16 May The integrity conundrum – integrity is crucial in business but humans are flawed
Have you ever noticed how many companies have Integrity as one of their Core Values? As we know Values in a business are important as they are the guiding principles by which an organisation aspires to behave. And I have to say Integrity in business is crucial. But why?
Let’s start by examining what Integrity is. Integrity is about being true to your word; following through on what you said you’d do. And in so doing, an organisation builds trust, respect and honour amongst all of its stakeholders. Integrity is the foundation stone of long-term business success.
The issue is that Integrity is an aspiration. It’s hard for humans to maintain because we’re flawed. We make mistakes, our intensions are normally good but we don’t always carry them out to their end. Things happen, life gets in the way, we get side tracked by something ‘shiner`, excuses, excuses, excuses….. we break our integrity.
What are the costs? Our word is broken, trust evaporates, the positive energy in a project shrinks. If the pattern continues distrust evolves, projects end in failure, reputations and relationships are ruined.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Even when things go wrong and our integrity is compromised, for whatever reason, it can be repaired and thus, integrity is restored.
How to repair and restore integrity:
- Be open and honest with whoever is involved in the project. Explain what was supposed to happen and what actually happened.
- Explain why it happened this way (again honesty needed, not covering up excuses)
- Apologise for the costs
- State how you will proceed in future
- Check with the third parties for acceptance
Let’s take an example of a project at work. In the first meeting the goals are set, a plan made, actions are set and the date for the next meeting is agreed in a month’s time. The team are energized and excited by this new project and difference it could make.
A month goes by and the second meeting arrives. One of the team isn’t at the meeting and hasn’t sent his apologies. The remain team members review their actions. A couple feedback on how their actions have gone. Another team member explains that she’s only done a bit of what she said she’d do because ‘she was busy’. Another says he hasn’t had time to do anything. Despite these set-backs they look at the plan and set further actions to be completed over the month in readiness for the next meeting. As you’d expect the energy in the room is somewhat subdued. No one is saying anything but there is an air of disharmony and annoyance – the integrity of the project has been compromised.
Meeting 3 arrives. Again, the same member who missed the last meeting is a ‘no show’. 2 people are late. Only one person has carried out what they said they’d do. You can see where this is heading – distrust, relationship breakdown and ultimately project failure. [Extrapolate this out with client meetings, brand expectations/promises etc then you really do have a big organisational problem.]
How different it could have been if at the second meeting. The ‘no show’ had sent his apologies and the reason for his absence with a report on the actions he has taken. Those that hadn’t completed their actions apologised, explaining that it was not good enough and how they propose to make up for their non-delivery. ‘Boom’ the energy is back and the future looks good for this project.
So whether it is part of your core values or not, upholding Integrity is crucial to organizational success (and it’s also good manners that our Grandparents would be proud of).