But, finding out your boss lies takes a strained employee-manager relationship to another level. Once that trust is eroded, it becomes hard to follow your boss’ direction, wondering if he or she is taking you down the right path or leading you astray.
Everything that comes out of his or her mouth becomes questionable—information about the company’s status, promises of raises or new projects, and even affirmation for your good work suddenly seems questionable. And that makes it extremely difficult to do your job effectively.
So what happens when you catch your boss in a lie or perhaps even several?
For me, having my boss lie took things to another level. It made me question everything from what the team said or did, to how we were (or more to the point weren’t) solving problems, to whether this boss person was even who they said they were.
Over the years, I’ve had plenty of bosses who have lied. It’s struck me as interesting because, although we’ve come to expect a little bit of embellishment in our work life (especially if you’re an entrepreneur) it’s something we’d never put up with in our personal lives.
For me, having a boss who lied wasn’t so much an issue as trying to figure out how to reconcile with myself if I could continue working for a boss I didn’t fully trust.
I decided in the end to make the decision based on intentions. Someone’s intentions can speak highly of them as a leader or manager. If the intention was to create a stronger outcome for the business and the team then I’d stay.
If the intention was to avoid their own responsibility to the business and self-promote their own interest then I would leave.
These are some of the questions I looked at,
I remember I sat as a jury member on a murder trial. Our job was to make a verdict on intent. Did they intend on causing grievous bodily harm? Whilst organisations are nowhere near comparable, the decision did come down to deciding on whether the CEO’s intentions were good or not.
A while ago I worked in a department on a project which was time-sensitive it involved rebuilding an entire customer database.
I was one member of a team reporting directly to the CEO.
To make sure we met our deadline, our CEO decided to announce that the company’s executive team had given us a deadline of four weeks—when it was actually six. This pushed the team to collaborate and focus on meeting the deadline and we did, we even smashed it and the team felt delighted. No one knew we had another two weeks to complete the task.
In another job, I had a boss who would often stretch the truth—especially to the media. Whenever he/she was quoted in a newspaper article or interview, there would suddenly be more employees working there. Or he/she would say to one employee that another had brought in six figures to the company and that if they wanted to access resources to build their sector they would have to do same (but the actual fact was that she had bought in the money, not the employee) some people rise to this others see through this lie and decide not to wage their future with this organisation.
The difference between the two? The first boss wanted the team to succeed; to deliver good results ahead of time that would boost the department’s reputation and value within the entire company – intentions were good.
The second wanted the company to appear successful. Then take the credit and recognition for running such a large company without actually working for those impressive numbers. This created a direct shortcut to achieve that goal—and proved a selfish intention.
2. How Does Lying Impact the Organisation
In the first situation, tighter deadlines added stress and pressure to the team’s daily lives but we found a way around it that didn’t require hours of overtime or people staying late into the night or working weekends. It proved that it was something the team was capable of all along.
In the other situation, everyone in the company started to feel uncomfortable and started operating from ‘fear’. We’d met people at events and have to lie about how well the organisation was doing or if we were asked questions by any of our clients or media contacts, internally we had to decide whether to back up our boss and perpetuate the dishonesty or speak up with the truth and risk our jobs.
The impact of the two situations varied greatly.
While one pushed the employees to greatness, the other forced the employees to dishonesty.
In the end, no matter how great your boss’ intentions, or how little the lies impact your work, the truth is that discovering that your manager has lied even once is enough to chip away your trust in him or her. And so, you have to evaluate your relationship to determine if that is something you can work around—or if you’d rather find a trustworthy boss elsewhere.
These questions provided me with enough clarity to realize that I could still work with the boss in the first situation. I saw that the intentions were good, the impact was beneficial, and overall, I still respected him as a manager and leader.
The dishonesty in the second situation, however, was something I couldn’t overlook. This boss continually lied for own benefit—regardless of how it impacted the rest of the team. That, in itself, immediately changed the way I viewed that person and took away from the respect I once had. I didn’t want to invest my time and effort in working for a leader I couldn’t trust or respect.
Catching your boss in a lie—or several—can be a tricky situation. But ask yourself a couple key questions, trust your gut feeling, and decide what’s best for your career going forward.
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