Liar, liar, pants on fire – what to do about office Pinocchios
  • leadership
  • Blog post

Liar, liar, pants on fire – what to do about office Pinocchios

You know for a fact that things happened a certain way, and here your employee is swearing to you that something entirely different went down.

The realization is uncomfortable, but inevitable: This person is lying.

So what does a manager do about a liar? It depends on the context.

Deal with it
Here are some questions to ask yourself when dealing with prevaricating employees:

  • Are they breaking rules or laws? If the lie is an attempt to conceal a violation of company policy or employment law, you’ll have to mount a formal investigation.
  • Are they harming you or their colleagues? Employees may lie to divert blame away from themselves, even if it means landing co-workers – or you – in the soup. In such cases, you’ll probably want to confront them with the impact of their lies on others.
  • Are they habitually untruthful? You may be able to tolerate a person who, under pressure and exceptionally, varies from the truth. But if you can’t trust someone because he or she lies with regularity, you may want to re-evaluate that person’s employment.
  • Is the lie a “white” one? If the lie is told to spare a colleague embarrassment or preserve team cohesion, you may want to let it go. But make sure the liar knows you know.

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