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Last Updated on April 23, 2020

13 Ways to Demonstrate Integrity in the Workplace

13 Ways to Demonstrate Integrity in the Workplace

Integrity isn’t the sort of asset you would claim on your resume, but it is a highly sought-after quality. A potential employer may never ask, “Are you a person with sound moral principles?” But most employers and hiring managers are looking to see that you are.

Rather than a specific skill, integrity is a bundle of traits, including honesty and an ability to adhere to moral and ethical principles. When taken together, these traits show that you are a quality individual that’s worthy of being hired.

A Hot Topic Across Industries: Integrity

Once you are on staff, you become a representative of the company, and your behavior becomes inextricably linked to its performance and its reputation. You must act with integrity in all business relationships — with coworkers, customers, vendors, and members of the community.

Companies are actively working to instill integrity into their business practices. In an effort to convey their emphasis on ethnical and socially responsible ways of doing business, nearly 200 CEOs recently signed a statement of commitment to, among other pledges, foster diversity, inclusion, dignity, and respect for employees.[1]

How to Demonstrate Integrity in the Workplace

Integrity begins with your individual choice to always act in accordance with strong moral principles, no matter the situation. By exhibiting integrity in all your work interactions, you will exude unwavering confidence and purpose[2]. Others will become inspired by your way of interacting and your steadfast accountability.

Here are 13 ways to demonstrate integrity in the workplace. Keep these attributes top-of-mind when conducting business, and you will soon be known as a person of integrity.

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1. Tell the Truth

It’s easy to be transparent when the news is good. You won a new piece of business, wooed a client, or made that all-important sale. When the news is positive, you shout it from the rooftops (or at the next staff meeting, anyway).

But how do you behave when the news is bad? How do you tell your boss the difficult news that the client was unmoved by the presentation? Or that a critical meeting did not go as planned? You tell the truth. Most bosses will forgive a few lackluster presentations if you tell the unvarnished truth. At least your boss knows you can be trusted.

2. Don’t Publicize Negativity

Your boss took a risk on you when he hired you. The last thing he wants to hear is that you are repaying his loyalty by looking for a new job. Or that you’ve been griping about the company on Facebook or other social media.

While you want to be transparent about your wins and losses to your boss and colleagues, you should resist bad-mouthing the company or anyone you work with. Demonstrate integrity in the workplace by keeping your gripes about your boss to yourself.

3. Don’t Abuse Your Position

Continually show your employer that you are worthy of the trust she put in you to do your best work. Demonstrate your integrity by never abusing any of your freedom and autonomy with personal phone calls, Internet searches, or too much socializing with coworkers. In addition, when you always deliver on what you promise, others will trust that you are a woman or man of your word.

4. Offer Respect to Every Colleague

Set a great example by respecting your colleague’s boundaries — both physical and emotional. If you work in a cubicle, don’t yell at your coworkers through the felt walls. Instead, email or text them and ask if you can pop by for a few minutes. Behave as if every person on staff has a door to their cubicle, and knock on it only in an emergency.

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If you notice that a colleague looks stressed or anxious, offer to help ease some of his/her workload. (If they reject your offer, respect that, too.) Furthermore, you show respect by giving others a chance to be heard and honoring their opinions and input.

5. Be Forthcoming With Important Information

Demonstrating integrity means you always stick to the truth when representing your company’s products and services. In any business interaction, you know never to distort the truth or cover up the facts. For example, let your customer know, “Our product doesn’t have the capability to do what you’ve just described, though it can meet these requirements.”

6. Give Credit Where It’s Due

In certain companies, it is hard to get the credit you deserve. However, you will find that the more you credit others with helping you out, the more credit you will accrue in return. Giving credit where it’s due helps foster camaraderie. “I could not have completed this project without Linda’s phenomenal assistance,” you can say. Better, thank Linda in an email and copy all who worked on the project.

7. Try Collaboration Instead of Competition

Some workplaces promote competition between teams for plum assignments, for new business pitches, and for developing software applications. Strive to foster a friendly rivalry rather than a cutthroat one. You will portray yourself as a team player, and others will want to work with you.

Let others know that you’re willing to share the direction you’re exploring and the information you’re uncovering in hopes of arriving at the best solution collaboratively.

8. Value Diversity

A diverse workplace allows colleagues with different backgrounds and viewpoints to find better solutions. If you are in Human Resources (or not), encourage your team to bring diverse minds to solve the challenges before you. As the old adage says, “Two heads (or four, six, eight or twenty) are better than one.”

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9. Be Accountable for Your Actions

Only cowards pass the buck. Those with integrity take responsibility, even when it means having to admit one’s shortcomings. “I think we did not study the competition deeply enough,” you can say to your team. “But I have an approach that will help us all get smarter, faster.”

When you’re accountable each and every time, your team will rally behind you when needed.

10. Meet All Deadlines

Integrity in the workplace starts with honoring deadlines. No one, least of all your boss, wants to hear the many reasons why you couldn’t honor a deadline. All she wants to hear is that the work is ready.

You will prove yourself a person of integrity if you come through when you say you will. (It may help to under-promise on the delivery date by a few days to give yourself the cushion you need to complete the work on time.)

11. Practice Open Communication

When others report to you, they want candid communication about their job performance. If you have to review someone who is underperforming, you owe it to them to let them know what he/she is doing wrong. Then, outline the steps they can take to improve. Work out a timeline for when you will both meet again to see if they have been able to turn things around.

Integrity in the workplace means handling the difficult conversations with grace and professionalism.

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12. Uphold Moral Standards of the Job

If you know someone at the office who is stealing money or accepting bribes, you must report the violation, even if it is uncomfortable to do so. Similarly, if you know of a colleague who is harassing or bullying coworkers, you need to report the behavior. Find out the procedures, and report the person. You may feel ostracized by the person, but everyone else on the team will respect you all the more.

13. Approach Challenges With Courage

Showing courage in each aspect of your professional life demonstrates integrity. It may mean having to go back to a client with new information that proves something you stated was wrong. Or it may mean standing up to a boss who wants to cut corners in a way that makes the workplace unsafe. (This is best done in private, rather than calling the boss’s integrity into question in public, although if you aren’t able to change their mind, you may need to enlist another boss.)

Final Thoughts

Integrity is the common denominator of a rewarding and successful career. By demonstrating integrity in the workplace, you’re able to find balance between respect and responsibility. Not only will your positive attributes lead you to have better relationships with coworkers, but you will find more fulfillment from your work because you know you’re performing in alignment with your best self.

Become a model of integrity in your workplace. You will set the tone for appropriate behavior and overall professionalism across your organization. The rewards will come in the form of mutual respect and rapid advancement.

More Tips on Integrity

Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Vicky Oliver

Author of 6 best-selling books on job-hunting and job interview questions, business etiquette, frugalista style, advertising, and office politics.

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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