Character Test

Over the past 23 years since starting McClain Group, I have been fortunate to work with dozens of companies assisting with human resource support, training, strategic planning, and recruiting. More recently, I have been busy working with companies in the area of human resource compliance. The issues range from I9 compliance to correct job classifications for all positions. With proposed changes to wage and hour regulations to take effect in 2016, many companies will be caught by surprise.

My goal with every client is to put them in a position to reduce their potential exposure. In a recent conversation with my wife about these issues, she commented “but it only really matters if you get caught, right?” Her question was not posed because she thinks that way. She is the most ethical, honest, morale, and kindest person I know. Her point was that just because companies are not following state legislative guidelines (E-Verify for all new hires) or classifying employees as exempt when they should be following overtime guidelines, it will only cost a company if the practices are uncovered by an auditor or investigator from a government agency.

Her question made me think about other instances where “it only matters if you get caught”. Let me say up front that most of the instances where my clients are non-compliant are totally unintentional. They are working hard just to take care of their customers and employees. They are focused on what they know and do best….the core of their business. Many of the issues I uncover are not always just common sense. One has to KNOW what is correct.

What about those times we know what we are doing it incorrect or just plain wrong, but we do it anyway. Now, I am not talking about going 74 on the interstate when the speed limit is 65. Most of us do that. I am referring to those larger morale and ethical issues where a decision has to be made to do it right or just take the chance you won’t get caught.

In an earlier article, I wrote about lessons I learned from my dad. There is another story I did not tell that taught me a valuable lesson on this topic. As a reminder, I grew up in the shoes business and my dad had a shoe repair shop. A customer had brought in a very expensive pair of leather shoes that required new soles and heels. During the course of sewing the sole on one of the shoes, my dad accidently got a piece of the leather caught in the machine and sewed the top of the shoe to the sole. He repaired his mistake and when completed, there was no evidence of the accident. I was standing at the counter when the customer came in and my dad handed him the shoes and said “that will be no charge”. The customer was confused and asked why. My dad explained what he had done, but the customer commented “but I can’t tell where you messed up!” My dad’s response: “But I know.” That spoke volumes to me as a kid about integrity, honesty, and character.

John Wooden, the famed basketball coach from UCLA who won 10 NCAA national championships in 12 years once said, “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” Every day we are faced with decisions, some small and others that have a greater impact. We have choices to do the right thing or not. We have moments where that little voice says, “but if I don’t get caught…….” How will you respond?

John Wooden had another quote that is not as well known. “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

Now that is something really important to think about.

To Your Success!

Richard Davis, SHRM-SCP, SPHR
McClain Group, LLC
Twitter: @PIPability


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