My partner and I hired “Keith” based on a great interview and glowing references. Keith didn’t have all the skills we needed, but his attitude wowed us. He had “all the right stuff.”
We figured we could provide him the training he needed and have since invested hundreds of hours training him.
The problem: We can’t trust him. He tells white lies. Last week, I asked him where an overdue report was. He answered, “No problem, got it covered already.”
I asked him to send it to me right away. He said he would. He didn’t. I stopped by his workstation at the end of the day. He was working on it. It was only half done.
I said, “I thought you’d finished it” and he gave me a big smile and said, “No, I was working on other priorities; you’ve got me buried.”
I asked, “What did ‘got it covered’ mean?” He said, “that meant I’d work on it right away.”
I said, “I asked you to send it to me right away. You said you would. Why didn’t you say you needed to finish it first?
He said, again with a big smile, that he didn’t want to disappoint me.
My partner and I talked. We wondered if we really had buried Keith in too much work. We remembered his references. That’s when we checked them out. We discovered what we hadn’t known at the time we hired Keith, that his former supervisors were his stepdad and his mom’s brother. Keith didn’t tell us he worked for a family business when he gave us his supervisors’ names as references.
We can’t afford to take the time to hire and train someone new. What do we do?
Keith tells you what he thinks you want to hear and what gets him what he wants. He covers his half-truths with a smile.
Lying either comes easily to him, or he’s desperately trying to stay afloat in a job for which he lacks the essential experience and bandwidth.
You have two options.
You can have a heart-to-heart conversation with Keith and find out why he shades the truth. If he says he does so to hang on to his job, and convinces you that you are burying him, let him know you expect truthful answers. Let him know he has one last chance, and another “cover up” answer will lead to his termination.
Alternatively, you can admit you hired the wrong person. Keith does NOT have the “right stuff,” not if integrity matters to you. Although you’ve invested time and effort in him, and worry about the time it may take to hire and train a new person, can you afford to employ someone you can’t trust?
© 2020, Lynne Curry
Lynne Curry, Ph.D., SPHR, is the author of “Beating the Workplace Bully” (AMACOM, 2016, https://amzn.to/30V5JO6) and “Solutions”, https://amzn.to/2GYlnAN (both books are rated 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com). Send your questions to her at https://workplacecoachblog.com/ask-a-coach/ or follow her on twitter @lynnecurry10. www.workplacecoachblog.com.