Attitude of Honesty in the Workplace

“For success, attitude is equally as important as ability”- Sir Walter Scott

I agree with Mr. Scott, so let’s examine what comprises attitude and what makes it “as important as ability” to success.  For this discussion, we’ll define attitude (by which I presume Mr. Scott means positive attitude) as the state of mind, behavior, and social skill that is conducive to productivity in the workplace.  It is not coincidental that attitude and personal honesty provide the same positive workplace attributes since personal honesty lies at the core of positive attitude.

Because job candidates can fake a positive attitude, employers sometimes mistake a façade of friendliness, compatibility, and enthusiasm for attitude.  That’s why it is important to identify attitude’s core, which is honesty, and screen for honesty in job candidates.

Good workers possess the personal honesty or humility to accept their own faults and weaknesses, and account for them.  In the workplace as in nearly every other lifepath, individuals who possess the humility to acknowledge the gaps in their own knowledge, to appreciate their co-workers’ expertise, and to recognize the importance of fostering enduring workplace relationships will possess the attitude that makes them good long term employees.

Every company is unique, but all employers are looking for basic attitudinal qualities like dependability, competence, and teamwork.  Through effective resume screening and “All About You Interviews,” employers can identify the good-worker gene in job candidates.  Look for personal honesty and you’ll find the attitude you’ve been seeking.

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How to Identify Soft Skills in a Job Candidate

Every job requires people skills, also known as soft skills.  One position, a customer service manager, may require more soft skills, while another, a software engineer requires less, but all jobs entail some amount of human interaction, so soft skills are always needed.  How does an interviewer know how to identify soft skills in a candidate?

To answer that question, we must first consider what personal qualities underlie exceptional service or soft skills.  Once we know that, we can select candidates who possess those qualities.  It ends up there is a single quality that gives a service worker good soft skills.  That quality is personal honesty.

In his book, Hire Honesty, Bill McConnell explains that personal honesty rests at the foundation of positive customer service attributes like patience, listening ability, humility, and empathy.  Honest people acknowledge the world around them as it really is.  So they are used to handling real world situations and the challenges posed by them.  When honest people are confronted with another person’s problems, they have the worldly understanding that allows for practical responses.  This way, honest people solve problems instead of exacerbating them.

So how do you identify customer service skills in a job candidate?  You look for personal honesty.  “But,” you respond, “honesty is a hard concept to pin down.”  And you’re right.  Besides a witty liar can fake honesty.  So that’s where “managed conversation” and “all about you” interviews come into the picture.  We’ll discuss those in another blog.

Identifying the Good Worker Gene

Wouldn’t it be great if we could identify the one fundamental attribute that practically guarantees that someone will be a great worker?  The fact is we can.  But when looking for good workers to hire, most companies grope around looking for undefined predictors when there is one principal quality that constitutes a “good-worker gene.”  That quality is personal honesty.

Personal honesty transmshutterstock_127110179-2its workplace traits that extend beyond simply “saying what you mean.”  It conveys reliability, trust, conscientiousness, compatibility, and more.  Honesty among workers allows management to focus their attention on planning, productivity, and profitability instead of on absenteeism, low morale, and theft.

What exactly is honesty?  Let’s use the definition provided by Bill McConnell in his book, Hire Honesty.

“Honesty is a person’s deliberate effort to say, act on, and accept things as they are known or are perceived to be.”

Even with this definition in hand, judgement is still needed to determine if a person is honest, because honesty has fuzzy edges.  Dishonesty, however, is often easily recognized and dramatically felt.  To defend the workplace from dishonesty, employers must simply recognize it, isolate it, and reject it.

McConnell puts it this way, “The worst that can be said about an honest employee is that he or she did not perform well and needs better training.  The best that can be said about a dishonest employee is that he or she has not been caught cheating yet.”

Do your workers have good-worker genes?  If they are honest, they do.  Great workers are honest workers.