Wednesday, January 17, 2007

January 17, 2007 – Integrity: At least try to fake it

Integrity is one of those old-fashioned words. It gets thrown in with words like horseless carriage, nifty and swell, house calls and milkman. It has been replaced by ideas like politics, expedience and sales calls. One sales guy I worked with summed up integrity in the work place by saying, “Pick us ‘cause we aren’t as slimy as the competition.”

Maintaining your integrity is a full time job. I even find myself slacking off once in a while. Here are a few reminders to help get us back on track.

Be on time. It seems that the cable guy syndrome has spread to other industries. They show up for meetings whenever they get around to it. One of the more annoying cases of this is dialing in to conference calls. The service we have prompts you for your name and then announces that you have arrived. If you are late the meeting is rudely interrupted mid-sentence with “Joe Smith…is now attending.” Part of the problem is that we stack meetings on top of each other. To alleviate this, one project manager I know schedules his meeting to start at 15 minutes after the hour. Unfortunately people still come in late.

Do what you said you would. Be a person of your word. If you say you will take care of something, do it. When you commit to a deadline, meet it. If you anticipate a problem accomplishing something, contact the individual and request an extension. Other people make commitments based on your promises. When you don’t follow meet your obligations it impacts more than your integrity.

Put in an honest day’s work. Some people leave early to make up for coming in late. When they are at work they may be playing solitaire, talking on the phone or go strangely absent for hours on end. Don’t just fill time. Be productive.
Seek work. I have been on engagements where there isn’t enough work to keep me busy. It drives me crazy because I always feel like there is something I am forgetting to do. If you don’t have enough to keep you busy make sure your aren’t dropping a responsibility and then ask for something more to do.

Report accurately. Your communications should be accurate and honest. This is true of your timesheet, status report, financial records and schedule. I’m not suggesting doom and gloom reporting. You can put the information in a positive light, but make sure everyone is kept informed and no one receives any unpleasant surprises.
A friend of mine recently fired an employee for failing to meet these simple standards. If you don’t think you have the moral fiber for it, try faking it for a while. Be cautious, though. Integrity may develop into a habit if you aren’t careful.

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