Do something wrong? Lie about it and it will go away – or so the logic goes for some workers. Whether your office is filled with a horde of dishonest employees or you simply have one chronic tale-teller with whom to deal, your response to this dishonesty can make a big difference. Because dishonesty can prove an irritation at best and a major problem at worst, you should swiftly and effectively handle any instances.
Pick out the liar. Much to the chagrin of many bosses, dishonesty in the workplace often first surfaces when two workers tell strikingly different tales of the same event. When this happens, it can be difficult to discern who is telling the truth and whose pants should rightfully be blazing. Before you can confront the lying, you must determine who the liar is. Watch for some of the most common signs of lying, including holding the body especially still, overly rapid or exceptionally slow response and excessive face touching. If one of the story-tellers displays one or more of these signs, she is likely the one pulling your proverbial chain.
Gather irrefutable evidence. If you confront your liar without adequate proof you know what she will do? Probably lie. How do you know? Because she is a liar. Just as zebras don’t change their stripes, your liar likely won’t change her ways. Before you even think about talking to the liar about her dishonesty, arm yourself with something undeniable, such as video proof that she is lying. By coming to the table with this proof, you can dispense with much of the “I didn’t do it” cries and move on to the crux of the conversation.
Hand out a targeted sanction. To get your love-to-lie employee to stop, you are going to have to apply some kind of penalty. Select a penalty that you see fit, such as a formal write-up or, in more serious cases, a suspension from work. When you hand out the punishment, make it abundantly clear that the reason the employee is being punished is because she was lying. This not only gives the employee the slap on the wrist she may need, it also alerts her to the fact that she is on your radar.
Provide training on the topic. Okay, so you dealt with one liar, but just like killing the one ant that is crawling across your kitchen floor won’t rid you of the infestation, this won’t be enough. Take a proactive approach to preventing future lying by holding a training session on the topic, recommends Mark Gorkin of “Workforce.” Require all employees to attend regardless of whether you suspect them of dishonesty. In this training, discuss a working definition of honesty and go over some of the sanctions to which employees could be subject should they be caught lying. By holding this session, you can ensure that your employees are adequately informed of your expectations and prove to them that you are ready to come down hard on dishonesty within the workplace, potentially reducing their eagerness to lie in the future.
Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.