What does integrity “look like” in your business? In recruiting employees, what demonstrates integrity? Integrity does not have to be an obscure and intangible concept. Behaviors that are indicative of integrity usually surface when we see a person’s ability to communicate openly with co-workers or when anemployee does “the right thing” when doing the opposite would be much easier for him or her.

Managers can nurture integrity by creating and emphasizing a work environment in which it is acceptable to admit to mistakes or share bad results. We see integrity often in the plant when a supervisor apologizes for a misunderstanding with an employee, or when an employee realizes he or she forgot to return a tool to the proper place. These examples may seem trivial, but integrity exists in various ways and degrees. So, how do you hire employees with integrity?

#1 Use surveys and interviews to prioritize a list of the top 5 or 10 behaviors your company desires most in potential employees. People should agree if their employees demonstrate those behaviors, then your organization is living up to its own expectations of integrity.

#2 It is important that the issue of integrity is re-visited during the recruiting/interview process so that practices can be modified if needed. This includes managers as well as potential employees. For example, if interviewing a candidate who is already employed elsewhere, you must also exhibit integrity during the interview. Being competitive or behaving unprofessionally can damage your and your company’s image of integrity.

#3 Connect behavior/integrity to employees’ performance reviews. You must ensure that employees follow suit after integrity-based behaviors are identified as important to your organization. An assessment, via interviews, surveys, or meetings, can help create a basis for determining if these behaviors are being exhibited and taken seriously. No one wants to work for or with employees who cannot be trusted, someone who cannot or does not communicate honestly, or someone who does do the right thing in spite of peer pressure.

#4 Evaluate the culture or previous experiences behind the behavior. This is crucial in understanding why others behave in certain ways. Although an employee may know the rules, he or she may be unable or unwilling to follow them if pressure is felt from co- workers or managers. Understanding “why” an employee behaves the way he does is key to solving problems. Previous experiences at another workplace may have significantly affected a new employee. Learning what types of work pressures encourage or force people to act unethically will assist you in creating an environment of integrity.