Maybe George Washington couldn't tell a lie, but that probably doesn’t hold true for your employees. The average person tells approximately four fibs a day, and not all of them along the order of “yes, those pants look quite flattering on you.”
When employees lie, it's a serious matter. But sometimes a little dishonesty can be helpful to your business.
Charalambos Vlachoutsicos, an adjunct professor at Athens University of Economics and Business in Greece and a former businessman, writes about his experience lying to a superior in a blog post for the Harvard Business Review.
“One company I worked in while studying for an MBA at Harvard was an electric appliance wholesaler managed by its founder autocratically and whimsically,” says Vlachoutsicos. The bottom-line driven business owner purportedly ruled with an iron fist, demanding “sales now, no matter how” from his employees, who worked on commission.
Vlachoutsicos admits the competitive--and frequently dishonest--atmosphere that this policy created did not sit well with him. “Fairness has always been the cornerstone of my value system. So although I was selling aggressively, I was always emphasizing ‘honest’ sales… sales not obtained under false pretenses.”
So after attempting to curtail dishonest practices like claiming the company’s vacuums were the fastest on the market (when they weren’t) to no avail, Vlachoutsicos decided to tell a lie.
He called a meeting with his boss, and explained that one of the company’s biggest customers had called to protest after being “lied to” about the features of one of their products. This wasn’t true. No one had complained. But Vlachoutsicos felt that the company’s false advertising policy would backfire--and that they would lose business because of it. Read complete Inc.com article.