Things you should do when you think an employee is lying to you.
Have you ever been in a position where you ask your employee a question and you think you already know the answer? You are hoping they will look you straight in the eye and tell you the truth. How do you respond when the answer is not what you expect to hear and you assume they are lying straight to your face. Before you jump to conclusions and fire them right on the spot, take a breather and reassess the situation. You ask the question again. Maybe they didn’t understand you correctly the first time. This time the answer is a little vague so you try to get as specific as you can. That’s when they tell you a bold face lie, so you think.
Here are 2 simple things you can do to resolve the situation:
- Ask them point blank. You can explain to them that you understand the situation differently. You must phrase this in a professional manner but it must be stern and direct. Notice their body language and their eye contact. If they are all over the place, you definitely need to look into this further. It might be a situation where someone else gave you the information and asked that you keep it confidential. If that is the case, always consider the source and remember there are two sides to every story. It’s important as a Manager that you don’t come right out and expose who said what. You have to be sensitive to the work environment and culture your have created.
- Call a meeting with all parties involved. If it is a situation where more than one person was involved, bring them together to discuss what occurred. It is very difficult to lie when someone in the room knows the truth.
It is critical, as a leader, you demand trust from your employees. If you can’t trust someone, they shouldn’t be part of your team. I don’t care if they are the best performer on the team. To foster trust, it’s critical you have open communication. If your team feels they can’t come to you with information or be upfront than you need to reevaluate your style. It’s important you tell your team there shouldn’t ever be any surprises. As long as you know about it, you can help resolve it. If they lie and cover up a situation they either feel they will not get your support or it’s in their DNA. The latter is what I would be more concerned about and you need to hold liars accountable. It’s your job to create an honest culture that breaths fairness. Everyone should be clear that lying will not be tolerated.
Something else to keep in mind, is that as a leader, you live in a glass house. Everything you do and say is being evaluated. You must treat people with respect in order to gain respect from others. This doesn’t mean you have to be perfect but you do need to practice what you preach. High performing teams crave accountability and that start from the top. You have to be accountable to your team and they have to be accountable to you.
If you just come right out and accuse someone of lying, and you are wrong, this will put you in a very awkward situation. I’m certain they will lose their faith in you as a leader. I can guarantee you that they won’t keep this information to themselves either. They will share the details with the team and it can certainly tarnish your reputation. When you are faced with a situation where you think one of your employees is lying, analyze the situation thoroughly, don’t jump to conclusions, get all the FACTS, and address quickly. Your employees will know if you are allowing someone to get away with unethical behavior. Don’t be tolerant of this conduct. It impacts your entire team.