World thought leaders in High Performance


HPO Factor Management Quality: Integrity

Integrity is defined as ‘moral uprightness.’ HPO managers show their integrity by having a strong set of ethics and standards according to which they live and practice business. They practice what they preach and walk the talk, thereby displaying behavioral consistency. Employees and colleagues see them because of that as being credible and consistent. In addition, HPO managers ensure that the values of the organization are maintained and valued by everybody, thus creating a morally intelligent organization. Finally, they do not try to win a popularity contest with employees and colleagues but treat everybody in the same way, always.


Integrity is, like trust, a characteristic that is difficult to improve. It seems you either have it or you don’t. However, you can start creating an environment of integrity by doing the following:

  • Make ‘integrity’ one of the organization’s core values and make sure everybody knows it.
  • Ensure that there is only one standard of integrity throughout the company. Ingrain this standard so much in the organization’s DNA that the meaning of integrity is constant and not affected by the chief executive officer who is in charge at the time.
  • Install integrity procedures to describe how to develop, foster and maintain ethical decision making.
  • Formulate integrity metrics for each business process. Hold managers accountable for positive results on these performance indicators.
  • Discuss ethics and integrity frequently and openly during all kinds of meetings.
  • Reward people for blowing the whistle on ethical and integrity breaches. Employees should not have to be afraid to hold their managers accountable for integrity problems.
  • Check that there is no disconnection between the organizational targets and integrity, so that people do not have to resort to unethical activities to achieve the targets.

The issue with integrity is not so much about things going wrong – as in business there is always something going wrong – but about how one responds to that. So, you are not trying to check if people are doing things perfectly all the time. It is about whether they are open and transparent about what they do, that they do not hide their problems. There is an ongoing dialogue between us about what we are trying to achieve in this business. You know, conversations can get very heated, we can disagree. I can say, “Look, I have seen this data and this is your strategy, I disagree with that strategy and this is what you should be taking into account, and I really think you have ignored this and you need to go after this.” And then, the manager either accepts what you just said and says, “I acknowledge we missed these things, we are going to change this”, or the manager says, “You were here last week, you challenged these things. I have looked at it again and I am convinced that what I am thinking is the right thing to do.” And frankly, most often my judgment will be to let the manager do what he has decided, I trust his integrity that he has done what What makes a high performance organization he said. In fact, people here take bad performance personally, it literally upsets them. They have so much integrity that they are very determined to solve the issue, they have got to fix it, no matter what.

— Alan Clark, SAB Miller Europe