Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.
I was speaking with a web developer today on email and he advised me that he had misquoted the project he was working on for me and was struggling to juggle paid work with my “free” work as a result of his error.
Without him asking, demanding or expecting it, I agreed there and then to make good on the difference – even though it was considerably more than the original amount quoted and I don’t have the spare money to hand.
Well, firstly I know that he is a person of sound character and certainly is not out to take advantage of me – he is a hard working and reliable developer who appears to have made a simple mistake by misquoting me.
His error presents a unique position where I can choose to take advantage of him or to work with him to alleviate the consequences and “do the right thing”
Ironically taking the straight shooter approach is a selfish approach which puts my best interests first but also benefits him too- it’s a win win.
Let me explain.
The short term
In the short term I could simply let him continue and concede the misquote was his bad luck, but this would leave him feeling disadvantaged and not very enthusiastic about the next project I will ask him to complete, it would also jeopardise the level of effort he puts into his work and the time it takes to complete the misquoted project.
If I didn’t make good on the difference he may be tempted to overcharge me on future work to claw back his loss- this would put us both in an awkward position were it to come to light.
He may also refuse to work with me again which would leave me at a loss as the quality of his work is so high.
My work would take a back seat to new paying work as he currently perceives the work he completes for me to be “free” and thus of less importance as he simply isn’t being rewarded for it.
By agreeing to make good on the amount, he is inspired to continue to work hard to complete the project as he will see the appropriate amount of reward for the effort he has put in eventually.
The long term
I want to maintain a long term relationship with this developer as he is very talented and has produced some great work thus far.
By assuring him I play fairly and am a straight shooter he will hopefully reciprocate this approach in how he handles my requests and the work he completes for me.
I may even find myself in a position where I have made an error or he could take advantage of me – by being a straight shooter he should be inspired to treat me as I treat him.
Ultimately in life I have learnt that those courses of action which are perceived to be difficult are often the right choice.
I would much rather not find the extra money and put it to better use elsewhere but the fact is paying him what he is worth is quite simply the right thing to do and although there is short term pain, in the long term the “pros” outweigh the “cons” considerably.
If you do the right thing you will be rewarded with a sound conscious, reciprocal fair treatment and a very loyal and happy web developer 🙂