Why Integrity is a Team Activity


At RolloutSF we recently did an exercise in what we think makes teams work. We offered up our ideal words and phrases in our weekly team meeting and looked for common themes. We agreed about what matters to us: integrity.

There are lots of ways to define “integrity.” We believe integrity makes great teamwork possible because everyone commits to their tasks and delivery dates and then completes those commitments on or before the deadline.

It may seem obvious that teams that deliver on promises accomplish more, communicate better, and feel more satisfied with their teammates and clients, however it can be difficult to achieve integrity and sustain it. For example, I am writing this article way later than I promised. I was waiting for inspiration to strike and while that was happening I was drifting further away from my promise of “getting it done right away,” which turned into “while I am on my vacation I will have time,” to finally the rest of the team just having to wait for me to be done. This was supposed to be delivered last night. It wasn’t.

How can we straighten things out when we are not delivering our commitments on time?

We have to be honest in communicating about it. One of the most serious challenges around project work is that deadlines start to slip and everyone involved takes the most natural course – figuring out whose fault it must be.

I propose that integrity is a group activity – that my lateness is really the whole team’s lateness – the whole project’s lateness. This might seem radical, but imagine if everyone on the team simply said: “Tim, your article is late.” I don’t need to take it personally or make excuses – it’s a fact, this article is late. In the community of my team I can own that and get reconnected to our team integrity.

So here it is: “Guys, this article is two weeks late. In the future I will be more realistic about my schedule, honor my timeline, and deliver like I promised. You don’t need to ‘hold me to my promises’ because I commit to doing what I say I will do when I say I will do it. I recognize this cost us all time and put you in a position where you have to decide if you want to ‘police’ me about the work. It doesn’t matter if it is paid or not – I chose the timeline and delivery and if I have to pull a late night in the future I will. The impact is you can’t be sure I can deliver on time and I don’t want that.”

Integrity is binary: we are either in or out.

What sort of difference can this make in your teams and projects? We often find ourselves working with multiple companies collaborating on a single deliverable – usually a website – often tied to a major event. You can bet that each and every unfulfilled promise and late turnover sets the stage for missing the delivery – and without integrity things can quickly turn into blame and excuses.

How can we create an atmosphere of integrity around our projects?

First, we have to be willing to accept that we are responsible for maintaining integrity for the whole group. If any part is late, we are all late. It isn’t enough to say “I have my part managed.” If you are set, it’s time to lend a hand.

You might notice nearly everyone is very willing to make excuses for everyone else around delivery of work. My teammates might have been saying: “Well, Tim is pretty busy right now” while the whole time they are wanting to see this written. This is very human behavior and it can erode our integrity without us even noticing. It’s not a bad thing, just a normal thing.

To make integrity part of our working culture (or our life in general), we must have agreements on what we will do, when we will do it, and also agree to hold each other accountable. If this gives you the shivers, just notice how imagining being “called out” for your late work feels super confrontational and could lead to an argument. When we hold integrity as the first rule of the team then we aren’t trying to hide when we are not delivering. We are delivering.

RolloutSF’s expertise and brand proposition is offering high-quality, thorough execution of all the elements of your web marketing experience – website design and development, inbound marketing, sales enablement, content strategy, and search engine optimization and marketing. We’d like to be your partner in delivering work with expertise and, of course, integrity.

Timothy Thomas is SEO Specialist for RolloutSF.com.

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Timothy Thomas

Timothy Thomas has been a pioneer in SEO and SEM. He created and lead the production team for Wizards.com for tabletop game manufacturer Wizards of the Coast from 1995 through 2005. After being part of the initial e-commerce and internet explosion, he moved into technology consulting and project management roles for organizations and as an independent SEO/SEM consultant. bio

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