07 January 2006

Ethics and your value-system

There’s an old saying: “You can’t cheat an honest man.” If you can’t be tempted, you can’t be cheated.

In most cases, you needn’t get dragged into things you don’t want to. But sometimes, it’s unavoidable. I’ve often got it all wrong and suffered for it. So, I’ve written it down here more for myself than anyone else. What I have to say here may sound moralistic, but it’s worth reading once. At worst, it’ll make you a good human being. So, here goes:

Stay within your own ethics and value-system. Try to achieve your personal and organisational goals while staying within this system. Behave in ways you can be proud of. Build yourself a good reputation. It will give you confidence and strength in times of adversity.

Be open and honest. With yourself and your colleagues. People find it difficult to hold things against you if you’re open and honest. It builds trust – which is the essence of any relationship. And, a deterrent to office politics. But, there’s a downside: Politically-motivated people may see this as your weakness and use it to their advantage.

Interact with people as much as you can. Treat them well. Respect your colleagues and their work. Learn to see the good things in people and praise them. Always. Never shame or blame your colleagues or subordinates in front of others. If you have to, criticise their ideas, not their personalities. Don’t pick fights. If you’ve argued with someone and lost your cool, go back and apologise. Don’'t burn your bridges. Getting along well with others – at all levels and across job functions – greatly reduces chances of opposition. And, is viewed as a professional strength by senior management.

Communicate. Clearly and precisely. With everyone, without prejudice. Be a good listener, but don’t pass on what you hear. Much of it is likely to be gossip. Don’t encourage gossip. Prevent rumours by consistently communicating with your colleagues. If you can, correct false rumours immediately. Listen to whatever is being said without getting too emotional or losing your temper. Learn to read your own emotions and that of others. To avoid misinterpretation, communicate in person whenever you can. Learn to address problems using appropriate channels, and words. Identify and go directly to the source of the problem or to a manager who could address the issue.

If you find someone successful, who is particularly effective in getting things done without employing underhanded means, learn to model his or her behaviour.

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