Being a successful employee – Being Trustworthy

Yesterday, I explored the first characteristic of successful employees; respect for those in authority. Another way to say that might be they honored the office or position the person held. Even when they were not good people. Through that honor, they were successful and brought glory to God.

Today, the second characteristic I want to explore is they were all trustworthy. I can almost hear you now.

“Duh”

Ok, I know it seems basic, however, trustworthiness is a trait that does separate employees in today’s workforce. In simple terms, being trustworthy is genuine, pure, or faithful. We can look at the individuals from yesterday and know they all were trusted and trustworthy. The kings of old would not give control over their kingdoms if they did not demonstrate this quality. Daniel was given oversight of all of Babylon and the wisemen because the king found him trustworthy. In the same way Nehemiah was trusted and given governorship over Judea. Joseph was given oversight for Egypt. Benenia became David’s personal guard and Pricilla and Aquila were given a leadership role in Ephesus by Paul.

So we know these individuals in various work scenarios, who had someone over them (manage) all were trustworthy. While it may be easy to build trust with someone through relationship, being trustworthy is more involved. My experience is there are times I am able to trust someone to do something, but would not consider them trustworthy. When I lived overseas, I had an employee that I trusted to deliver whatever I asked them to do. When I asked them to run a project, I knew the project would be delivered on time and within budget. However, I would not leave them in charge or would not bring them into my confidence. They would talk about other people and would look down on those who were not as smart as they were. So they were not trustworthy in my opinion.

So how does one become trustworthy? I am going to share just three biblical elements of being trustworthy. There are more, but for now will only focus on three.

1. Do what you say you will do 

One of the buzz words in the business world is accountability. Many companies have decided they need their employees to be more accountable to the results. As such, they send them through hours of training to learn how to be accountable. Accountable is a fancy word that simply means you will do what you say you will do. Trust and trustworthiness begins with this element. In Matthew 5:36-38 we are told by Jesus, “And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

When you commit to deliver something, a task, a project, a report, a phone call, an answer do it before the date and time you committed. Let your yes be yes. If you can’t deliver it in a particular time, state it up front and communicate when it can be done. If you get into the middle of the activity and you realize it will take longer, immediately communicate it will be longer and ask for an extension. Too many times we allow our committed deadline to pass without communicating the slip. I have found in 99% of the cases, a simple explanation of why I can’t deliver is enough to get some grace.  So to be trustworthy, we need to make and meet our commitments.

2. Tell the truth, don’t lie even a little bit

If you want to be successful, you must always tell the truth. In the business world it can be compelling to fudge thing just a little to keep the heat off. I remember a project that I was leading had a significant programming issue. We were trying to take a desktop application and turn it into a enterprise system. For the non-techies out there, this was a really difficult task. Even though I had tried to tell my manager how difficult it was, he didn’t care. He just told me to get it done. When we ran into a major hurdle, I kept that to myself. I believed we would find a solution and did not want to get yelled at. At the management review meeting I informed management of the issue, but I downplayed how big it was. You can imagine it did not go well when we ended up going two million dollars over budget and pushed the implementation out by two months. It was my first failure, as well as a great learning opportunity. I learned not to cover up the truth and to share it, even if it was not going to be good news. In Colossians 3:9-10 we are told, “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”

3. Don’t talk about others

Everyone would be quick to say that talking about others is not a good habit, however gossip is a standard practice in the office. My experience is talking about others usually will get back to them and then you have issues. I remember a person who would come into my office and talk about a peer. They would complain about this action or that behavior. My response was always the same and to go talk to the other person. Of course this employee never did. They liked to complain and gossip a bit too much. Then it happened. The other person was promoted and became the employees manager. It was not long before the employee left. If they had addressed any issues up front and kept their mouth shut, they might have stuck around and been successful. Because they felt the need to share their opinions about a person, it quickly got to her new manager and things went downhill from their. In Proverbs 11:13 it says, “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.”

By integrating these three elements into your daily routine, you will find yourself being trusted and your manager will begin seeing you as trustworthy. Once that happens, you will find yourself with more responsibility and new levels of success. It doesn’t have to take a long time, but you have to be consistent. This is a key ingredient in finding success in the workplace. To finish up, I love how the Message tells of Daniel’s trustworthiness in Daniel 6:4

“the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.

Let me know what you think!

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