6 ways to keep people honest

By · Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019

not teaching,
still THINKING …

It’s not always easy to know “the right thing” to do, but these tips about honesty can help. They were written from the perspective of editors working with reporters in their all-important relationship. But, realistically, they can apply to just about anyone doing anything in any profession.

  1. Educate them. When it comes to plagiarism (taking credit for work that is not yours) and fabrication (making up information), be sure that people working with you know those definitions — and the consequences of plagiarizing or fabricating. Some good ways: new-hire orientation; training and re-training; brown-bag lunches.
  2. Give them enough time. Allow realistic time for work to be accomplished. For reporters, this means gathering information, checking it and writing it. Don’t pressure others to meet unrealistic deadlines. Be open-minded when people tell you they need more time.
  3. Control their workloads. Help others to pace themselves; work with them to prioritize; ask them from time to time how they are coming along. Be ready to step in with suggestions if they are having trouble. Be aware of — and sincere about — others’ personal lives, especially during any change in their lives that can cause stress.
  4. Give them feedback. Tell others when they are sloppy or careless, but be constructive. Set a standard, make others aware of it, and acknowledge when they reach or surpass that standard.
  5. Encourage teamwork. Do not foster a competitive atmosphere by recognizing only a few achievers. Instead, encourage camaraderie among co-workers.
  6. Tolerate shortcomings. When others don’t deliver what was planned, let them feel comfortable telling you. Set the proper tone by treating others with respect and reacting to them in a civilized manner.

When people fail at being honest, it’s usually because of a lack of time, a lot of stress, or undue pressure. But helping others to avoid these pitfalls can also help them to do “the right thing.”

(These two profs are no longer teaching at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, but we are still thinking.)

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