5 Ways To Build Job Integrity: Maintaining Career Honesty

Taking ethical shortcuts on the job may cause you to lose your credibility. Establish a reputation for trust, integrity, and respect.

History books are full of stories about those who tried to cheat their employers and were caught. The sad thing is that those in search of the shifty deceiver's fraudulent practices overlook those who follow the high moral path.

Living a double life on the job is unwholesome and unhealthy. Stress builds when we try to take unfair advantage of an employer and then cover it up for perhaps several years. Who wants to live like that, always wondering if you'll get found out and what your family will think? Many executives have committed suicide when confronted by their misdeeds or threatened with the possibility of discovery.

If you're tempted to take a shortcut at your job, think twice. Instead of leaving a legacy of guilt and shame, build a reputation for honest dealing and ethical standards. Here are some tips that can help:

1. Maintain accurate records. Don't fudge the numbers after a business trip or write off a family party as company entertainment. Write exact figures on the time card or an expense sheet rather than rounding up numbers to pocket a little extra reimbursement. Be sure to account for all personal or company expenses that are related to your job.

2. Be accountable to another employee. This is especially important if you are responsible for managing a sizable company account or oversee a departmental budget. Show monthly figures to someone you trust who can double-check them for accuracy. Both you and the company will benefit when you go the extra mile to build trust. Get in the habit of having coffee with those you respect, and you will earn a reputation of being like them as well as learn from their wisdom and experience.

3. Keep your word. Don't make promises you can't keep or lie about something that you said or did. Even small white lies can be dangerous when exposed. Follow through when asked to do something, and don't blame others when mishaps occur. Take responsibility for your actions when things don't work out rather than resorting to excuses or half-truths.

4. Don't take advantage of relationships. Avoid cultivating professional friendships because of possible advantages the person may offer. Don't expect favors or preferential treatment. Follow the usual protocol instead of relying on who you know to help cut through red tape for you. Never attempt to bribe, threaten, or flatter someone into doing something for you.

5. Pull your weight. Stealing from your employer can take many forms, including not giving a full day's work. Don't overstay your welcome in the break room, or take a two-hour lunch. Call off sick only when you really are ill. Avoid complaining, gossiping, arguing, or joking too much around the office. All of these steal time from your job duties.

Chances are you'll hear the small voice of conscience when tempted to do something you shouldn't in the workplace. The next time it whispers, listen carefully, and don't allow yourself to do something that will jeopardize your reputation or your career. Most things in life can be earned or bought back when lost, but losing your good name may be permanent.

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