The Employers' Association

The Employers’ Association (TEA) is a not-for-profit employers’ association, formed in 1939, with offices in Grand Rapids serving the West Michigan employer community. We help more than 600 member companies maximize employee productivity and minimize employer liability through human resources and management advice, training, survey data, and consulting services.

TEA is in the business of helping people. This blog is intended to address human issues, concerns and the things that impact people - be they self-perpetuated or externally imposed. Feel free to respond to the thoughts presented here, for without each other, we are nothing!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

THE CONVERGING PATHS OF CREDIBILITY AND INTEGRITY



Choosing right over wrong, ethics over convenience, and truth over popularity are seemingly difficult benchmarks to achieve in life.  Business leaders must continually use consistency, fairness and equity as the litmus test for decisions they make in regards to product offerings, finances and employee-related issues.  Employees (or those seeking work) must identify and present truth over fiction, reality over desires and an honest appraisal of what they can do over what they feel they could be capable of doing when seeking advancement or fulfillment.  Individuals within successful relationships must remain open and honest with communications, fair and reasonable in expectations and willing to both express “wished for” outcomes and accept compromise to achieve mutually beneficial results.  Far too many of the ethical shortcomings in today’s world have their roots in a lack of transparency – people or business seeing what they can get away with rather than doing what they know is right or speaking in one manner while acting in another – as they seek the fulfillment of self-serving values.

Supervisors (or individuals within their personal relationships) often find themselves in trouble when they communicate a partial truth, remain silent on an important aspect or condition, or fail to tell the “why” when issuing instruction or correction.  Communicating partial truths to different people – even if what is being said is not a lie but rather just part of the story – can compound itself by allowing stories to become mixed during ongoing communication or to fully materialize when people talk to each other about what you have said.  If an individual is being criticized or verbally attacked and you are in a position to intercede with “the rest of the story” that might make the berating stop but you choose to say nothing, silence can broadcast a lack of integrity more loudly than words could ever manage.  Directing rather than explaining – particularly if there appears to be inconsistency or a lack of consideration for others in the orders – can reduce credibility and integrity within a leader, partner or friend.  Honesty and integrity must be the benchmark of all communication – fairness and equity the litmus – for an individual to earn and maintain respect in their personal OR professional life.

Our environment and those we are with change frequently but our value system – our ethics – cannot drift upon the winds if we are to remain an anchor to those around us.  In order to be a contributing part of the solution rather than a significant part of the problem, our values must serve as a rock-solid set of principles to establish and guide proper conduct. This set of principles should ALWAYS influence our decisions and choices, outwardly determining our actions, if we are to express integrity and establish credibility.  Unless our exhibited actions are natural expressions gained through training, experience, and an application of closely held principles, those depending upon us for guidance will lose confidence in our choices and become fearful of our leadership decisions.  When faced with difficult decisions, we all must make choices that are well thought-out and that lead to a planned “end point.”  When given a choice, far too many individuals take the path of least resistance rather than taking “the high road” wherever it may lead.  “Integrity” is not an object we can seek nor a destination we can find, it is the glue that holds successful human interaction together – a path to follow as we seek to find meaning and fulfillment in our everyday actions.  Integrity is the “high road” upon which we should travel as we build meaningful, trust-filled relationships.

In order to avoid being more “stubborn” than “purposeful” we should be prepared to change our mind (and potentially our choice or direction) should the situation around us OR the facts upon which our initial decision was based be significantly altered.  The only thing that is certain in life is change – not the direction of change nor the likelihood of controlling change, only the knowledge that change will happen – so we must be prepared to manage it.  Leaders often find themselves in a position to make or break relationships, ensure the success of a venture or institution, or cause the realization or the destruction of dreams with every decision they make.  Good leaders typically thrive on “making a difference,” quietly accepting praise for a job done well (often spreading it graciously over the efforts of a team) while assuming blame for things that went wrong (often sheltering “the team” from outside criticism).  Great leaders build credibility through the transparency, consistency, predictability and integrity of their words and actions.