Is Your Management Style Driving Employees to Lie?

BY Kathy Crosett
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You’ve just made a big investment in a new product line. Your vice president of sales knows this product line was important to you. The same VP also assured you that several key accounts were prepared to place orders as soon as the product launched. Now, you’re hearing that these accounts have cold feet and don’t plan to purchase after all. What happened?

All too often in the corporate world, leaders are the victims of BS. Sometimes, employees feed their managers false information because they are under a deadline, says Lila MacLellan. Employees get stressed and feel they need to tell managers what they want to hear.

Adjust Deadlines

Is there a way you can fix that situation? Absolutely. John Petrocelli, a professor of psychology at Wake Forest University, points out that when there’s pressure to meet a deadline, some individuals will not invest time in researching the truth. To head off this problem, give your team members as much time as possible to check out the details of your request and get back to you. With a longer lead time, you should also check in regularly with team members and find out exactly what they’ve discovered and how they’ve done so. This verification process will cut down on their ability to BS you.

Split Up Responsibility

Another strategy is to split up responsibility for the research process. Allowing one individual to have too much power or control over information can lead to temptation. This individual may decide to cut a few corners when checking out a prospect or a competitor you’ve asked about. However, if you ask two or more people to dig into the details of a potential deal, they’ll be less likely to try to BS you.

It's easy to get frustrated and point fingers when employees don’t behave as you expect. The best way to prevent misunderstandings is to set up an environment that makes it easier for team members to succeed.