Some Dumb Lies That Lousy Bosses Tell

Dumb Lies That Lousy Bosses TellHave you ever wondered about some dumb lies that lousy bosses tell to their employees? Telling the simple truth is far more productive than trying to fool your employees. That’s a fact. By its very nature, managing employees requires a certain amount of discretion. However, there’s a fine line between discretion and deception that, when crossed, creates resentment and job dissatisfaction. You have to be careful and you should avoid those dumb lies that lousy bosses tell in real life! I have selected some of these lies, along with suggested true statements that do the job much better.

“I’m paying you a competitive salary.”

Unless your employees are very stupid, the first thing they’ll do after you make this statement is hop on the Web and research average salary levels and find out what people in their position generally get paid. If it’s less than they’re making, they’ll assume that either you’re lying or (best case) uninformed.

A truth to tell instead: “I’m paying what I can afford to pay.”

“My job is to make you more successful.”

It’s always a mistake to set expectations for which you can’t really deliver the goods. If you’re secretly more concerned with your own advancement rather than in being of service to your employees, you’ll inevitably create resentment when your actions don’t match your fine words.

A truth to tell instead: “Your job is to make ME more successful.”

“We’re all one big, happy family.”

This can only be true if 1) you yourself came from a happy family, and 2) everyone else came from a similar happy family. Chances are, however, that some of your employees come from dysfunctional families, and the last thing you want is for them to bring their family dynamics into the workplace.

A truth to tell instead: “I’d like you to be happy working here.”

“We are following a five-year plan.”

OK, this one’s just silly. Take a look at your five-year plan from a couple of years ago. After you’ve stopped laughing, take a good long look at how you and your organization really make decisions and prioritize activities. In all likelihood, you’re using a three- to 18-month window, like everyone else.

A truth to tell instead: “We do our best to adapt.”

“This is a 9-to-5, salaried job.”

Yeah, and there’s a unicorn eating petunias in my garden. Let’s face it: In today’s business world, there simply ain’t no such creature as a 40-hour workweek for salaried employees. Unpaid overtime has become the norm inside most companies, and it’s absurd to pretend otherwise.

A truth to tell instead: “If you meet your goals, you get extra vacation days.”

“Employees are our most valuable asset.”

Most employees are intelligent enough to realize that most companies, including yours, have plenty of assets that they value more than their employees. This kind of platitude, rather than reassuring employees, simply convinces them that you can’t be trusted to tell them the real truth.

A truth to tell instead: “I value your contribution.”

“Your participation is entirely voluntary.”

Once again, it’s fine to say this if it’s really true, but most of the time (let’s be honest here) what you really mean is that participation is somewhere between “highly encouraged” and “absolutely mandatory.” After all, if the activity were truly voluntary, there would be no need to point it out, right?

A truth to tell instead: “I expect full participation.”

Therefore, be honest with your employees and never use those lousy lies. Don’t you agree?


This has been adapted from a post by Geoffrey James on Inc. here.


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