Career Development

How to Show Professional Integrity at Work

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Having professional integrity promotes positive interactions and helps you achieve academic and career goals. How you present yourself in professional settings is an accurate representation of your personal values. This article explores professional integrity and how you can exhibit integrity in the workplace and in educational environments.

What is professional integrity?

Professional integrity refers to the positive values and respectful behaviors that people display in professional settings. Whether you realize it or not, the people you interact with daily are watching your behaviors. Being honest, respectful and focused while taking responsibility for your actions, no matter the consequences, are key elements of professional integrity. 

How to show integrity at work

Here are some simple steps to follow to show your integrity at work:

1. First, arrive on time and ready to work

It may seem like common sense to arrive on time for work, but sometimes it’s easy to get in the habit of being late. Preparation is key, especially if you have an early shift. Go to bed on time and get up when the alarm goes off, no matter how tempting it is to hit the snooze button. Sometimes, poor management encourages late arrivals, so keep in mind that just because your superiors might not follow the rules doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow the rules.

2. Second, follow through with your obligations

When there are instances at work where you promise to finish a project or meet a deadline, you should plan to honor your commitments. If it helps, set frequent reminders on your phone or write the deadline in a visible spot so you don’t forget about it. And if you truly can’t follow through, let the person know and make other arrangements. This builds trust and respect among coworkers.

3. Third, be observant

Even if you’re not actively engaged in a conversation, there will be times when it’s helpful to recognize social cues or situations where you need to step in and assist someone with a task. Take time to look around and observe your surroundings. Whether your working at the computer or you’re in the middle of a complex project, it’s important to take breaks throughout the day for a fresh perspective. Plus, this makes you more productive and less irritable at the end of the day. 

4. Fourth, focus on your job

It’s easy to become distracted at work when there are a lot of people around, especially when they need your attention. Focus on your workload for the day and try to minimize interruptions in your work, even if that means asking someone to come back later when you have a break. 

5. Fifth, become friends with honest people

People with integrity are honest and true in their actions, which means that they often clash with people who act with defiance and opposition to rules. In order to promote professional integrity at work, consider keeping your interactions with dishonest people to a minimum and spend the majority of your time with people who hold similar values. 

6. Sixth, assume responsibility

Sometimes work conflicts arise, and you may be part of an issue that needs attention. In this case, accept your role with dignity and confidence, even if it means receiving a negative consequence. Most people respond well to heartfelt apologies and forgive any wrongdoings. You can go one step further by keeping your word in the future or demonstrating your remorse with a kind deed.

7. Finally, respect others

When people respect one another, the opportunity for conflict decreases. Businesses who show respect for their employees naturally show respect for their customers as well, and tend to excel in other areas of business. Treat your coworkers and others around you with respect and you’ll find that the work environment becomes a happy place.

Best skills that show professional integrity

Here are some of the best skills regarding integrity and how they may apply to you:

  • Respectful. You value the opinions of others and strive to promote positive interactions that show demonstrate respect.
  • Honest. When you’re honest, you seek truth and speak it to others. You appreciate honest colleagues and peers. In addition, you admit to any mistakes and see them as a learning experience. 
  • Trustworthy. You follow through with work projects and assignments and let people know when plans change. 
  • Hardworking. When you’re at work, you get things done efficiently and with purpose. 
  • Responsible. You accept assignments and tasks with confidence because you know you’re going to finish them.
  • Patient. Sometimes things take a while, but that doesn’t bother you. You see value in learning experiences and work hard to achieve goals, even if they take longer. 
  • Helpful. You’re always willing to assist when needed. You welcome opportunities where you can be helpful. 
  • Gracious. You express gratitude for help and congratulate people on their achievements. 
  • Organized. You recognize that being organized helps you function better in work and school situations, and strive to keep things in their proper places. You like to plan ahead by making goals. 

When listing your skills or attributes on a resume, these are some of the keywords you could use to demonstrate your professional integrity.

Professional integrity examples

Here are a few scenarios involving conflict and ways to find solutions using integrity: 

Example 1: Conflicts regarding honesty

Nancy worked with her creative department to develop fun names for a new children’s product. When it launched, it was so popular that it sold out in the first week. Because Nancy had been successful in the past with generating winning ideas, her boss assumed she had named the product and rewarded her with a gift card. She knew she had only contributed to the discussion and could not take sole credit for the success. She let her boss know the specifics of the group effort and declined the gift card. 

Example 2: Dealing with gossip

Claire heard two of her coworkers discussing sensitive information regarding another coworker. When they asked her opinion, she said told them she didn’t like to talk about people who could not defend themselves. She then asked if they had discussed the matter with the person they were criticizing and ultimately left the room to resume work. 

Example 3: Navigating hard decisions

John was walking the aisles at work one day when he noticed his coworker acting suspiciously. When he observed him further, he noticed that he was playing a game on his phone during his shift, which was not allowed. He decided to casually approach his coworker to ask if he could help stock shelves. As they walked back to the storehouse, he decided to remind his coworker about the cell phone policy and let him know that he could give him other tasks to do if he ran out of work.