When we look to do business with an organization, we look to work with people in that organization that have both competency and character. First, we need people who know their jobs, and have the skills and experience to take care of what we need them to do for us. Second, and every bit as important, if not more so, we need them to be honest, have integrity and be people of character. A definition that I have used for character for many years is doing the right thing when nobody is watching. Carey Nieuwhof writes in his new book Didn’t See It Coming, that all the competency in the world can’t compensate for a lack of character.
My wife and I recently had an unexpected encounter with a person in a service profession who demonstrated honesty, integrity and character. An indicator light in Tammy’s car showed that the front left tire was running low. That was surprising as she had bought four new tires just five months ago. After adding air to the tire, we noticed a bubble in it so she set up an appointment to get the tire replaced. What happened next was a true demonstration of honesty, integrity and character.As the service personnel put the car on a hoist to inspect the tire, something completely unexpected was found. That’s when the service manager called us over. He indicated that the tires we had on our car were not the ones we thought we had purchased five months ago. Someone else was driving around with those tires. The tires that had been put on my wife’s car were tires of a lower quality. After apologizing to us, he indicated that they would be putting four new tires of the appropriate quality on the car.
We were stunned. First, because we didn’t get the correct tires. But that’s just a mistake that the service personnel made. What was amazing was that the service manager admitted the mistake, which took humility on his part. It would have been easier to just replace the one tire and send us on our way. We would never have known the difference, and would have been satisfied to get a new tire. But he didn’t do that. He told us the truth. His honesty, integrity and character had a short-term cost (the cost of four new tires and the admission of a mistake in the service department), but a much greater long-term gain in reputation and trust. And the service department is a major factor in our decision on where we’ll buy a new car. We’ve already told several people this story and shared it on social media. And given the choice, who do you think we would rather do business with in the future?
What can we learn from this? I think Carey Nieuwhof sums it up well for us when he states that your competency leaves the first impression, but your character leaves the lasting one.
Do you have a story in which someone surprised you with their honesty, integrity and character? If you do, please share.