Over the past week alone we have seen both 7-Eleven and Myer grace our headlines facing claims of underpaying wages. Companies are cutting corners to save costs everyday, and the harsh reality is that for many more it simply hasn’t become public knowledge yet. Is compromising on values in order to make a profit the right thing to do? As human beings we are naturally driven to cut corners, and it takes a very strong mindset to identify when it can be harmful to others and the environment around us.
While I do acknowledge that cutting corners is the hallmark of an intelligent person finding better, faster ways to do things; it is only acceptable as long as it is ecologically friendly. A shortcut should not harm anyone in the process, and should have a minimum impact on the surrounding environment or ecosystem. In a small business environment such as a real estate office, for example, if taking a shortcut is going to create unhappiness, then it is simply not worth taking.
On the other hand, should you take a shortcut because it speeds up the process for clients without carrying any negative consequences, then it is a worthwhile one. When faced with the opportunity to take a shortcut, it is critical to have foresight and the ability to analyse whether your actions will impact either directly or indirectly on the business. You must also consider the possible consequences it may have on your team, clients and private life.
There have always been honest, hardworking companies around and there have always been companies at the other end of the spectrum. The dilemma lies at the head of the organisation. The behaviour that management promotes, rewards, and most importantly punishes sets a precedent for those who follow. Reward and punishment must go hand in hand if it is going to be effective. Focusing solely on reward doesn’t necessarily prevent people from doing the wrong thing, especially when they know it can be hidden.
It seems as though society has adopted the mindset that making a profit is of more importance than upholding values such as honesty, which is causing the line that separates right from wrong to become increasingly blurred. The problem arises when profit stands in the way of morals, and suddenly breaking the rules becomes justifiable, as long as this end result is reached. Allowing your focus to shift entirely onto short-term success rather than true fulfilment can cause this lapse in ethics.
You pay at least two prices when you cut a corner; one before and one after. Some opportunities may disguise themselves as shortcuts, but end up demanding so many resources, either from the office or manpower that is not worthwhile. Imagine purchasing a brand new car only to discover that it had been built with second hand parts to “save costs”. Sure, the company that sold it to you would have saved money in the short-term, but what worth does this carry when compared to the price paid once the truth has been exposed? A small shortcut taken in the present may become one detrimental problem in the future.
Quite often, the ramifications that follow a shortcut outweigh its original benefit. One must consider this before deciding to cut a corner. Unfortunately, most people would rather spend time trying to fix the ramifications they have created rather than taking the time to consider whether the corner is truly worth cutting or not in the first place.
In the end, you must always apply one simple rule: treat others as you would like to be treated yourself. Should cutting a corner harm anyone in any way, then the shortcut is not to be taken. Leading an honest life should always take priority above anything else. Your values may need to be ranked differently in order to achieve this. If you rank success above honesty, chances are that on your journey to success you will find yourself taking a few wrong turns and breaking the rules to get there. Honesty and hard work are the only foundations to success.
Quite often it is the end goal that justifies the means. It takes practice, self-discipline and a strong set of values to identify what is right from wrong. Have the courage to stand by what is right, even if the wrong thing takes you there faster. In the end, we are not here alone and if we all strived to do the very best that we are capable of, most of society’s issues would not even exist today.