The Situation:

I just hung up the phone with a distraught manager who asked for coaching on an integrity issue.

“Garrett, these are employees I trusted,” she said. “They told me how hard they work and how exhausted they are. I’ve pulled, pushed, and moved mountains for them. I have bent over backward to lobby for my team. I’ve worked to secure them additional compensation and grace because of the unique business climate they are operating in.”

The manager fell silent for an extended pause. Then she continued. “I feel like a fool. I feel a little bit deceived, and I’m not sure what to do.”

“Sounds like this took you by surprise, and that can sting,” I replied. “Tell me what happened.”

For ten minutes I listened as she explained her situation, her evidence, her conclusions, and the betrayal she felt.

The manager’s sales team was not working. When she had looked over the activity level of the team members, she had found that their weekends began early and ended later than most. Their activity around holidays was minimal. Because of her devotion and confidence, she had neglected to study the numbers as closely as she should have. Now she felt foolish and betrayed.

Thirty minutes later, we had settled on a plan to confront their work ethic and integrity issues. The plan was not about catching employees doing right and wrong. Such confrontations are about what happens when lack of integrity is revealed.

The Impact:

“I’m going to have to babysit these three,” the manager finished. “I’ll have to check up on them and be the micromanaging boss I never wanted to be. It just sucks.”

She had discovered that when your colleagues and associates display a lack of integrity, they rob you of your productivity. Instead of concentrating on growth activity, you are tracking down reports, asking probing questions, and in the quiet of the day wondering if this group of misfits is working or not.

Building an atmosphere of trust is important (see this great post by my friend Dave Anderson). However, once it is broken, it is difficult to repair. Assuming the employees remain with the company, the productivity of all parties suffers.

Productivity comes to a screeching halt for managers who have to start micromanaging, babysitting, and playing detective. Their fear of being fooled again can become an overriding emotion that dictates all their interactions. Meanwhile, the guilty parties are insulted and annoyed by this new level of scrutiny. They become smarter so as not to draw the attention of their manager’s watchful eye.  Their negative feelings often translate into a lower, poorer, and less cooperative performance.

The Solution:

Productivity rarely recovers. When we hire integrity, we acquire the pieces we need to build a team of trust. You must start with the right pieces. A trusted team leaves you free to pour energies into positive activities that build team and business productivity.

One executive told me, “When I trust my people, I double, sometimes triple, my capacity and output.”

Learn how to hire integrity here.

HiringGarrett Miller