When someone lies – leadership edition

For me there is nothing more frustrating and disappointing than an employee who lies. 

Not only has the person proven to me they are untrustworthy, they also prevented a problem from being solved. I’m not sure which is worse.

 I have zero tolerance for liars in the workplace.  Once I have verified that they lied to me, I fire them. I don’t have the time or energy or money to fix the problems they create. It is already hard enough to fix the problems our company solves, whatever that is, without having to do double duty fixing the additional problems caused by someone who lies.

 I don’t care what the lie is. If they didn’t finish a project or can’t – tell me so we can work around it and fix the problem. Don’t tell me its going to get done and then not do it and then lie about why you didn’t do it.

 How should a leader handle this?  Professionally. First, trust but verify. Don’t assume they are lying. Find out. Do your diligence. Find out if what they are telling you is true or not. If they are telling the truth, deal with the problem and ask them to come to you for help so these things don’t get out of control.

 If they lied, say goodbye. 

But what if it’s a co-manager. Not someone who works for you but one of your colleagues?  Then you have a real problem. This is very common with passive aggressive people. I again, take a trust but verify approach. It’s all about documentation so that they can’t get away with their lies anymore.

If you have a verbal agreement, write it down and ask them to confirm via email your understanding of the agreement. That way – when they don’t do what they said they were going to do – you are no longer in a he said she said situation. 

I like to approach this as me trying to fix a communication problem. I don’t call them out as a liar. It is entirely possible I am the problem. So – I confirm and double check and put everything in writing so that the communication problems we are having are sorted out before too much work gets done. If they lie – they will be caught. And I don’t have to argue with them or accuse them of anything. I just let them dig their own hole if that’s what they want to do.

Never stoop to their level. Never make it personal. It isn’t. Either people are professional (which means ethical, honest and responsible) or they aren’t. If they aren’t, do what you need to do to protect the work (not yourself – the work), because solving problems ethically, responsibly and honestly is what good leadership is all about.
I have a short program on the principles of Humanistic Management for $15 if you are interested in learning more about the what and whys of how professionalism impact collaborative problem solving. https://humanistlearning.com/?p=2237

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