why your Start-Up needs a Conflict of Interest Policy

In 2015, we introduced the Conflict of Interest Procedure to our robust Compliance programme in TOTAL. It was a necessary procedure the company needed at the time to save us from unnecessary law suits and biased business practices. Today, I will discuss on how Conflict of Interest can help Start-Ups achieve good governance and systems.

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The Conflict of Interest Policy states that any situation in which the interest of an employee or of one of his Close Relation or friend conflicts or could conflict with those of the company, causing a risk of biased decisions being taken, it must be declared and an action must be taken to manage the conflict.

In Africa, Conflict of Interest has been relegated to a Legal Department issue and ignored in the operations of a company. It is mostly only stated during court proceedings, negotiation dealings or contracts however Conflict of Interest issues contribute to over 60% of dangers to businesses today. Lack of Conflict of Interest policies in workplaces has nurtured nepotism, sub standard products/services, fraud, law suits etc. And may I say this is partly why systems suffer in Nigeria today?

 

Let's consider a scenario, 

Your company has opened bid for contractors to handle a project and you are in charge. Your brother bids for this project and on the day of negotiation, you identify your brother in the negotiation process but even after you declare your conflict of interest, no steps were taken to isolate you from the process. Your brother wins because his company is the best fit however the other vendor who lost finds out that he was your brother and sues your company to court.

How do you plead? In this scenario, either your reputation or your company goes down with a huge fine slam.

Now, in the era of entrepreneurship and startups, we find entrepreneurs have ignored the importance of compliance in their business operations. The basic Start-Up kit includes Tech, branding, product/service, business development and marketing. When Legal comes in, its only about equity, company registration or shares. I've seen several startups built to fail from the onset because its structured around non-compliance procedures.

Conflict of Interest Issues affect recruitment of new team members, bringing on board qualified & best practice contractors, in-house fraud, bad company cultures, biased judgement among partners and public officials, law suits, sub standard products & services, over spending etc.

Here's a case study of a distribution and warehousing company

Company XYZ ran a successful business through imposed profit (buy-sell difference) sale and distributing commissions. The CEO's friend drove one of the distribution trucks but could not explain his fuel expenditure playing the age mate friendship card to avoid declaring it. On the other hand, another friend worked pro bono to manage the company in the CEO's absence however 'sometimes slept' with the receptionist in the CEO's house nurturing a late resumption time.

Now let's begin to calculate the loss Company XYZ has lost and the bad company culture that resulted. Finally both were sanctioned and sacked.

Recommendations

So how do you avoid Conflict of Interest in your Start-Up

  • Get every team member including yourself, the CEO, to sign a Conflict of Interest Form at least every year. Also, introduce a policy where each team member declares a conflict of interest once it arises.
  • Isolate team members from negotiations where they have potential conflicts of interests and introduce mitigation measures to vendors/partners who have a potential conflict either within their company or in relations to your company.
  • Have each employee sign a confidentiality form on behalf of the company.
  • Extend a tailored Conflict of Interest Form to your Advisory Board and Directors.
  • Train your team on Anti-Bribery Compliance including Conflict of Interest.

I personally wish that Nigerian Government would install a robust Compliance Policy into our Systems.

When in doubt, always seek advice from your Compliance Officer/Consultant.

HELP! Constructively building SWOT Analysis from Feedback

Today, I listened to the Devil and conducted a Leadership Test on the Johari Window. The Johari Window was invented by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham in the 1950s as a model for mapping personality awareness. After describing myself from a list of adjectives, I requested few of my friends to describe me from the same fixed list of adjectives to help create an overlap and difference in my personality. 

THE RESULTS WERE UNEXPECTED!

I felt great, flustered, worried, annoyed, impressed, amazed, surprised, depressed and every mixed feeling you can think of. Naturally, the human mind goes into defensive uproar when receiving feedback. The results showed over 70% of likable personality traits but my mind focused on the questionable traits... the ones that you doubt is really you. More so, I was dissapointed in my friends for not giving me this feedback initially but grateful they finally did. Here I was in Life, forging ahead with questionable attributes that my friends silently judged me about. Sigh.

So how do you build a SWOT analysis around Feedback so that those perceived questionable traits can be turned into a strategic advantage?

Credits: #WOCinTech Chat wocintechchat.com

Credits: #WOCinTech Chat wocintechchat.com

OWN YOUR EMOTIONS

Feedback is never easy and palatable. The fact that you are even getting feedback makes you a better person so if some of the feedback makes you feel bad, allow yourself to go through it and own it. When I received my feedback, these attributes Complex (16%), proud (4%), self-assertive (20%) and naive (which was not on the list but was personally sent to me by text) shook my very core and gave me a bad stomach ache. I even went as far as calling the parties and asking them to trace me back to an incident that formed their opinion because clearly I did not believe that was me. I allowed myself to understand that I did not like us (me, myself & I) to have such traits but it was okay to have such traits. After all, You are who You are; nothing more, nothing less - Wizard Zul Zeddicus Zorander

WEAR YOUR STRENGTHS

Force your emotions away from your weakness and focus on your strengths. Meditate on it and digest it. Allow yourself to think of incidents where you displayed those likable traits in the community, among your friends and even to yourself. Imagine what the world would become to have people with similar traits - would you live in such a world? The truth is when you build on your strengths, people begin to see you more in the light of your strengths than your weaknesses.

STRATEGIC OPPORTUNITIES

The fact that our likable traits are scaling in flying colors does not absent our weaknesses which could eventually become a threat to who we truly are. The World tends to judge us on the 1% of bad things we have done even though we achieved 99% of goodness! More so, you do not want to be caught unawares in a negotiation or appraisal with a weak trait that catches you off guard! I was watching the series "Madam Secretary" and there was an episode where she was negotiating with the Chinese Foreign Minister and he fired her with her weakness stating something like "I know what you are doing Madam Secretary. You cannot take advantage of me like how you strong arm your foreign ambassadors into having your way!" She was shocked for mini-second and  recovered from it stating "Foreign Minister, I know you want the best for your people which is why you must understand that America is doing all we can to ensure that Democracy prevails which guarantees that China maintains its political advantage in the Asian continent!". Imagine how the conversation would have gone if she went on the defensive and allowed herself to mope at the feedback of such weakness thereby probably losing the deal on the side of America.

MEDITATE ON YOUR THREATS

So as I recognize my not-so-great traits, I recognize that I tend to talk about my achievements and be proud about it however it must not be done arrogantly nor with conceit. Being self-assertive meant that I am unapologetic about sharing my opinions and contributing to educate people whenever I get the chance however I must be careful not to be forceful and be open to new ideas. I also recognize that being complex is good because there are many aspects to who I am as a Compliance professional, Entrepreneur, yogi, Surfer, traveler and podcaster however I must not allow that complex to seep into my work space so that my friends & colleagues can depend on me. I also recognize that being naive (impressionable) is not entirely true because if it were, Yogi, Surfer or Entrepreneur would not be part of who I am however who are we in this world if we do not open ourselves to other people's opinions and ideas? More so, it makes us better candidates for Leadership Positions.

 
We all need people who will give us (honest) feedback. That’s how we improve.
— Bill Gates
 

How do you deal with feedback? Kindly comment below.

Do you want to conduct your own Personality Test, click here

 

Here's my Results. Try not to judge me.

Arena

(known to self and others)

caring, cheerful, complex, confident, independent, intelligent

Blind Spot

(known only to others)

able, adaptable, bold, brave, clever, dependable, energetic, extroverted, friendly, giving, happy, helpful, idealistic, ingenious, knowledgeable, loving, mature, modest, observant, organised, powerful, proud, quiet, reflective, relaxed, responsive, searching, self-assertive, sentimental, spontaneous, tense, trustworthy, warm

Façade

(known only to self)

Unknown

(known to nobody)

accepting, calm, dignified, introverted, kind, logical, nervous, patient, religious, self-conscious, sensible, shy, silly, sympathetic, wise, witty

All Percentages

able (4%) accepting (0%) adaptable (16%) bold (32%) brave (20%) calm (0%) caring (24%) cheerful (16%) clever (4%) complex (16%) confident (36%) dependable (12%) dignified (0%) energetic (36%) extroverted (8%) friendly (32%) giving (16%) happy (4%) helpful (20%) idealistic (8%) independent (48%) ingenious (8%) intelligent (32%) introverted (0%) kind (0%) knowledgeable (20%) logical (0%) loving (8%) mature (12%) modest (8%) nervous (0%) observant (4%) organised (20%) patient (0%) powerful (16%) proud (4%) quiet (4%) reflective (4%) relaxed (4%) religious (0%) responsive (4%) searching (4%) self-assertive (20%) self-conscious (0%) sensible (0%) sentimental (4%) shy (0%) silly (0%) spontaneous (24%) sympathetic (0%) tense (4%) trustworthy (12%) warm (16%) wise (0%) witty (0%)

Created by the Interactive Johari Window on 8.5.2018, using data from 25 respondents.
You can make your own Johari Window, or view Purity Tope's full data.

Dear BossLady! Here's how your business can take advantage of free drinks at the Bar!

If you're like me, then you are a Boss-lady who owns her business and hardly has time to go out but when you do, you go all out - dress, heels, party, drinks et al. Fun fact about Boss Women is that we have maximum fun because we can be playful, sassy, know how to turn off the stress, the party rocker, dancer & stepper and network faster than a bee. Now, let's talk about how to boost your business even when you're off business having fun!

Every Boss Lady takes cash to cover three vital things every time she's out partying - Uber, Drinks and vex money. It's the number 1 rule of business - always make conservative reserves for the worst! So as soon as we get to the party, we buy our own drinks! You will never catch a boss lady without her own drinks of which she drinks minimal and turns the fun to the red meter. She would be drinking either lemon water, red wine, a tough cocktail or a nice beer and that one drink is enough because she does not need alcohol to get high especially due to the stress piling up at work. After that drink, she switches it up on the dance floor or starts networking/conversing like a bee.

And then while she's in her element, a guy walks up to her with that popular phrase;

I've always been at a dilemma on how to tell a guy that I have had all the drinks I can have for the night and would simply appreciate him to get to the last point of what he needs from buying me a drink! LOL. As a business woman, I need my senses every darn time, I don't plan to get a hangover in the morning because I gotta work and I certainly do not need the walk of shame ;) But how do we turn that drink into something productive so that he really feels he's being a gentleman?

I found three stunning ways to take advantage of "Can I buy you a drink" and yet have as much fun with a handsome and charming lad like Ryan Gosling...  I mean if he's as handsome as Ryan Gosling, who wouldn't want to ogle that face for few minutes haha!

Switch that Drink for a Subscription for your Company: 

In this age of Digital media, there's got to be one subscription pending for your business. Either a domain name, canva subscription, Harvard Research Case Studies, a Ripl monthly subscription, Inter Nations subscription, a fitness app course payment, some Skype units, an ad on Facebook for a new project, Yoga at Cody App course payment, invoicing app subscription, Email unit, a VSCO filter, a conference/event fee etc. There's so much he can pay for using his card or transfer and deleting the details off the app so it does not recur. And these does not cost more than a couple dollars - say max $35. Some subscriptions are a mere $10 so take advantage of that lady. That way, if he really fancies a chat, he won't mind and you get to check something off the list!

Switch that Drink up for a Service Swap: 

A guy buying you a drink is just part of his ego making you believe he's working hard for what he eventually wants to get: a date, a relationship, flirtatious banter, some connection, some info, sex, a bet, whatever. So since he is willing to work for it, well how about he actually does the work? Instead of buying you a drink, ask him what he does professionally and also on the side. A photographer could take some portrait photos for your business outlook, a developer could help fix some issues or bugs on your website, a business developer could go through your business strategy, a lawyer could draft up some basic contract and partnership documents for you etc. Also, be willing to give back a service to balance out the equation but don’t over give. You are not charity. Afterall, speaking to you is a Privilege!

Switch that Drink up for something you actually want:

Have you ever been offered a drink and you just wished you had a bag of popcorn instead? Yeah! That's us. A Boss Lady does not go with the flow; she follows her guts! And if your guts says I would prefer a jar of Olives (gosh I love Olives), a bag of popcorn (fave), a pile of pizza, a cuppa coffee or smoothie, a bottle of wine or Ribena, a pack of broccoli or smoked chicken, a carton of water, a pair of alkali batteries, a painting date (costs 5000), a surf class, a salad or some good local food; then ask for that instead. Get your Happiness and Self Care! No need to drink just because he wanted a drink. And be proud of it!

These options cost right about the same price as a drink or less so no harm nor loss. Of course it’s a free World; If he does not feel like it, tell him to take a walk. After all, a Boss Lady always comes with her reinforcements in place.

Remember this and repeat after me: Any transaction outside my inner circle will be handled as business until it has been defined and its value has been ascertained.

And Oh! For the Men, You are also welcome to take the advice for your business in case a lady asks to buy you a drank!

You're welcome!!!