I’d like to continue expanding upon the ten traits described in the Withum Way, all of which define our culture and the behaviors which best exemplify our people. Today we will cover point five:
5. Demand Integrity. One of Fred Withum’s favorite sayings was, “Our services are for sale; not our integrity.” This truism still applies, as Withum staff continue to uphold the highest levels of values and ethics, and expect the same from those with whom they work.
The goal of every professional service provider is to be a ‘trusted advisor’ to his or her clients. Being honest and truthful is the basis of a trusting, valued relationship. But sometimes the truth hurts, especially when it negatively affects the bottom line. Your client may not want to hear what you have to say all the time, but in the long run, they will respect you more for having maintained your integrity and principles, guiding them to make the best decisions.
On the flip side, how do you address a situation when you find yourself in the wrong? Remember this: honesty and transparency about mistakes actually increases your credibility and builds trust with clients. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s just a fact of life. It’s how you handle the mistakes which makes all the difference. Of course, no matter how honest and transparent you are, continually making mistakes will cause you to lose credibility and lose the client! However, a good client will not expect everything to always go perfectly. Here are a few tips on how to best address an error with a client:
- First, apologize sincerely.
- Next, state what happened. Be honest, be succinct, but don’t berate yourself with, “I’m such an idiot…” Rather, say, “In my effort to meet the deadline, I failed to double check the file.”
- Next, share how you are going to fix it. Provide a solution that will meet the client’s needs.
- Finally, share how you will make sure it never happens again.
Be true to yourself and your core values, and ultimately, things will work out for all parties involved.