Creating a Code of Honor
Creating a Code of Honor

I wrote this “Code of Honor” out of pure frustration one day after letting all of my former associates go. (See last week’s post on “Hiring Associates.”) I really wanted to be clear on how I did business, and I wanted my associates to honor that, thus the name.  I based my business values on my past experience as a manager who at one time hired consultants, as well as how I wanted us to work together in serving clients.  This is now the heart of my business approach and I expect us to adhere to it when working as a consulting team.

1.    Each client must be made to feel like he/she is our only client.

  • This means that references to other clients are minimized and used sparingly to make points; it is not “show and tell.”
  • This also means than we prepare well for each engagement and keep up-to-date information about what we’ve done with each client so that we don’t repeat ourselves.

2.  We follow through on commitments to clients and each other.

  • This means that we honor ourselves and our work by providing adequate lead time when we commit to deadlines, engagements, or follow-up activities; and…
  • If we cannot meet our commitments, we provide adequate notice to the project manager and either negotiate a new deadline/agreement or find an appropriate solution ourselves to meet client needs. The problem is not dumped on the project manager or client’s lap.

3.       A major commitment is the cost of our services.

  •  This means that our bid is our price and our commitment. Once the contract is negotiated, we “throw away” the time sheet and do what is necessary to serve and satisfy the client.
  •  We only go back to the client to negotiate additional payment if the client is asking for more function than was originally contracted. Otherwise, if we’ve underestimated the work, that’s our problem and it becomes an opportunity to learn more about our own work process before the next contract.

4.   We give each other as associates as much priority and respect as we give our clients.

  •  This means that we allocate and schedule time for each other to meet during business hours and we do not cancel on each other due to another “client engagement.” It is important that we develop our relationship and strategy together to serve the customer well.

5.  What we discuss with each other about the client we share with the client.

  •  We do not say one thing to each other and act differently in front of the client. We agree to share our concerns and relate our experiences with the client as a mirror to them. We also accept concerns and feedback from the client as a mirror for us.

6.   We build skills not dependency.

  • This means that we are here to work ourselves out of business with this client. If we are effective, the client should feel confident in her/his ability to deal with future issues rather than call on us.
  •  It is our underlying belief that we will get more referrals and future business through this approach rather than trying to “hang on” to current contracts.
  •  If we do agree to take additional contracts, they are time-bounded and force us and the client to take on new roles that continue to reduce our participation.

This “Code of Honor” is now something that I review early on with potential associates because I want to know if they will be able to adhere to it. Interestingly, some can’t!  I also use it to guide my own behavior when working with clients and it is the basis for how I write proposals.

What is important to you in how you work? Are you clear about that with your own associates or colleagues? If not, try drafting your own code of honor when you are frustrated, and see what you come up with!

Cathy Perme is the co-owner of Perme & Peterson Associates, LLC.

Fizz by Cathy Perme

Buy Fizz! on Amazon

Buy FIZZ on Amazon Audio

Fizz! How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant author Cathy Perme also wrote Confucius in My Cubicle: Practical Wisdom for the Leader in All of Us, released by Wisdom Editions in 2017.

rich set of suggestions
Cathy's marketing and selling background makes for a rich set of suggestions for getting business and building one’s brand. I think it is rare ...
...Read More
Barbara A Tuckner
Cathy's marketing and selling background makes for a rich set of suggestions for getting business and building one’s brand. I think it is rare for an independent consultant to "give away" so much of their business engine and expertise. That adds up to a heap of generosity; something that is remarkable in the "friendly" competitive consulting world.
rich set of suggestions
Barbara A Tuckner
down to earth and practical
Down-to-earth, practical, and provides plenty of tools to use to develop your independent consulting business. Cathy takes a constructive look at how to succeed by ...
...Read More
Meghan Jost
Down-to-earth, practical, and provides plenty of tools to use to develop your independent consulting business. Cathy takes a constructive look at how to succeed by intelligently marketing yourself, engaging others, and keeping it all in balance with your personal life.
down to earth and practical
Meghan Jost
dozens of ideas
Cathy gives dozens of ideas about networking effectively, making sales calls and using social media and she doesn’t minimize the effort that has to ...
...Read More
NES
Cathy gives dozens of ideas about networking effectively, making sales calls and using social media and she doesn’t minimize the effort that has to go into it. It’s a reality check for anyone who thinks they can just hang up their shingle and become a consultant, but a great guide for anyone who’s willing to put in the hard work to be a success.
dozens of ideas
NES
from a to z
Cathy will take you from point A to Z on how to successfully become an independent consultant.
Charles Bever
Cathy will take you from point A to Z on how to successfully become an independent consultant.
from a to z
Charles Bever
methodical steps
For those that take the leap, Cathy's methodical steps will surely be helpful in achieving success.
Kevin Walsh
For those that take the leap, Cathy's methodical steps will surely be helpful in achieving success.
methodical steps
Kevin Walsh
recommend to anyone
I recommend to anyone starting a business.
Patricia Jayne Keefer
I recommend to anyone starting a business.
recommend to anyone
Patricia Jayne Keefer
years of lessons
Cathy shares years of lessons and a broad breadth of practical consulting and business experience in a very clear and engaging guide for starting and ...
...Read More
Ted Clark
Cathy shares years of lessons and a broad breadth of practical consulting and business experience in a very clear and engaging guide for starting and developing a successful consulting company. Highly recommended.
years of lessons
Ted Clark
I appreciate Cathy sharing
I appreciate Cathy sharing what she’s learned over the past 30 years about how to succeed as an independent consultant. Her advice is straight forward, ...
...Read More
Amy Brown
I appreciate Cathy sharing what she’s learned over the past 30 years about how to succeed as an independent consultant. Her advice is straight forward, thoughtful, organized, and easy to follow.
I appreciate Cathy sharing
Amy Brown
Learning Experience Face
This has been a truly learning experience and has helped me grow both personally and professionally.
Anonymous
This has been a truly learning experience and has helped me grow both personally and professionally.
Learning Experience Face
Anonymous
drove to closure horse
Took a very complicated and dynamic set of realities and personalities, surfaced underlying issues, facilitated a robust and healthy interaction, and drove the process to ...
...Read More
Anonymous
Took a very complicated and dynamic set of realities and personalities, surfaced underlying issues, facilitated a robust and healthy interaction, and drove the process to closure and action.
drove to closure horse
Anonymous

Cathy Perme