What Does Good Character Look Like in the Workplace?


Character, integrity and reputation. Three words we hear on a daily basis. But what do they mean? What value do they hold? Sure you could always “Google” the definition; heck Google will even show you how to use them in a sentence! But do you really understand what it means to have good character? What about integrity? What do these two words have to do with your reputation?

The Google definition of character is simply “The mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.” I’m sure that cleared everything for you, didn’t it? No?

Societal norms tell us there is “Good Character” and “Bad Character”.

Good Character vs. Bad Character

In most societies, honesty, integrity and humanity are attributes of Good Character. On the flip side, Bad Character may be exemplified by deceit, fraudulent behavior and selfishness.

Ok so let’s talk about Integrity.

Do you have a reputation for acting out good character and integrity? Or do you have a reputation for being untrustworthy and undependable?

Simply put, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.” It all boils down to trust. Take politicians for example….when the cameras are on, they kiss babies, feed the homeless, and help little old ladies cross the street. But what about when the cameras are off? We all hope they behave with “integrity”, but how can you know? We can’t unless we look at their “Reputation”.

Everyone develops a reputation for something. It’s how you’re viewed by the rest of the world. Do you have a reputation for acting out good character and integrity? Or do you have a reputation for being untrustworthy and undependable?

How do these three traits translate into the workplace?

In almost every movie dealing with any type of business you’ve heard “your reputation precedes you”. And that is oh so true.

What you do in the workplace today, can and will more than likely have an impact on the rest of your life. Your employer and your coworkers should see you as a person that has good character and integrity. This is ultimately what will bring you success at work and at home. You may be great at your job. Possibly the best in the business, but does that mean you deserve that upcoming promotion? After assessing your skills, your employer will start to look at your reputation. Do you have a good reputation or does it need some work? How people see you will often play a huge part in your employment, both in getting a job and in getting promoted.

What does good character look like in the workplace?

What are some ways you can demonstrate good character and integrity in your job?

  • Be trustworthy and dependable. If you say you will get the job done, get the job done.
  • Follow directions and do your job well. Maybe the task at hand isn’t an ideal task. Do it anyway. Don’t complain. Cleaning toilets isn’t fun but if you are asked to do it, make them sparkle.
  • When dealing with customers (and this can be a real test of your character) don’t take anything personal. Sometimes people are dealing with their own issues and want to take it out on somebody undeserving. It’s not fair, but it’s not personal. Smile, do what you can to help them and go on about your day.

People have bad days, and they have good days. This is true whether it’s a customer, a co-worker or your employer (or maybe even for yourself). Your character determines how you handle and react to people on those days.

In the end, the only thing you really have is your reputation. Work to build it up.

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Honestly Mag's staff is made up of all sorts of people; from Millennials to Gen Xers to Baby Boomers, we have all different kinds of perspective of life at work.