This is something we have all done at some or another point of time in our lives –lying. Who is a person, other than an infant, who has never told a lie all their lives? At the workplace, whether to tell a lie or not poses a very serious dilemma in some delicate situations. Even when lying becomes absolutely necessary, it is always a spot of bother, because telling a lie to escape the harshness of a situation is likely to embarrass or belittle us in the eye of a colleague who knows the truth of that situation. Yet, let us accept for the time being that telling occasional white lies is part of life at the workplace.
Habitual liars are different
A more difficult situation for HR is when it has to deal with habitual liars. Habitual liars pose a very difficult problem for HR because they are usually so adept at this art that it is difficult to say when they are lying and when they are telling the truth. This makes the job of dealing with them all the more tricky, because no office is expected to keep lie-detectors!
Test the employee consistently
What does HR do in dealing with such habitual liars? As we saw, it is not going to be as easy as setting up a trap and catching the liar red-handed. Yet, catching a liar with his pants down is the only serious and effective way of finding out the truth. Having said this, it is important to understand that a one-off, isolated event should not be the determinant in deciding what to do with such an employee.
HR has to watchfully observe such a person’s attitudes and ways of communicating with colleagues during and outside of work. Some people have the habit of lying in order to elicit information from others about a particular work or matter. Some others have the habit of lying in anticipation of a danger, from which they would want to save their skins. Yet others lie simply for the fun of it. When it comes to employees who keep lying habitually, HR has to work with their other colleagues and elicit their cooperation and help.
Find out the reason
When such an employee repeatedly fails the test of truthfulness at the workplace; HR has to summon that employee and ask for an explanation. This should ideally be done in consultation with that colleague’s manager. The reason for lying should be ascertained. Once this is done, the appropriate response should follow.
If the colleague has developed a habit of lying as a result of deep-rooted negative influences in life, especially in one’s early life; counseling has to be advised. This will help understand the reasons for this behavior and some rectification could follow.
Deal firmly where needed
If it becomes clear that the habitual liar has a habit of lying without any apparent reason, the action has to be severe, because the employee is a big deterrent to honest employees. Stringent action has to be taken after all choices have been exhausted, and in collaboration with the manager.
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