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Reply To: Enforcing good ethics within your agency

Chip Griffin
March 9, 2022 at 5:04 pm #15689

As an industry, we seem to go through cycles where ethics garner increased attention.

Of course, ethical behavior isn’t an on-again, off-again thing. We all need to do our part to instill a sense of ethics in our employees, but we also need to be prepared to push back against potentially unethical requests from clients.

Every small agency’s culture is a function of its ownership — and that includes ethical standards. Your team will end up adopting much of the behavior you model yourself.

You need to be clear about what your ethical standards are (including those that you think may be too obvious to mention) so that team members understand your expectations. Then you need to abide by those yourself.

Ethical lapses tend to come about most frequently in agencies when employees feel pressure to get more results in less time and they end up cutting corners in an attempt to get them. A close second is when employees act as order-takers from clients to keep them happy, without even considering whether it requires unethical behavior to complete the task.

Be sure that you are creating an environment where employees can come to you if they feel as if they are being asked to do something unethical or if expectations can’t be met with reasonable, ethical effort.

Finally, if you uncover unethical behavior, you need to be prepared to address it. You can’t let it slide because it involves a top performer or your largest client. If you normalize one ethical lapse, it will undoubtedly lead to others.

Chip Griffin founded the Small Agency Growth Alliance (SAGA) to help PR and marketing agency owners achieve their goals.

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