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What is Integrity in the Workplace and Why is it Important?

Knowing what must be done does away with fear.” Rosa Parks

Sam, who is working on a MySQL database project at a prestigious firm, keeps receiving an error code that puts him in dire straits. As the deadline creeps up closer and closer, his manager pressurizes him to deliver the project. Sam contemplated his options and decided to come above board with his supervisor and explained the issues he is facing. The supervisor applauded Sam’s honesty and worked as a team to successfully complete the project within the deadline. 

Sam did not shy away from failure. Instead, he put the interest of the company and client at the top of his priority list. His integrity towards the job and workplace ensured he had nothing to fear.

If you join or are already a part of an esteemed organization, like Apple, Google or Samsung, you might find yourself in a can of worms like Sam. The question is, what will you do then? 

“We need more people like you at our organization” is something every conscientious employee would love to hear. But the journey to this zenith of respect takes a supreme blend of enviable traits revolving integrity.

Any organization is looking for employees who are aiming to be impetuses for business growth. So, are you bringing the right cards on the table to claim the spot? 

Here’s what you’ll learn today about workplace integrity and take a step closer to land that promotion you are on the hunt for. Here's what we'll be covering:

- What is integrity? What makes it a desirable attribute?

- Integrity in climbing the career ladder

- Integrity – An essential ingredient for success

- Why is integrity a dominant requisite in a workplace?

- How integrity can help you in interviews

- Demonstrating integrity in the workplace

- What does integrity mean in the workplace?

- How to show integrity in the workplace

- Examples of ethics and integrity in the workplace

- Pro tips to maintain integrity in the workplace

- What are good work ethics?

- Workplace ethics vs. Workplace integrity

- How work ethics helps to maintain workplace integrity?

What is integrity? What makes it a desirable attribute?

Do you want to create an impression not just with your work but your presence itself in the organization? 

The answer to this million-dollar question is one singular word – integrity.

Integrity in the workplace is an unmentioned quality which the employers seek in their employees. It is a culmination of honesty and strong ethical values which make you strive for nothing short of the textbook best. If you put yourself in the employers’ shoes, you’d understand that the importance of having people with strong morals and rectitude is paramount. 

A mutually respectful work environment is the foundation of a successful business organization. No businessperson would want an employee who is slacking off at work and distracting others simultaneously. These are also reasons why being confident and respecting workplace integrity are some of the crucial interview tips

Let the interviewer know that you are not here to be just a barrel of laughs but an ocean of talent and possibilities for the company.

Integrity in climbing the career ladder

Remember Sam? He could have easily ‘taken it easy’ and push suboptimal codes to complete the project. The reason why he did not do so is exactly why people like Sam are a catch to corporate kings like Google, Amazon and the likes. The truth is, purely in terms of ability and talent, the potential is limitless in the broader spectrum. 

So, what exactly will help you take the crown down the line? 

Yes, you guessed it right: honesty and integrity.

Yes, of course, hard work and talent play a huge part. Still, it is extremely crucial to be able to take responsibility and the wisdom to claim accountability. These are the yearning qualities which would help you in your career endeavors.  

Integrity – An essential ingredient for success

“It is true integrity alone would not make you a good leader, but without integrity, you never will be.” – Zig Ziglar

Here’s an example to help you understand.

John, who became a sensation with his revolutionary Deep Learning software, recently made it to the list of the ‘Top 30 billionaires below 30’. When asked about what was the secret to his success, he affirmed he remained undaunted by the challenges and refused to cave in and stayed put on his principles. According to him, it is not just about making it in life, but also about making it with honor, principle and integrity.

Integrity is also a key quality that makes you an able leader. You are wondering why and rightly so. Doesn’t the “experience section” in your CV matter the most? 

Yes and no.

A flashy and weighted CV can give you the much-needed traction to become a valued member of the company. However, you also need to bring on the table eloquence in work culture to assert a positive impact on the business with the ingenuity of your contribution. 

Accountability is an indispensable trait, which comes along with integrity. Do you see the pattern now?

Integrity is the magic bean for success. Without it, your career graph keeps dipping, and nobody wants that.

Why is integrity a dominant requisite in a workplace?

In the absence of honesty and integrity, an air of distrust prevails between the employee and employers because neither can trust each other and when the storm comes, all hell breaks loose. On the contrary, if you are able to be one of those that managers look out for whenever in trouble, you will instantaneously know your worth. Feels good, doesn’t it?

Integrity in the workplace is a conscious effort to maintain a professionally healthy and positive state of mind, in line with the company culture, and is non-negotiable at any cost. 

Example:

Julian and James are friends working on different projects at the same software developing company. Julian notices that James is not following the directives of the client and is about to deliver a substandard project. He warns James about it, but the latter pays no heed. Julian decides to inform the manager about it so that the mistake gets rectified. The manager politely thanked Julian for his honesty.

Does this create a rift between Julian and James? Probably. Was it worth it? Yes. A thousand times, yes.

What would you have done? Tell on James or just keep mum? 

Whatever you decide establishes your professional character. And, character matters. 

How can integrity help you in interviews?

It is a common misconception that an interview is about the interviewee. It is not. Rather, it is an ideal set up to understand if the employer and the prospective employee can build a healthy work environment down the line. It is a great piece of career advice that you shouldn’t ignore. Interviews are an attempt for you to showcase the talents you have acquired. Your skills are your best bet for glory. 

So, make sure you let the interviewer know that hiring you will be a stroke of genius on the company’s part.

If you are looking for interview tips, the most important of them all is being truthful and honest during the interview. Lying through your teeth may help your flashy resume but it can land you in hot soup if you are exposed. 

Honor once lost can never be gained. This is an unwritten law of human nature and something you surely would want to avoid. 

It is in your best interest to be honest in your interviews as it sends out a message of integrity. The prospective employer also gets to know what he/she is dealing with and what are the value additions you bring to the table. Companies like Facebook, Amazon, etc. are not only on the hunt for committed and talented software engineers but also individuals who are worthy of respect in the workplace. 

Demonstrating integrity in the workplace

Integrity in the workplace is a commodity which cannot be bought but developed. It is not possible to imbibe integrity values overnight, but if you make a conscious effort to inculcate certain traits, you are on the right path to success! The traits are: 

  • Gracious

Do not behave rudely with your peers and be ready to assist whenever you are called upon. Make sure to be courteous when anybody is helping you out; kindness goes a long way. Do not forget to follow-up after you are done!

Give credit where it is due. Remember, graciousness does much more than sealing your position as a respectable individual. It encourages others to be one too. 

And this exactly the positive influence your employer expects from you in the workplace.

  • Respectful

People are not fond of condescending people, and you are not helping anybody by being disrespectful. 

Respect is earned and the first step to acquire that is treating others exactly the way you want to be treated by them.

  • Honesty

Admitting your mistakes and claiming accountability for them emanate strong principles of honesty, a quality which does not cost a dime, but rare to find. Integrity cannot be achieved without an honest mindset.

  • Trustworthy

Make sure to be true to your words. If you promise your colleague that you’ll help him find the issue in the error logs, do that.

People with integrity never make false promises, let alone breaking them. Do not spread rumors or agenda at workplace for any purpose. Nobody likes a tattle-tale.

  • Hardworking

This is an absolute must to rise in the ranks and being an integral member of the company. There’s no guide to hard work. It comes with intention and will.

  • Responsible

To demonstrate solid professional integrity in the workplace, being responsible towards your duties is the chief ingredient. Whether or not you can deliver your project on time or simply informing someone about the issues you are facing - everything shows your ethics and integrity in the workplace

  • Helpful

Do not be the one who laughs at others’ shortcomings. Help him/her out if it is up your alley or provide a contact for assistance. Any help goes a long way, and remember – what goes around, comes back around.

  • Patient

Patience is a virtue only a handful few possesses. If you do believe that being a patient listener is your forte, you are already bringing a trump card for integrity on the table.

TRIVIA

5 Tips to channelize your inner leader

  1. Honor your team members
  2. Assume a delegator approach 
  3. Communicate frequently
  4. Be an influencer
  5. Turn your team members into prospective leaders

What does integrity mean in the workplace?

‘Integrity, the choice between what is convenient and what is right.’- Tony Dungy

Sam is respected by his peers and seniors alike. Why? He possesses all the qualities of integrity that his management expects from him and does not get bogged down by consequences. 

So, how do you translate integrity from a textbook definition into actions? How do you set examples of integrity in the workplace?

Be dependable and committed: It is a veiled part of your job description to be dependable and committed to keep your words. It is, therefore, wise to not make random commitments which are not possible for you to keep.

Honest and communicative: It is a virtue to possess easily decodable communication skills. It prevents any unwanted office gossip. Be open to hold dialogue with others, without bias. Spreading rumors and being dishonest are attributes, undesirable and uncalled for. 

Be accountable: To err is human. It is only natural to make mistakes now and then. It is a part of your learning curve, as well as your success story. It is crucial to accept your faults and not repeat the mistakes. 

How to show integrity in the workplace?

  • Respect company policies.
  • Be ever-ready for work.
  • Be a positive catalyst.
  • Respect your colleagues, even in conflicts. 
  • Do not mudsling on your peers behind their backs.
  • The ability to accept responsibility and accountability are signs of integrity in the work place.
  • Do not compromise your work ethics at any circumstance. 

Examples of ethics and integrity in the workplace

Making hard decisions and responsibility

There comes a time when you have to choose between turning the page or just closing the book.” – Josh Jameson

Example: It has been a long week for Gertrude, and all her team members are going out for a Friday night dinner. But Gertrude’s manager assigned her some urgent work to finish another team’s machine learning project. So, she politely declined her colleagues and decided to make the tweaks to help the other team. She delivered the project on time and was appreciated by her manager on Monday.

Sometimes, it is almost a sheer necessity to take the difficult road to climb the success ladder. A dependable team member is every manager’s first choice.

Confronting gossip

Who gossips to you, will gossip of you.” – Unknown Turkish proverb

Example: Janet and her friends are hanging out by the water cooler and having one of those chats. Janet’s friend starts talking ill of her manager and discussed how her manager was undermining her contributions. Janet immediately points out to her friend that she should go talk to human resources and discuss the issue.

It is rude and offensive to ill-mouth your manager or peer for any reason. Janet does the right thing and shows her friend the virtuous path to resolve her issues, rather than gossiping by the water cooler!

Addressing issues of honesty

Tell a lie once and all your truths become questionable.” -  

Example: Jonah was walking by when he suddenly notices a paper lying on his colleague’s desk. He is surprised to see on it the solution to an error code that has been bothering him for some time. Jonah didn’t think twice before returning the page to his colleague and also asked his permission to use the solution.

Professional integrity at your workplace is of utmost importance and an invaluable trait. 

Giving credit

A good leader takes a little more than his share of blame, a little less than his share of credit.” – Arnold H. Glasow

Example: Rina was suddenly called to the manager’s office. Flustered and worried, Rina enters her supervisor’s cabin. To her surprise, her boss congratulated her for the efforts on the machine learning project. Rina was taken aback but admitted that it was her team member who contributed primarily to the development process. 

The manager thanked Rina for her honesty and appreciated her leadership qualities. 

Giving credit where it is due is an indispensable leadership trait. Nobody likes a leader who hogs up all the credit of his/her team and lets the main contributors veiled behind the curtains. Pushing the right people towards the spotlight is the apt choice for a person with integrity values and ethics.

Pro tips to maintain integrity in the workplace

Sarah’s project leader suddenly had to go away for an urgent family business, and she was handed the responsibility for the final delivery. Sarah grabbed the opportunity and made an excellent case of her leadership skills.

How did Sarah accomplish and showcase such strong values of ethics and integrity in the workplace?

Be a leader and a facilitator

Do not be afraid to up your game and lead the way in times of distress. It conveys a message of dependability and trust. At the same time, your swift ability to answer a distress call goes a long way in building an enviable career.

Be open to communications

Exercising open communication is almost a must to maintain integrity at workplace. Without clear communication, half the message will be lost. Haphazard coordination will be the call of the day and can cause a pandemonium. 

You do not want that, do you?

Be accountable

If you have made an error, do not back down from admitting it. It does not make you the least bit incompetent, but rather, sends an indication that you are aware of your shortcomings and you are willing to learn.

Take a stand against unethical workplace behavior

One of your duties as a person with integrity is to promote and practice “no-tolerance” for unethical work behavior and attitude. If you notice any inappropriate dealings within office space, make sure the authorities are aware of them. 

Civility doesn’t cost a dime

Be civil and maintain a professional and respectful attitude towards your peers and supervisors. Be empathetic and compassionate. 

Exercise emotional control

Always keep it in your mind that you are in an office space. It is not your home. Have a grip on your emotions. Losing patience and throwing a tantrum are big turn-offs when you are striving for greatness. 

What is good work ethics?

Work ethics is an important aspect of work integrity. It is a set of moral principles which dictate your workplace behavior. The ways you behave, perform, communicate and fulfill your job duty are some things which reflect your moral standards. Make sure to keep them flying high! 

Workplace ethics vs. Workplace integrity

Strong work ethics takes care of the larger picture in a work environment scenario, where it becomes a mutual responsibility. Ethics are a set of rules which the organization lists for you to maintain at workplace.

Workplace integrity, on the other hand, is individual-centric behavioral qualities which one develops over time. Integrity is about the ability of the person in question to remain honest and truthful, even in dire situations.

How work ethics helps to maintain workplace integrity?

When you get a common ground for behavior and maintaining workplace integrity, it is the ethics which drive you. On the other hand, without integrity, the purpose of ethics is entirely nullified. 

When employers seek new employees, they are not just only searching for a person to fill in, but someone who can potentially add value to the company and its employees. 

Emanating integrity and sticking by it through thick and thin is a priceless quality which all the big shots are in the lookout for. Bringing your best game is your duty to not only the employer but to yourself – such should be your workplace integrity