true and powerful when managing staff. The realisation that it can differ for my staff to myself and to the business is important to how successful I was and how happy and effective my staff were.
I encourage you to go back and have a look at what drives business owners, customers, and staff to get the full benefit from honesty to this ends.
Truth, freedom from deceit and honesty in small business
I’ve bundled truth & freedom from deceit together as they are much of a muchness. To be frank (see what I did there) they are the core of my definition of honesty.
I was watching Patrick Mouratoglou on Netflix the other night and he said how he lied to Serena Williams to get her to play better. He said it was ok because it had the desired effect. While she went on to win the tournament, I’m still not convinced that all clients would be happy if you told them a lie, even if it was what they needed to hear, so that it had the right outcome.
The reason I say this is that it can impact a relationship. “I did it because it was the best thing for you” only goes so far on a bed of deceit. What then happens is that we begin to question what other lies have been told or if we can trust all the things that you say or do.
Now imagine it was a staff member. How does that impact a strong employee/employer relationship? Pretty rocky ground to be building on.
Sincerity and honesty in small business
I honestly had to look up a definition of sincerity. It came back with “freedom from hypocrisy”. People who know me well know that hypocrisy is a pet peeve of mine. I can’t stand it.
Rules for one and not another. Double standards. Do as I say and not as I do. To me, this is hypocrisy. Preferential treatment can create resentment and distrust by those not benefiting. Even those people who are simple observers can feel this way.
With so much of business life played out online, why would we want to create resentment? This does not mean that preferential treatment should not be given to members, VIPs and the like. This system provides a known framework where observers will understand that preference is being given for a reason. It’s when it happens without this framework that businesses can trip up.
Frankness and honesty in small business
Can I be honest? Yep, I’m frank. But there is a fine line between it and being rude. There is a right way to tell someone the truth, and it isn’t in a feedback sandwich.
Again, being frank really relies on understanding what drives that other person in the particular situation. It differs for each of us and from situation to situation. (and no that’s not hypocrisy)
Having been on the receiving end of frank (and fearless) advice, I honestly respect the person more for having the courage to deliver the information. It takes skill, insight, and courage to effectively pull it off. It also strengthens a relationship knowing that the other person feels so strongly for you that they are willing to risk something to tell you something that you may not want to but need to hear.
Why is honesty important to small business?
It’s a relationship and business builder. It can be a point of difference. It shows a deep understanding and commitment to the receiver. It’s a skill builder.
If you’d like to understand more about what drives you, your customers, or your staff so that you can effectively use honesty in your business, then I encourage you to book a free preliminary 30 minute call.