Hiring integrity not only multiplies your ability to be productive but may also increase your capacity to turn a profit.

We took the kids out for a meal last night to recognize their efforts during this past marking period. We decided on Macaroni Grill in Mount Olive, NJ. We placed our orders with our server  Kenny; he rewarded us by delivering two hot loaves of delicious bread to our table. Our meals soon followed—well, most of them.

Kenny scanned the table, pointing to each meal as he remembered our orders. He stopped at my wife and said, “I’m sorry—what did you order again?” She repeated her order, and Kenny was gone in a flash only to reappear seconds later. “I am sorry; I screwed up. I neglected to enter in your order. It will be out in moments.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. I was dumbfounded. “Kids, did you hear what he said?”

My children looked at me, and my oldest son knew exactly what had sparked my interest. He smiled. “He said ‘I screwed up.’”

One of our family’s philosophies is to live a life of personal accountability. (For more on this subject, read John G. Miller’s book, QBQ! the Question Behind the Question. get it here.) My kids have heard me speak about the importance of integrity for years. It is one of the four qualities that hiring managers look for in each prospective employee.

During my years as a hiring manager, I recognized that this quality most often developed during the first twenty years of a candidate’s life. By the time I interviewed candidates, they either had it or they didn’t.  I’m not saying this quality can’t be developed and built on in the adult years, but it is not something that I as a manager could teach someone. Employees must learn it for themselves; they must choose to own it.

It would have been easy for Kenny to have blamed the kitchen or some anonymous worker. We would never have found out, and it could’ve saved face for Kenny. We could’ve sat around the table and talked about how bad the place was and how we felt sorry for Kenny that the kitchen had failed him yet again. He could have blamed the computer system, and we would have spent the next ten minutes talking about all the ways technology has failed us. You see, without the truth we would have spent the rest of the night angry at the restaurant, building ill will and wondering where else we could have gone.

Then Kenny told us he messed up, we all understood. We all put ourselves in his situation because we’ve been there. It was the truth. When Kenny delivered the meal, he apologized once again for his mistake and actually explained what had happened. I complimented him in front of the kids and said how much we appreciated a man of integrity.

Kenny earned our respect, was a good example to my kids, and earned a healthy tip. Though my wife waited a tad longer for her meal, Kenny helped to earn our loyalty and a planned return.

As a manager, when you hire integrity, you hire much more than a helpful quality: you hire a must-have quality. One that makes you more productive, adds to your profits and protects the reputation of your business.

How do you hire integrity? There are several chapters in Hire on a WHIM loaded with questions and scenarios that will help you to find this all-important quality. Start building your low-maintenance team by looking for and hiring employees who have integrity. It will be a gift that keeps on giving.

HiringGarrett Miller