Think about it….are you the same person with the same values when no one is looking? I would like to think most people are. However, I also realize this may not always be the case.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about a story I had read about one person’s contagious energy and enthusiasm which motivated everyone to get an insurmountable task completed. Once the task was done everyone celebrated, not only because the task was done, but because they came together, worked together, and didn’t stop until the task was finished. Then they had a celebration like nothing anyone had ever seen.
It happens at work too – I’ve seen it. Let’s say you’ve got a huge inspection coming up from a lender, owner, or a government agency. Everyone pulls out all the stops to make sure everything is spic-n-span clean. Your supervisor is there too, pitching in just like everyone else to get the job done. The inspector arrives and after a long grueling day of walking units and the property you get the inspection results. You passed! Of course, you knew you would, after all, everyone pitched in and gave every last ounce of energy they could muster to make sure the inspection was a success. Is that really the end of the story? Actually, it’s not. It’s what happens going forward that really tells the story.
As a side note, if you are doing your job every day to the best of your ability, you should never have to panic when notified of an inspection. Next, there are some great tools out there to help you be more proactive in managing the property, so you never have to be reactive (I’ve got proven solutions to being successful). And finally, do you pull out all the stops 100% of the time or just when people are watching? It’s a legit question you need to ask yourself from time to time. Hopefully the answer is always a loud YES! Think of how much easier your job might become if you always did things above board and gave 100% all the time.
Let’s go back to the story from a few weeks ago. After the task was done and the celebrating ended, the people still had a strong sense of accomplishment. They felt great about what they had achieved and where they were going in the future. They were strong, renewed, hopeful, and excited about what was ahead of them. As it happens, after a period of time, their motivator who got the ball rolling had to leave on business but was confident they would continue on without wavering. After all, they had all been doing their jobs to the best of their ability for an exceptionally long time. Their leader had also left someone else in charge he thought would keep everyone going. However, it didn’t take long once he had left for things to go back to the way they were, a disorganized unruly mess. One small stretch of the laws, seemingly not important at all, led to another, and things just snowballed downhill very quickly. Sort of a “when the cats away the mice will play” scenario. That’s how it happens, one slight deviation of the rules, bend one rule, make one exception, go against what you know is right, no matter how insignificant it may seem, will always spiral in the wrong direction. Even if you think no one will ever know…trust me, they will!
Why do you suppose that happens? Have you ever noticed that? When someone is watching (a boss, supervisor, etc) people will pull out all the stops and perform with the highest of standards, exhibit a strong work ethic, and do it all with the utmost integrity. But, as soon as they aren’t being watched closely, just like the people in the story, they let down their guard, relax their standards, and fall back into some potentially bad habits. Maybe people think things will be easier if they relax a bit at work…I don’t know. I’m not saying everyone does this, and again I’d like to believe no one does, but the truth is it happen.
It takes a strong person to hold true and stand on the high standards they live by and believe in, especially when no one is looking. Think about your favorite supervisor for a second. Did they practice what they preach 100% of the time, even when no one was looking? Did you trust what they said 100% of the time? As much time as we all spend at work, you’d know if they did or didn’t. Nothing is truly “unseen”. Did their actions and words go hand in hand? Did they ever ask you to change a number to make a report look better? After all, they would say, it’s just a number and doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things. Did they put a spin on something to make it sound acceptable and ethical? Did they not want to give a bad report and needed to buy some more time to get things fixed?
My experience is people can get really creative to cover up doing things that are not quite above board.
Your self respect is much more important than you may realize. It also goes hand in hand with your reputation in your chosen career. Most industries have thousands of people and while you may never meet all of them, you will always run across someone who knows someone you know. As large as the business world is, in reality it’s a very small “world” when it comes to your reputation.
Personally, I would much rather work with someone I respect, where integrity and ethics are words they use every day and what they practice when no one is looking. What about you?
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