Some of the most important lessons in business and management are actually some of the most simple ones because they stem from values and beliefs with which we all are familiar. These include the belief that keeping promises is an important and admirable quality.
Adhering to such principles can help inform almost every aspect of sound management and business practice -- from how we hire and fire, to how we treat clients and customers and everything in between.
The idea we can apply values to how we manage and run businesses is not new. Management consultants have been calling on organizations to use core values and beliefs to articulate their purpose, practices and various other operational elements of their organizations. But the application of values and beliefs to management practices does not have to be as cumbersome as engaging a consultant.
The opportunity for companies to show they can make and keep promises begins at recruitment. Organizations are often called upon to manage the employment brand by painting a pleasant picture of organizations. However, they would be best served by presenting a well-rounded picture -- both the good and the not so good.
That is why job previews are again becoming popular. In a preview, job candidates are given face time with the hiring manager and a few of their prospective colleagues so they can ask the kinds of questions savvy recruits want to ask.
Questions such as "What is it like to work here? What are the hours like? Who do I need to watch out for? What does a typical day look like?" These can help everyone involved make more informed decisions and help organizations keep promises.
One of the top complaints I hear from mid-and entry-level staff is that they were promised things during recruitment that have not come to be. Promises such as: "There is a lot of room to grow here;" "there are tremendous opportunities for people like you here;" or even "we believe in autonomy and continuous learning."
However, often companies cannot fulfill these promises. Broken promises can lead to losing great employees or worse, keeping dissatisfied and disengaged employees.
Employers can also apply the value of promise keeping by actively taking an interest in and developing the careers of employees. When a company promises "opportunities for growth" it could be provided, for example, by something as simple as giving junior employees the chance to be part of a big client meeting they they would not otherwise be part of.
The thing about applying simple, common values to management practices is the more it's done the more integrated the company becomes and the more easily they can arrive at policies, practices and processes. When companies speak of values and act upon them consistently, the more they are seen to have integrity.
The alternative is lack of integrity, and it all begins with how one person applies simple values to the workplace. When an employee is given promises that are not kept, it does not take long for them to do the same thing, and on it goes, right down to the customer.
So what begins as a simple sell-job to a talented customer service representative, can end as a broken promise to a customer, and too many of these instances can end up in lost revenue.