In this edition of Wash Wisdom, we cover tips for creating an ethical business culture and going into business with a partner.

Creating an ethical business culture

In the article “Tips to Create an Ethical Business Culture” by contributor Justin O. Walker on business.com, a domino effect can start once employees see other employees skirting the rules, and those who abide by the rules may fear speaking up because of social pressure. “According to a 2013 study done by the Ethics Resource Center, 41 percent of U.S. workers reported that they had observed unethical or illegal misconduct while on the job,” Walker says. “While not all of these incidents were likely major, small ethical lapses tend to grow into major missteps for companies.”

A business culture is not just a compilation of the employee handbook and company mission statement. It can include both how employees dress for work and how they interact with management and customers, among other behaviors. Creating an ethical business culture means creating an environment where it is easy to do the right thing and where doing the wrong thing will get you punished or fired. An ethical business culture also focuses on honesty, fairness, employee rights, equal pay, loyalty and non-discrimination. Here are some tips Walker offers for creating an ethical business culture:

  • Hold everyone to the same standard. When it comes to company policies, make sure to treat both managers and staff the same way in regards to how they follow (or don’t follow) those procedures; don’t let one or the other off easy for ignoring them. “This allows all employees to put the work ahead of their own interests, regardless of their individual ranks or roles within the company,” Walker says.
  • Make sure employees have what they need to complete their jobs. If employees have the proper resources and authority to complete their jobs, then they will be able to take pride in their work and align themselves with the values and goals of the company. An additional aspect of this is to make sure the company respects the rights and dignity of all employees.

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  • Make employees feel comfortable reporting unethical conduct. Not only should all employees receive training on the company’s workplace conduct, but you should also encourage them to report any unethical behavior, such as discrimination or harassment, that they see or experience. Be sure to have the proper channels in place so that employees know how to report these incidents to you. Also, do not make employees feel like they will be punished for reporting such behaviors.
  • Be transparent about rewards policies. The criteria for your performance, pay and promotion policies should be made explicitly clear to all employees, so that they understand how you come to the decision of who to reward. By making this information visible, you avoid rewarding those who violate your company’s ethical business culture.

Find the original article here.

5 tips for going into business with a partner

According to the article “5 Tips for Starting a Company With a Partner ¾ and Not Regretting It” by contributor David Nilssen on Fortune’s website, choosing to start a business with a partner is like entering a marriage and not a decision to make lightly. It may not be the best option for entrepreneurs who have a specific vision in mind or who like to remain in control.

However, Nilssen says, having a business partner can not only help your business grow, but it can also help you grow as a leader. And, once again, as often happens in a marriage, “You want to choose someone who balances out your strengths and weaknesses, someone you trust and respect, and ultimately, someone with whom you want to share both the positives and negatives of owning a business.” As such, Nilssen offers these things to keep in mind when considering going into business with a partner:

  • You want to balance your strengths and weaknesses. According to Nilssen,Every high-performing team has a producer, innovator, stabilizer, and unifier — all necessary for the business to thrive.” Most people only excel in two of these areas, so having someone who can balance out the other aspects will help your business be able to optimally handle any situation.
  • You lack funds to hire others. Sometimes, the actual founder of a company will partner with someone else because he or she cannot afford to hire that person. That partner status and share in the business can be enough incentive to persuade someone into joining the team, and you don’t end up spending more money than you have.
  • You need to challenge yourself. Finding a partner who will confront you and challenge you to think differently can counteract any single- or narrow-mindedness that a sole business owner might have when making executive decisions.
  • You will have to keep strengthening your relationship. The demands of a business can easily make business partners grow apart. However, because you spend so much time working together, it’s important to nurture your personal relationship and stay close.
  • You should make a contract. Being a partner does not necessarily mean splitting the company 50-50. In fact, that is one of the worst ways to split a company because it can result in decision stalemates. If you wish, for example, to acquire another company but your partner does not and you both have equal say, the stalemate can not only affect your business, but it can also put tension in your personal relationship. One person must always have the final call. In addition, Nilssen highly suggests having a “business pre-nup” set up from the beginning so that you will both know what to expect should one or both of you decide to leave. Having a contract can keep relationships from dissolving or being impacted if and when the time comes to part ways.

Read the full article here.