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Management And Training

The Fine Line Between Gratuity And Bribery

September 19, 2010
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Editor''s note:

Oftentimes, we feel obligated to show our appreciation for a good deed or a job well done.

Sometimes, however, the only thank you needed is for us to make good on our word and do the best job we possibly can.

A recent post on the cmmonline.com Bulletin Board focused on walking the fine line between gratuity and bribery.

The conversation in its entirety unfolds below.

Posted By:
Milton Doss
4/6/2009

The manager of a company went to bat for me to renew my contract, and with his help, my contract was renewed.

Would it be appropriate to give him a gift or something to show my appreciation?

Any idea what? I''m sure it depends on the individual.

I don''t want it to seem like a bribe. Any suggestions would be appreciated.


Responses:
Tim Herr
4/6/2009

I think most companies — and the IRS — have set limits on what kind of thank you gifts you can give.


Matthew Stowe
4/6/2009

In the state of California, if you are [a] licensed contractor, any gift over $5 is illegal.

Fortunately, most BSCs are not regulated by the state, so you should be good.


Ed Samson
4/6/2009

It will look the same as it does when our politicians take things for granting favors at the taxpayers'' expense.

Just take him to lunch a couple of times to talk business and express thanks.


Peter Weiss
4/6/2009

Buy him a gift certificate to an expensive restaurant in the area.

Make it enough for two people to have a great dinner.


Robert Jess
4/6/2009

I would do the same, a gift certificate to cover two for dinner at a nice steakhouse.

That way, they can take their spouse with them.

The manager will be happy and will be there ever year to bat for you.


Chris Wheeler
4/8/2009

Many companies, nowadays, have strict policies about gifts, but I don''t think you could go wrong in having a "business" lunch or two.

My advice would be to not put your new business friend on the spot, unless you''re certain of his company''s ethics (HR) policy.


Jan Wade
4/8/2009

Letting the manager know you appreciate what he did is important. Here are the steps:

  1. Tell him how you feel
  2. Provide excellent service in the future (prove him right).

There are those in the industry who can be "bought."

I am not implying that he is one, but if he is, you will eventually lose to a higher bidder.

Giving a gift in response to a good deed is not appropriate.

Putting a heart next to accounts that treat you with respect and thus remaining aware of the need to never let them down is the way to go.


Shane Deubell
4/8/2009

I wouldn''t give a customer any gift ever for any reason.

I would focus on making that person look good and deliver great service.


Melissa Jent
4/8/2009

I agree. I wouldn''t give a gift to a single individual because they went to bat for you.

What happens when the person that actually decided to keep you on finds out you gave gift certificates to that person and not to them?

I''m not sure what your money situation is or the size of the office, but when my accounts renew my contracts I send in pizza for the whole office.

I ask my contact if it is OK and that way nobody is left out, and I make sure it is done right after the contract has been renewed.

I am there to make sure of the delivery and let them know this is to show my appreciation in the faith and trust that they have bestowed to my company and myself.

You have to show your appreciation to everyone, not just one person; the whole office plays a part in your success.


Bob The Cleaner
4/9/2009

I give client-oriented gifts for holidays and such.

If I''m showing appreciation for a contact who led me to a new gig, well, nothing says thank you better than a fat envelope.


Melissa Jent
4/9/2009

Can you do that Bob? I used to give out what we called "birddog fees" for anybody that gave me a lead and I landed the account.

But I don''t know if that is legit.


Bob The Cleaner
4/9/2009

No law against it (at least in the private sector … yet) and is well within ethical guidelines if it''s not a quid-pro-quo.

As long as there''s no expectation of performance for acceptance, there''s no better thank you than a juicy envelope.

It can, however, create the illusion of impropriety, and such matters should be handled with utmost discretion.


Shane Deubell
4/9/2009

You mean payoffs; yeah you want to be discreet. And we wonder why our politicians are corrupt and incompetent … because we are. I hate that nonsense.


Milton Doss
4/13/2009

I''ll agree Shane. If you have to do something discreet, something seems unethical about it.

That which is done in the dark will soon come to the light. Sound familiar?


Sandy Conrad
4/14/2009

A nice handwritten thank you note is what I''d do.


Shane Deubell
4/14/2009

I like that Sandy. That is what we do after every job, regardless of the size.


Editor''s note:

As mentioned in this month''s Cleanthoughts, a few months back we asked our online readers what they thought about EPA''s efforts toward validating environmentally preferable claims on sanitizers and disinfectants.

Below are portions of that discussion.

Posted By:
Richard DiPaolo
10/8/2008

ISSA just sent out a press release noting that the EPA is moving forward with developing a proposal which would allow companies to market green claims on sanitizers, disinfectants and possibly other EPA registered pesticides. I know several end users have been waiting for this day. Are you happy, sad or indifferent?


Responses:
Lynn Krafft
10/8/2008

I''m just filled with wonderment! A truly "green" disinfectant or pesticide is an impossibility. "Green" means it is environmentally safe and harmless to living things. Anything that kills something is not meant to be harmless, so what will "green" disinfection really mean, annoying the microorganisms?

Actually, we already have something that resulted from ineffectual usage of a product that was supposed to kill and did not. We call it MRSA. Why would anyone sit breathlessly awaiting this silly marketing ploy?


Ken Galo
10/8/2008

All the companies [are] waiting with the new "green" labels to put on their products to sell to all of us once it becomes mandated to use it. I figure 2010. Put me down as moderately annoyed and powerless to stop it.


Melissa Jent
10/8/2008

They are going to the extreme to make all the cleaning chemicals green. I wonder when they are going to make the really harmful stuff green, say like aerosol hairspray? I agree with the annoyed verdict. And a lot of the companies that I have bid have said, "I don''t care what kind of cleaning products you use, as long as it works. You are buying it."


Robert Jess
10/9/2008

Same here, customers could care less.

I was reading an article forgot were I seen it, but they tested 1,000 so-called labeled green products to see if they really were what they have claimed to be. Out of 1,000, only 1 passed, so that should tell you something.


John Porreca
10/10/2008

It''s a myth; the products need to clean. They also need to kill in addition to clean. I believe that most janitors look for both the cleaning and the kill factor when applying disinfectants.


Joel R. Daniel
10/18/2008

The only thing "green" about "green" is the money that changes hands behind the scenes. It''s one of the biggest scams to come down the road in years. Add to that government mandates and you''ve got a recipe for more disaster than you can even imagine.

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