Hoffman, Hartman and others warn against getting too smug. Hubris is your worst enemy. "Being an ethical company is a job that never has completion," says Hoffman. "It's a constant process rather than an end product."
Properly instilled ethical values become your company's sinew. Your original employees intrinsically understand the values and convey them to new hires. This is crucial because as you grow, you'll lose the ability to maintain the one-on-one relationships that engender trust. At some point past 100 employees, it becomes too difficult. That's why midsized companies often fail to instill trust, says Walker.
"Entrepreneurs put together companies by establishing relationships with people built on trust," says the University of Virginia's Freeman. "As the company gets bigger, entrepreneurs may not focus on that as much as they did in the beginning. Once they start thinking about the company as a regular business, they forget what actually made it successful in the first place."
You may inevitably have to spend more time worrying about investors and other constituencies of growing enterprises. But if you've laid the ethical groundwork, you'll be trusted in those new relationships. And your employees, following your lead, will continue to instill trust in your company among customers and suppliers.
|Spoilers exist. Occasionally,
individuals will act in ways that ruin trust in your business. Here
are some steps you should take to prepare for and recover from the
- Leading Resources Inc.
(800) 598-7662, http://www.leadingresources.com
- Walker Information Inc.
(800) 339-3434, http://www.walkerinfo.com