Innovation and change are inevitable processes in the business world. Organizations are constantly evolving and changing in response to market trends. If your business is on the verge of restructuring or undergoing some other significant transformation, give due consideration to the role of ethics and responsibility as you move forward.
One of the primary responsibilities of leading change and innovation is the need to keep your employees in mind as you implement changes. As a small business owner who has the economic well-being of your employees in your hands, you have a certain level of responsibility to examine the changes you make from your employees’ perspective. As much as possible, you should want them to come out better on the other side of the change. As you plan for changes, assess the impact the changes will have on your employees.
Change and innovation are disruptive, not only to workers, but to everyone involved with your business. This disruption requires that business owners take into account everyone involved in the process of change. Ask questions about how the change is disruptive, and how to make it less so. The disruption caused by change and innovation will have outcomes that need to be planned for, and the business owner should do everything possible to preserve the rights and interests of others, rather than trampling to accomplish a goal. The Business Institute Roundtable for Corporate Ethics notes that business owners should make efforts to not treat stakeholders as a mere means to an end.
Ethics plays a role in the process of change and innovation in terms of the need for open and honest communication among employers and employees, and between the company and the public. Communication needs to be transparent during the process of change so that continued trust in the organization will continue to exist once the changes have been completed. Companies that are not up front about the changes taking place may lose the trust of their employees, and possibly of the community as well, depending upon the nature of the business and its involvement in the community.
Ethical behavior towards the community and employees will help the business owner to build a stronger organization. The sense of pride that employees take away from participating in the process of change will provide them with a greater sense of belonging and purpose. The responsibility of the business owner and manager is to make innovation and change a process that affects and benefits everyone. Giving all involved a stake in the outcome, and treating them in an ethical manner in the process, will bring greater results in the long run.