May 23, 2018
Back in undergrad I had an ethics professor that was obsessed with the German philosopher Immanuel Kant. Kant basically said that morality is derived not from man but from nature. That actions that disadvantage one person to the benefit of another are inherently immoral no matter how we try to justify the outcome.
He called his principle the “categorical imperative” and it very much applies to agency professionals.
To be truly ethical, the results of our actions cannot disadvantage one person to the benefit of another.
Agency professionals – by the mercurial nature of the business – have a tendency to act out of an abundance of self interest and ego. We look for an edge and compete for attention like our livelihoods depends on it. We constantly try to seek out ways around the categorical imperative. Unfortunately, there is none.
For instance, I’ve even seen people look for ways to make hay out of ideas that aren’t necessarily theirs. Maybe it’s borrowing or maybe it’s outright theft but they justify their actions because “it’s the nature of the game.”
Luckily, I’ve found myself working for an agency and actually a brand new client that puts a premium on the categorical imperative. The net impact of our actions both as agency professionals and as corporate citizens is always taken into account. We have to ask if what we’re doing is really moral or ethical or is it taking undue advantage?
In this case, the formula for morality isn’t rocket science….1) treat others with respect 2) give credit where credit is due, and 3) if you’re going to make hay – you better damn well grow your own.
You see, Kant was a big fan of the mathematical and interconnected nature of ethics. In short he said just like we aren’t exempt from certain absolute laws of morality, we are also not exempt from the consequences of our actions.
The formula for morality isn’t rocket science…1) treat others with respect 2) give credit where credit is due, and 3) if you’re going to make hay – you better damn well grow your own.
Stated another way: what goes around comes around. Ask yourself if you’re ready for the consequences of your attempts to get ahead?
February 10, 2014
It is often said you can love your job. The more important question I have is can, or should, your job love you back?
Sure, you get paid for what you do. However, there’s trust, dedication, and honesty required that borders on the same kind of love you would find in any relationship. Beyond the exchange of money for services is a relationship with your job that takes up just as much time, if not more than any familial or romantic relationship you have. Therefore, I think the question is perfectly valid.
I’m not talking about anything special. I’m simply talking about a gut check to see whether or not your passion for what you do and the way you treat your job is reflected or reciprocated in the way your job treats you?
Here are three questions you can ask yourself…
1. Does your job have a sense of responsibility to you as much as you have to it?
In many companies I’ve come across, they talk the talk of love. These companies will go into detail about how much they value their employees and how much of their success depends on their employees’ happiness. Unfortunately for many, that talk is cheap.
In the jobs that have truly loved me back, there are real support systems in place. My managers actively encourage me to develop myself and give me the time and the resources necessary to do so. Just like any real relationship, we are investing in each other because we care about our long-term viability.
2. Can you expect as much honesty from your job as it expects it from you?
At most jobs, you sign all sorts of things like an NDA, a privacy waiver and any multitude of documents that outline what the job expects from you. In those documents, they clearly outline the impact and repercussions of violating that trust.
In the jobs where I could say “yes” to that question, when the job violates my trust there is always an explanation and transparency. It is never just the “cost of doing business” that you forfeit your right to honesty in exchange for a paycheck. In fact with relationships romantic or not, an unwillingness to reciprocate honesty is clear sign something is wrong.
3. When things get rough, are you in it together?
Especially with today’s financial environment, cost-cutting and workforce adjustments are understandable if not expected. When either of you hit rough waters though, how does your job react? Do you talk about how to save the ship or or do you find yourself overboard before you know what hit you?
With the jobs that I have had where the company reciprocates trust and respect, there’s always an immense amount of humility around the responsibility the company has to the people who work for it. If cuts are made, they are with the burden shared across the organization and cuts made in every corner before someone’s livelihood is cut off.
In the end, we have to guard the precious time we spend on behalf of our jobs like the precious emotions we spend on behalf of those people we love. Though certainly not the ultimate barometer of whether or not you should accept a job, perhaps we need to ask these questions more often before we say “I do?”