How do I stop the lying?


I have been coaching an employee on performance improvement issues (meeting deadlines / taking ownership of issue). Today I find out he has been lying to me about wanting to get better. He was caught sneeking an hour break to read a book in a hiding place nobody would ever think to look. So he has time to read, but can't meet his deadlines. How do I stop the lying?

Craig, Delaware

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Charles Helliwell's Answer:

Oh employee who bends the rules; but then this is hardly a hanging offence is it ?

Your coaching objective is on performance improvement. That's great, because every coaching and mentoring intervention should have some kind of performance improvement metric attached to it; so at least that's a positive step in the right direction.

Now let's take the emotion and invective out and assess what's going on here. Is this individual really lying to you? I suspect not.

He may well want to take ownership of something, however, the work he's currently engaged in probably isn't it. Consequently, it's going to be nigh on impossible to coach him to value his work, if he doesn't enjoy it or find it stimulating.

His hiding away to read a book for an hour strikes me as the behaviour of someone who doesn't want to do the work that's been assigned to them. This is a classic behaviour of avoidance, so coaching them to fulfill this role is frankly a waste or your time and his.

It's time for you to have a grown-up, joined-up conversation about what this individual actually wants to do in your organisation. Then and only then are you and he going to be better placed to make some positive choices to suit you both.

About our Expert

Charles Helliwell
Charles Helliwell

For almost 20 years, Charles Helliwell has been enjoying a lifestyle and making a living as a behavioural and relationship mentor specialising in the personal and professional development of individuals and teams in the workplace.