Have you ever caught an employee in a lie? How serious was the lie? Did the person own up to it? Were there any repercussions? Lying under any circumstances should not be tolerated. In a professional setting, a lie of any sort, can erode confidence in your company, diminish morale or cause turmoil among coworkers, and potentially have grave consequence for the business.
Catching a weak, low performing employee in a lie can be the “final straw” and they are often quickly terminated. Catching a top employee, one who has always held your trust and confidence, is much more disheartening. The action steps for addressing each employee should remain the same.
Here are some suggestions when an employee is caught lying:
Is it possible that the person isn’t really lying? Before jumping to conclusions, make certain to perform your due diligence and double-check the story. Consider the source and corroborate any lingering doubts. It’s quite conceivable that there are additional details that may absolve any guilt from the person accused of lying.
There are lies that require full-blown damage control to ensure that the company’s reputation isn’t compromised or that client and prospect relationships aren’t ruined. There are also “white-lies” that typically have minor, if any, long-term repercussions for the company. Both of these situations must be handled accordingly. Don’t jump until you are positive the facts are correct. Remember once you say something – you can never take it back, especially if you didn’t have all of the facts!
No employee should feel that they’re able to “get away with it.” Lying tells you a lot about the person’s overall integrity. Regardless of the employee’s position, status or tenure within your company, you must be proactive and not assume that it was a “one-time” circumstance. A person who lies and is not caught may feel emboldened to do it again, even when the stakes are a bit higher. As the cliché goes it’s better to nip it in the bud. Have a non-confrontational conversation with the employee, hear them out, and discuss the consequences of their actions. These can include a reassignment of their position, elimination of any performance bonus, immediate termination, or a scheduled follow-up employment review.
The best way to discourage lying—and to encourage honest and forthrightness—is to practice truth-telling and demonstrate this quality to others. Employees will reward your honesty with honesty of their own. Also, review your Employee Handbook to ensure there are adequate protocols to follow if an employee is caught lying. If these protocols don’t exist, you must create them and inform employees of the consequences when they lie. Remember to work with your Employment & Labor Attorney to get the correct terminology in the Handbook.
While it may “feel” different when a top, trusted employee is caught in a lie, it must not be handled differently. Honesty and full disclosure must be part of your Corporate Culture for ALL employees in your firm.
For further discussion or comments, please contact Gail L. Trugman Nikol, President Unique Business Solutions, email@example.com or call (516) 935-5641.