Discover more from How to Lead Everybody (with their permission)
Dealing with Low-Integrity People
Spoiler Alert: Don't
Working in the real world, we sometimes have to deal with low-integrity people.
The problem with this is that WE can be damaged by this association.
The low-integrity person might throw us under the bus to avoid their own accountability.
The low-integrity person might open up our firm to legal exposure.
Our association with the low-integrity person might erode the trust that other people have in us.
If you discover that someone has low integrity, take steps to not work with that person again, if possible. If they are on your team (or you are on theirs), verify the facts of the situation before taking any actions. Talk to the people involved and see what they say, so you avoid misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the situation. But if you do confirm that this person has been lying, cheating, or stealing, it’s best to get them off your team (or get yourself off of theirs). As leaders, we can’t let something like this fester or continue without consequences.
Of course, it’s not always possible to avoid working with some low-integrity people. If you must do so, then document, document, document. Document like you will one day be reading those documents aloud in a deposition (since that’s a distinct possibility). For example, after a meeting or a phone call with the low-integrity person, send a follow-up email: “Glad we were able to discuss this today. To confirm: I’ll be doing A, B, and C by this Friday, and you will be doing X, Y, and Z by the 12th.” Send it to the other person, and BCC yourself. If you think it’s a good idea, include your boss and/or their boss: “I’m CCing Sam and Janet, so we’re all in the loop on this.”
These kinds of CYA activities are time-consuming and stress-inducing, but if someone isn’t trustworthy, these activities are unfortunately necessary. Protect yourself, your people, and your company.