Running a software company is hard. Your days can feel like a blur with daily activities challenging you to lose sight of your company’s long-term objectives. With the downstream impact of your decisions and all the subtle nuances of handling things correctly, the right way can often be hidden in the momentum of keeping your group moving in the right direction.
In some of the tougher decisions, the margin of error is very small, the information you need is always lacking and the impact of making the wrong decision is far-reaching.
When you find yourself in these situations, you end up wishing for some sort of finite answer- a type of “insider” knowledge to provide you with guidance and help avoid making any mistakes. Other times, you wish the decision you take goes unnoticed and undetected in hopes of lightening the burden if/when the situation goes sour.
If drawn to this line of thinking, you will not be in your position for too long. This path leads down a slippery, slippery slope; one that is hard to catch your footing on and reverse course. It is on this path where you tend to lose a crucial moral characteristic: Integrity.
The best definition of integrity I’ve heard is: “Making the right decision or action when no one else will ever know what you did.”
When you have long-term client relationships, measured in terms of decades, integrity becomes the most important quality to keep front and center. These clients have known you for many years and therefore have a strong sense of how you work and what you value. A lack of integrity with longstanding clients can cause a ripple in your relationship and lead to mistrust. Once lost, it is very, very hard to regain.
Internally, if employees find a disconnect between what their company says they uphold and what they actually follow through on, it can cause a rift between team members and managers.
Managers should pay close attention to the tradeoffs they’re making and not avoid having the hard discussions with the right people. Integrity centers on truthfulness; what better way to promote transparency within a company than by having these regular discussions with other employees?
Lacking integrity in the workplace is a talent virus. It will drive away good employees and create bad habits in existing ones. Truly living by integrity means creating an open company culture where each person exemplifies trustworthiness in their own character and translates it into everything they do.
How do you promote integrity within your own business?