What is integrity in the workplace and how to best display it?
Integrity in the workplace emanates from steadfast living examples: individuals committed to ideals, with the ability to inspire others.
Why You Should Care
Employing individuals with integrity is an excellent way of boosting engagement and performance.
A strong sense of integrity should be an essential quality when looking at prospective new hires.
But is integrity in the workplace a natural occurrence or can it be learned?
The way we frame conversations around integrity can make it sound like a very internalized thing. The act of an impossibly idealized lone wolf. This is often because we focus on characteristic traits like being honest, reliable, and possessing strong moral principles. All of which are qualities that resonate from within, which need to be honed and perfected.
But legitimate integrity is more than that, and goes beyond self. It’s in fact rooted in respect for others. And it’s this aspect that is a core feature of what integrity in the workplace looks like and why it’s so important.
Integrity in the workplace can take the form of consideration for shared spaces, mutual goals, and deadlines that have far reaching consequences. It’s channeling that unwavering fortitude and dedication to a set of beliefs, into an outcome that benefits those around you, as much as yourself. It’s about lifting others up to the standards you strive for; acting as a pillar and leading by example.
And with this sense of commitment, it’s also possible to nurture and elevate wider organizational integrity, to create a productive environment of accountability, earnestness, and hard work.
What is integrity in the workplace and how to show it?
Integrity in the workplace is about channeling a dependable, honest, and principled work ethic – while sidestepping stubbornness and pride, by having a strong sense of consideration for others. It’s the drive to set high standards, to conduct oneself with decency, and utilize language that is respectful and clear.
A prime example of an individual demonstrating integrity in the workplace, is through their motivation to succeed. Which isn’t solely driven by self-interest or ambition, but embodying a set of core beliefs of how a company should operate.
This attitude is all about collaboration over competition. And it’s more than aspiring to crush others and climb over them for personal gain. It is, in fact, a firm understanding of how much can be accomplished when a workforce is aligned to the same goals and inspiring a joint dedication to achieving them.
It also comes down to a strong sense of recognition. Whether positive or negative, stemming from oneself or someone else in the team, integrity is about recognizing successes and failures in a way which galvanizes the group. Meaning struggles and failures feel like open learning opportunities, and victories feel like they were won together.
The importance of integrity in the workplace
While it’s clearly a positive quality to have, why is integrity important in the workplace? In truth, strong personality traits and qualities can be infectious. So, if you have a particularly rowdy, desensitized individual, this can lead to other colleagues expressing similar frustrations. But by employing many people with integrity, this constructive attitude spreads and propagates.
This presence of integrity then fosters trust. It inspires the rest of the workforce and raises both positivity and productivity. Individuals with a strong sense of integrity often develop strong leadership skills. As such, you cultivate a clear path of ascension, emboldening natural leaders, who can motivate and impress.
Not only that, having an abundance of integrity in the workplace is an investment in better long-term ethical decision making. Because these core principles should be rooted in forward-looking, progressive ideologies that support and actively encourage inclusivity.
Examples of integrity in the workplace
Being punctual and ready
It’s important to be present as often as is needed. But more than that, an example of integrity is to be primed for what is expected. So whether that’s meetings, presentations, deadlines, or reviews, those with integrity will be prepared, consistent and on-time, every time. Both as a statement of commitment from their perspective, as well as a sign of respect for others’ time.
Leading by example
Steadfast belief in the right course of action is a significant factor when it comes to integrity in the workplace. And this confidence in fundamental tenets then acts as a motivator for others. But rather than a byproduct, it should be actively projected as a standard to be looked up to and emulated.
Respectful of policies and people
As previously stated, integrity is so much more than a quality driven by ego. Respect for others, regardless of their situation, circumstance, or background, is an underlying virtue. And as the workforce changes to reflect D,E&I needs, and policies are written to support them, those with integrity act as champions to ensure these adjustments are met and honored.
Expressing appreciation and gratitude
Acknowledgment of the support given by others is a sign of humility. Moreover, it can be the very act which prompts other workers to follow suit and mimic this positive attitude. This creates a domino effect of appreciation. And before you know it, the simple act of expressing gratitude for your team, starts a chain reaction of positivity that lifts spirits and excites.
An individual’s character makes itself known more prominently when things go wrong, than when they go right. In other words, how someone handles adversity, disappointment, and complication is just as important as the image of positivity they may project. And sometimes that comes down to holding your hand up and admitting you got the big calls wrong. This honesty and transparency goes a long way to problem solving, and keeps the focus on rectifying the situation, rather than assigning blame.
Speaking frankly and clearly is paramount when working with others. Whether verbal or digital, it is essential that your words carry weight and meaning. That doesn’t mean everything has to be an inspirational speech, but what you’re saying must come from that central sense of integrity, in order to be trusted and appreciated.
Resolving conflicts amicably
Conflicts arise naturally, to say otherwise is to dangerously dismiss a very real side effect of human interaction. Conflict can be born from a mere difference of opinion, or a more underlying issue. Nevertheless, an individual driven by integrity will understand the wider effects, and have the wherewithal to resolve any dispute amicably. This doesn’t mean a compromise of beliefs, simply putting a calm pause on personal investment, to ascertain the cause for this breakdown.
We all like to think we’re decent people – the hero of our own story. As such, our actions and interactions at work should reflect this. But there’s always room for growth and improvement. And that means maintaining ethical practices at all times, and having the courage to speak out where necessary.
How can an organization show integrity?
We’ve talked about nurturing integrity in the workplace through the acts of individuals. Namely new hires and resilient team members. But in order to create an environment for them to thrive, and eventually ascend to the upper echelons, there needs to be a clear demonstration of organizational integrity.
This level of integrity is top-down and widespread. It is the confirmation of company values reflected in day-to-day behavior. And it is widely seen by customers, clients, stakeholders, and even the competition. In that way, from a managerial perspective, organizational integrity is a cultural necessity. Because it lives and dies on the notion of promises made being promises kept. More than simply faking it, it’s about exemplifying and symbolizing the ideal way to operate in the workplace. And with a powerful presence of legitimate integrity, engagement and performance improve across the board.
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Staff writer, UNLEASH
Matt’s HR roots run deep, as he spent 15 years working for the NHS, in roles across payroll, HR and finance.