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  • Writer's pictureKathy Miles

The Importance of Integrity in the Workplace

Updated: Nov 19, 2021


According to the Collins Dictionary online, "if you have integrity, you are honest and firm in your moral principles."

Personal integrity is an inborn moral conviction to do what's right and reject that which is wrong, regardless of the consequences that are attached to the decision.

Integrity comes in many forms, but the most important traits expected in the workplace are dependability, honesty, loyalty and good judgement.

As an individual in the workplace, having integrity means:

  • Your actions are consistent with your words

  • You are trustworthy, reliable and honest

  • You communicate honestly and openly

  • You have appropriate values and behaviours that reflect these values

  • You can admit mistakes and not be afraid to show you care.

The Three Forms of Integrity:

According to Dan Coughlin, keynote speaker, management consultant and executive coach, there are three types of integrity:

  1. Internal integrity - This is your integrity at the deepest level. Is your integrity just for show because it looks good, or do you truly live your life with integrity in mind? Internal integrity is about being able to do the right thing, even if no one is looking and even if you will receive absolutely no credit for doing so. Doing the right thing, even though it may be the harder option, despite no one looking is a huge step towards ensuring that you live with integrity.

  2. External integrity - This is what you portray to those around you. You have high external integrity when your actions are consistent with your thoughts and what you are saying. If you are saying one thing, but your actions say something else - you have some more work to do!

  3. Image integrity - Similar to external integrity - this is the image of your integrity. Whilst you might outwardly be displaying the right actions and taking the right path, can these actions be thought of in any other way? Are you leaving your image open to interpretation? People have great imaginations. When we don't understand something, we are very quick to make assumptions and form beliefs about why something is occurring. Looking after your image integrity is about ensuring that none of your actions or words can be misconstrued.

Why is Integrity Important?

Primarily, integrity in the workplace is so important as these traits foster a positive workplace culture. One where there is open communication, good decision making and a strong moral compass guiding all decisions and actions. Whereas, irresponsible behaviour and distrust can make a work environment uncomfortable and tense.

If you are known for your integrity, you will gain trust and respect from the people around you.

Integrity is not just important on a personal level, it is also vitally important at a workplace level. Organisations known for their integrity perform better.

What customer wants to deal with an organisation that doesn't keep their word, that says one thing but does something else or that offers bad products or services? They wouldn't. Instead they would want to deal with the organisation who can be trusted to follow through with what they have agreed upon, one that has trustworthy employees and a good brand message.

Tips for Demonstrating Integrity in the Workplace:

  • Build Trusting and Respectful Relationships - Trust and respect are the ingredients of a healthy, positive workplace culture. Polite communication, respecting your colleague's thoughts and ideas and continuously working on relationships demonstrates that you are a team player. Working as a team builds up trust and also shows that people can rely on you.

  • Communicate Openly and Honestly - Open and honest communication is the way to ensure that people know exactly what is going on around them, where everybody stands and the best way forward.

  • Follow Company Policies - Policies are designed to guide you as to the best practice. If you choose not to follow them or if you use shortcuts, it will lead to bad decisions, problems and mistakes that will need fixing.

  • Demonstrate Responsible Behaviour - Ensure that there is no reason for your colleagues to ever question your conduct by demonstrating ethical and moral behaviour at all times. This includes avoiding using the company’s equipment or resources for personal use, striving to complete your task before deadlines and showing enthusiasm and commitment to your work.

  • Work Diligently - This is a very powerful way of demonstrating integrity as it shows that you are responsible for your work time. Making personal calls, surfing the internet, texting or snacking at the work desk, are some of the activities that distract one from working efficiently. Focusing on your job responsibilities while at your desk will show your colleagues, manager, and even customers, that you have strong work ethics.

  • Admit to and Learn from Your Mistakes - It is common to make mistakes as you work, but you should admit the mistake without putting the blame on someone else. This shows that you are responsible enough to own up to your mistakes, are willing to correct them and learn from them. If you are a manager, this means taking the blame yourself, and not letting your team members take the responsibility.

  • Lead by Example - This sets a firm foundation for what you value most and how you want to work. By seeing you working by the same standards and expectations, it encourages others to follow suit.

  • Stand Up for Your Beliefs - This is about standing up for what you believe is the right way of doing things, even if everyone else is doing something different.

  • Have Your Own Identity - Come to understand who you are, what you are capable of becoming, what you want out of life and where you want to go. Ensure that these are not merely reflections of what others expect or want. Once you know this, align your values to this path and steer straight in all that you do.

At times, you may reach a point where you are asked to do something that doesn’t go in accordance with your personal code of conduct. This may present a challenging decision for you, but if you have strong integrity and values, you will refuse to do it. Having the courage to say no is an important skill to learn.

Your integrity is your most trusted friend as it keeps you on the right path. Make it your goal to be a person of integrity always, no matter how many temptations or challenges you face.

About PDI Solutions

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