All that matters is integrity.
Any relationship between two individuals or between an individual and an organisation or between two organisations can be strong only if there is complete integrity on both sides.
A few years back, a customer reported a problem in a machine that had been supplied by us just over a year earlier. When our Service Engineer checked the machine, he found that a part had got badly worn out and had to be replaced. He informed the customer, who asked us to supply the part immediately. Since the machine’s warranty had expired, he would have to pay Rs. 6,000 for the part.
The next morning, another Service Engineer met me and informed me that he had worked on the same machine the previous week. The damaged part had been perfectly OK then. Since it had got badly worn out in a very short time, he felt that he might have made some mistake while refixing the part that day. He had obtained the correct procedure from the manufacturer. Now, he was sure that he had indeed made a mistake. He felt that we must not charge the customer for the replacement part and offered to pay for it himself.
I immediately replied that, while he had definitely made a mistake, I appreciated his honesty, particularly because nobody would have known if he hadn’t pointed out his own mistake. I also turned down his offer to pay for the part because, since his employer gets full credit for his good work, his employer will also take full responsibility for his mistakes.
We informed the customer exactly what had happened, assured him that the part was being replaced free of cost, and apologised for the inconvenience caused to him.
This Service Engineer was in the last month of probation when this incident took place. Prior to this incident, we were not sure whether we would confirm his appointment. Needless to say, his appointment was confirmed!
On another occasion, a competitor’s Assistant Sales Manager had applied to us for the post of Sales Manager. He had performed extremely well in the interview, when I asked him how many orders he was expecting to book for his current employer in the immediate future. He immediately pulled out a sheet of paper from his folder and handed it to me. It was a list of customers with all details. I gave it back to him and told him that we would revert to him soon. When he left, my colleague and I lost no time in agreeing that, while this gentleman was a perfect fit for our requirement, his total lack of integrity meant we wouldn’t touch him with a bargepole!
Finally, this is what Warren Buffet said: “In looking for people to hire, look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.”