Creating a culture of ethics requires strong communication within the organization, and a commitment from everyone who works there to live up to high standards. It’s easy to write out a philosophy boasting high ethics and post it on the company website, but living it is a different story.
Sunrise Landscape + Design has been standing by its strong code of ethics to deliver quality and deliver on its promises since Joe Markell founded the company 26 years ago. In 2011, the firm garnered a first place category award from the National Capital Business Ethics Awards.
How does the company stay true to its values, in spite of a tough economy, hiring challenges and budget-tight clients? Here are some tenants that Markell shared.
Set the tone. It starts at the top, and that means Markell must walk the talk. He’s not quiet about what he expects from employees. “If you set the tone from the get-go, employees know what is expected of them and what your philosophy is, and how you are going to operate,” he says. “You have to stay true to your word.””
Drive accountability. Accountability can’t be an individual pursuit–it’s a team effort at Sunrise Landscape + Design. When the team understands each other’s responsibilities, each employee works to ensure that everyone tows the line, Markell says. He facilitates this type of accountability by holding individual and team meetings. “It all comes back to communication,” he emphasizes. For example, if one crewmember needs help reaching a goal–say, finishing a project–the others pitch is so the company can make good on its completion date promise to the customer.
Be consistent. One of the reasons Sunrise Landscape + Design won the ethics award is because of its continued dedication to ethics. It has always been a way of doing business for Markell, since he founded the company 26 years ago. For Markell, consistency can be described as never cutting corners. “It goes back to communication and keeping the quality up on everything we do,” he says. “Quality is what we are selling.”