Developing a culture of candour is smart business. It strengthens relationships and helps your company to retain customers while attracting new ones.
Fall on your sword
Candour and accountability are choices. It’s not always easy to own up to a mistake, but it’s the right thing to do. At Quartet, when we make a mistake we always acknowledge it and speak with truth and candour.
We encountered a six-figure problem in 2010. Through a clerical error by one of our employees, a client wasn’t charged for their long distance calls for roughly eight months. This developed into a large sum of money.
Instead of hiding the mistake, we contacted the client immediately and explained the situation and took ownership for the error. Through open discussion we came to an acceptable solution for each party—one we were both satisfied with.
It’s not always easy
Withholding information is never an option for Quartet, nor should it be for any business. Don’t be afraid to take accountability and admit when there is a problem, even when it’s not easy.
Professor David Grayson at the Cranfield School of Management wrote in Director Magazine, “If you seriously want to restore trust, you’ve got to engage people. A key part of that is to explain what you’re doing, give evidence for what you’re doing and the progress that you’re making so that people can make informed decisions.”
Embracing transparency can add value to your business and serve as a competitive advantage. Customers respect ethical behavior and are attracted to companies that speak with candour.
Michael McCain, CEO of Maple Leaf Foods, proved the value of candour and accountability when he made a public apology after the 2008 listeria outbreak in a Toronto plant. Due to McCain’s open communications with the public, there has been minimal residual damage to the Maple Leaf brand.
Practice what you preach
Our clients recognize that speaking in candour is partly what makes Quartet unique. It makes us a great company to work for, and a better company to do business with.
Transparency is not always easy, but it’s the best policy. It’s a matter of trust.