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.
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. 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.)
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.
**Originally published at Lifehack