Miss Manners might be able to dispense pretty good advice about which spoon to use for the soup at a formal dinner, but for a quick refresher on how you should conduct yourself in business, we suggest you head for the Bible. Proverbs is a good place to start, though there are certainly other books as well. More to the point of the matter, we all must realize there is a godly way to undertake your business endeavors and then there is something we all should do a lot less of, and that is rely on our human instincts for guidance.
Set the Example
The first Biblical business manner up for discussion is setting a good example, especially if you’re the boss. How on earth can you expect employees to follow rules you set up if you don’t observe them yourself? While you might be the boss, acting like you’re above the law is the quickest way to undermine your authority all the way around. The particular text that applies comes from 1 Peter 2:1, where Peter instructed that we are to put aside all hypocrisy. Good advice, Peter. Talk is cheap. Action is what counts. Do as you say and watch your staff fall into line like well-trained little mice. For a specific example, let’s look at punctuality. If the rule is that everyone gets to the office on time, don’t let yourself be the one caught dragging in five minutes late and expect no one will notice. They’ll notice. Oh, how they’ll notice, and then the resentment sets in.
Modern society has a problem when it comes to holding direct, focused conversations. We tend to avoid the unpleasantness of blunt speech by using humor as a deflector shield. Paul, writing in 2 Timothy 2:16, told us to “Avoid worthless, foolish talk that leads to more godless behavior.” We’re not here to claim there’s never a time for fun, but it’s a real problem when people aren’t able to put on their serious hats and directly discuss an important topic. In an office environment, it might be related to not finishing a project on time. In that situation, both the accuser and defender are often tempted to sugarcoat the topic, beat around the bush, and never really get down to the nub of the matter. If you want the business to continue on a downward spiral into inefficiency and untrustworthiness, let things keep sliding along. But if you care about running your business according to God’s standards, push through the chatter and force a serious conversation that identifies and resolves the issue. If you’re uncomfortable withe the idea, you’re not alone. It’s human nature to want to take the easy, nonconfrontational road but that’s not what Jesus did and not what God wants you to do.
Is there a gray area between right and wrong when it comes to treating customers fairly? There better not be! Paul, who has been on our mind a lot today, speaks through 1 Thessalonians 4:6 to say, “..that no man transgress and defraud his brother…because the Lord is the avenger in all these things.” Do you want to cause God to shift into avenging mode because you couldn’t distinguish between right and wrong? We know we don’t. It’s really not that hard. Here are a few examples.
Example 1: You own a construction company and quote a customer $20,000 for a project. He agrees and signs the contract. Though you made the estimate as accurate as possible, you were able to complete the job for $18,000, saving some money on lower than expected materials costs. Do you owe the customer a $2,000 refund? No. You delivered what you promised and what was expected.
Example 2: You own a plumbing store and accidentally charge a customer $1.00 for a fitting that was erroneously priced. It should have only cost .80 cents. Do you shrug your shoulders, thinking it’s no big deal, and pocket the twenty cents? That’s a big NO, buckaroo. You made a mistake and overcharged. You should take all reasonable measures to locate the person and correct your error. This stuff builds the kind of goodwill and customer loyalty you can’t put a price tag on. Gain a reputation for this sort of attention to detail and fairness, and you will likely never lack for business.
To some people, such business suggestions seem trite and silly. At Solomon Success, our eternal response is this: If it’s important enough to be in the Bible, it’s important enough to pay attention to. You want to change the Bible? Talk to the guy upstairs, then come back and tell us how it went.
The Solomon Success Team
Flickr / Brett Jordan