Rule #2: “Honesty is measured by telling the boss what he/she needs to hear not by whether you keep your hand out of the cookie jar”
The vast majority of employees in the workplace can be trusted to deal honestly with money and materials (yes I know everyone has the experience of someone constantly violating the honor code of the coffee fund-I said the vast majority not everyone). It is surprising how many people feel that this is the only standard of honesty applicable.
People are fired (in some cases prosecuted) for dipping their hand into the cookie jar, so this becomes such a base expectation that it requires little thought or reinforcement. Far more important to the health of the organization is the reliance managers make on the honesty of employees in reporting issues and problems. It is impossible for the chain of command to assess the breadth and depth of problems or accurately determine corrective actions without clear, honest and complete information. Unfortunately, all to often subordinates feel compelled to minimize problems or gloss over their actions which led to the problem. Such actions destroy the very foundation of the boss subordinate relationship and sub-optimize the decision process.
Example-I was once responsible for centralization of an operation from ten sites to three. The operation was not complex but sensitive and labor intensive. In spite of frequent teleconferences and meetings, one site continuously mislead me as to the difficulty they were experiencing recruiting the required workforce (don’t worry-be happy). Once we began receiving heavy volume it was apparent that they could not meet their commitment and we were forced to transship workload to other sites. The cost to the organization in terms of direct dollars, lost opportunity costs, and customer satisfaction were substantial. Equally serious was the negative impact on the credibility of my subordinate, which strained our relationship for the balance of our tenure. Had this individual provided an honest evaluation of the problem as it arose, corrective actions could and would have been put in place at far less cost to all those involved.
Photo Attributed to Flickr user “kathycsus” according to Creative Commons License.