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The Ethics Coach on Exit Strategy Etiquette The do's and don't of handling exit strategies and partnerships that have gone sour.

By Gael O'Brien

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Q: My contract with our salespeople says that if they make a sale but leave the company before the deal closes, they are not paid the commission. Is this policy ethical?

A: I don't think it is ethical or a good business strategy. The best way to attract talented people is to make it known that you treat staffers--current and former--fairly. Prospective customers sense when salespeople are upbeat about what they are selling. You may not be able to hold on to salespeople who get offers you can't match, but if they leave saying good things to their network about you and the company, your reputation grows exponentially. As you review your policy, consider taking the long-term view of the business and reputation you are building--the ROI for paying people what they've earned.

Q: I'm going to start a commercial cleaning business and need references to pitch client prospects. However, the only experience I have is through the cleaning company where I currently work. Is it unethical to ask one of my employer's clients for a reference?

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