Your Integrity Is Your Best Asset

Liam* had worked hard to move up in the world, sacrificing time with family and friends to further his career, and it finally paid off. When he landed the job at LMN, Liam knew he’d have to prove himself but was confident he could master his new responsibilities, even when he realized what a challenging atmosphere he’d landed himself in. Not only did he need to keep up with LMN’s breakneck pace, but Liam also felt Matt’s watchful gaze looking for who was at fault for the many daily things that could–and did–go wrong. He certainly didn’t want it to be himself.

But everyone makes mistakes, and one day, Liam failed to perform a very important, time-sensitive task. When it became apparent that the task had not been done, Matt confronted him. Instead of admitting his mistake, Liam lied, insisting that he had completed the task. Of course, when Matt asked him to document his claim, Liam had to confess that he had not completed the assignment. In one fell swoop, the bridge of credibility that Liam had built was broken, causing all his work product to be called into question and undoing years of sacrifice and hard work.

Have you ever considered that your integrity is your best asset?  If you break trust with your boss or co-workers, it can be very difficult to restore, according to Drs. Dennis and Michelle Reina, authors of Rebuilding Trust in the Workplace: Seven Steps to Renew Confidence, Commitment, and Energy. Lying about a mistake is only one of several behaviors that can breed mistrust at work, such as gossiping, hoarding information, taking credit for someone else’s work, and throwing a co-worker under the bus.

The good news is, there is a way to repair that broken bridge of trust. A lack of integrity is actually an issue of self-control and may be easier to fix than a lack of competence, says David DeSteno of Harvard Business Review. As the author of The Truth About Trust, DeSteno defines integrity as “the willingness to act fairly and honor commitments,” an attitude that involves accepting short-term costs to yourself for the benefit of others.

With that definition in mind, there are two things you can do when you’ve lost your boss’s trust. First, “repeatedly demonstrate an ability to delay selfish gratification for small temptations. For example, work through lunch or take on onerous or tedious tasks that need to get done but no one else wants to do. The second is quicker: show a willingness to sacrifice to benefit others when the stakes are high.” In other words, you have to show your boss that you are willing to do what others might not in order to achieve his and the company’s goals.

If you’ve also behaved incompetently, encourages DeSteno, this, too, can be remedied, but be prepared for it to take more time. You’ll need to show humility rather than project confidence, and demonstrate that you are working to improve your skills by doing things like getting extra training, taking another class, and reading books. When asked for your opinion, if you don’t know the answer, ask for some time to find the right answer rather than winging it!

Liam will have to live with his choice and its consequences, but it’s not too late for you to learn from his mistake. If you’re faced with the pressure to lie to protect yourself, remember, your integrity is your best asset. It’s much simpler to correct a mistake than to repair shattered trust, so be humble and own responsibility for your mistake right away. While telling a lie may seem like a good short-term solution, it will surely cause you more problems in the long run, damaging the bridge of credibility you’ve worked so hard to build.

*no real names are used to protect anonymity

Are you communicating integrity or dishonesty with your body language? Read this.

Candidates, do we have the most current version of your resume? If not, click here to post it, and visit our job board for professional and technical jobs while you’re at it! You or a friend might be a good fit for one of our open positions. Also, join our Talent Network to receive updates and alerts with new job opportunities that match your interests.

Amtec Bitz Newsletters

Essential industry highlights & expert insights every month.

Related Posts

View all posts