Where has honesty in the workplace gone? With multiple reports of dishonesty in the workplace hitting headlines lately (yes, I’m thinking Te’o and Armstrong), it’s got me thinking: Do one-size-fits-all rules exist to navigating honesty in the workplace?
The short answer is “no.” The one-size-fits-all concept doesn’t work for most people in any situation, let alone in the workplace. Each company is different. Corporate and office dynamics change from year to year, and sometimes much more often than that. But in Manti Te’o’s case, for example, is it ok to tell certain colleagues and members of your “team” the truth about a situation and not others? Where does full disclosure actually come into play in the workplace?
Whether you’re facing fallout from unusual personal behavior online or you’re confronted with other ethical dilemmas at work, we all encounter issues with honesty in the workplace from time to time. However, it’s how we handle these situations that make the true difference in how our coworkers and employers view and trust us.
With that in mind, here are some tried and true rules to workplace honesty to keep in mind:
1. Address mistakes as soon as possible. When faced with situations of dishonesty at work, this will help everyone out in the long run. Mistakes happen, and covering them up only perpetuates the behavior of being dishonest. Your employer and coworkers will appreciate that you’re coming clean and cleaning up your mistake is often easier when done quickly and with honesty.
2. Know where your words hold no weight. Yes, it’s true that sometimes your words and opinion won’t hold the weight that it would if said by someone else. Know your place in your office. If your boss or manager holds more weight in the situation and would be less likely to be reprimanded for his or her honesty, perhaps it’s better to privately discuss the issue with this person. Don’t step on toes in the office unless it’s necessary.
3. Honesty is not always the best policy in the workplace. Now, I’m not at all telling you it’s ok to lie, but being completely honest won’t always serve you well in the workplace. Why?
Not all situations are black and white. Every situation in the workplace will require you to use your best judgement when deciding what path to take.
There’s always going to be that one coworker who doesn’t pull their weight or goes about things their own way. But does this mean you should be honest with them and your employer about their lacking work ethic? Not necessarily. Again, use your best judgment.
Have you found yourself in trouble due to inappropriate workplace honesty? What role do you think honesty plays at work? Share your discussion in the comments below!
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.