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If You’re Going To Lie To Your Employees, Tell Better Lies or Hire Stupider Employees

May 4, 2017

I knew he was lying. I’m pretty sure he knew I knew he was lying. What I couldn’t figure out was exactly why he was lying.

I had four call centers across the United States. One in Salt Lake City and three other ones in various time zones. Our offices were on the fourth floor of our Salt Lake City center. “Us” included me, the other members of my team, my manager and his manager. The other members of my team were assigned to different accounts. Those accounts also had call centers across the US and around the world. However, other than the fourth floor, everyone else in our building worked on my account. Even half the fourth floor was devoted to my account managers, schedulers and the Vice President responsible for my account.

They announced that our team was going to be moving to a new building across town. We would be joining the executives for our company in a building in South Salt Lake. In many ways, this new building was an improvement for me. It was closer by about 20 minutes to my house in Pleasant Grove. Also, it was within walking distance of the train station, so I could skip taking my car.

But, despite the advantages, the drawbacks were even bigger. After the move was announced, I requested that I get to remain in our old building.

Why would you want to do that?

Well, all of my agents are here.

Not all of them, right? You have three other call centers too. You can’t be onsite at those other three, so I don’t see how you need to be onsite here.

His comment made no sense. “You can’t be everywhere, so we won’t let you be anywhere.” Huh? I, enlisted the lobbying efforts of the client, who wanted me within walking distance of the production floor if there was an outage. I talked to senior management that was staying in building. He didn’t want to interfere with the decisions of his team managers, a position I certainly respect, but he did offer me a desk for the times I would be back in the building.

I thought I had a winning argument when I talked to the account managers.

As the IT representative, they rely on me to resolve IT issues in the building.

Well, you need to teach them to go directly to the engineering teams themeselves. They shouldn’t be relying on you to be that interface.

Even though I’m the designated IT interface?

Uh. . .yeah.

It made no sense. Eventually, I quit trying to figure out the logic of it. There was none. Certain people didn’t want me in my production building and they didn’t want to tell me why they didn’t want me in the building. So, I moved. And once or twice per week, instead of taking the train to our new building in south Salt Lake, I drove to the old building. As the weeks and months wore on, it became increasingly challenging to keep that schedule. Every trip was scrutinized. Every decision to go North instead of South had to be justified. Eventually, I was told I would have to start submitting an agenda in advance describing the goals I hoped to accomplish and then submit a follow up report explaining who I’d met with and what was discussed while in the old building.

Clearly, it was a stalling tactic. An extra task to make it more onerous for me to decide to work in our production building. The truth eventually came out.

What do I tell the account managers when they ask me why I’m in South Salt Lake?

What do you mean?

I mean, how do I answer the question, “Why is it more productive here? Why shouldn’t I be working in the old building?”

Maybe he’d gotten frustrated too. Maybe he was tired of the months long tug-of-war. Whatever the reason, he blurted out in a fit of honesty,

Tell them that I don’t feel you can be trusted to put in a full day’s work if no one is paying attention.

Well, there it was. I’d suspected that was the suspicion. And it was laughable. I regularly worked nights, weekends and 8-12 hour days. Finally knowing the true objection, I was able to address it. In fact, my job situation improved dramatically just by knowing that I was no longer being lied to.

Soon, I was back in our old building fulltime working more hours than ever. By naming the issue we could build a plan around resolving concerns.

It’s a bad idea to lie to your employees. But, if you are going to lie to them, make sure you either lie well, or hire employees stupid enough to fall for the bad lies.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2017 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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