I recently had a long conversation with a disgruntled employee.  Her primary issue was that she believed she was lied to and deceived about her job when hired.

She told me she applied for and was promised at her hiring a major creative role in a design firm.   She said her boss indicated that he selected her for the position based on her educational background and art portfolio.  She said she began work with enthusiasm and high expectations, and told me she accepted the administrative and mundane tasks she was initially assigned as par for the course for all newbies.

When it soon became clear that administrative tasks were to be her job, she confronted her boss who said she was simply mistaken.  He claimed this was the job advertised and that she had willingly accepted it.  Despite a tight job market in her field, she is now angry, job hunting and anxious to leave.  She faces each new day with little desire to contribute anything beyond the minimum.

As with so many stories I hear, I have no way of verifying this employee’s account of things.  Nor can I assess what the job ad said nor what her boss did or did not promise.  But the story does raise an important point for all managers to consider before advertising a job or making any promises to a prospective new hire.

Willfully misleading ads or promises to prospective employees are dishonest, disrespectful and will generally have negative consequences in the long run. Good managers TELL THE TRUTH.

Of course it is tempting to embellish a job advertisement just a little.  We want to attract and hire talented people with solid work habits, so we select a few well-chosen adjectives just to make the ad a little more enticing.  But a little embellishment is one thing.  A misleading ad is another.  Truth in advertising a position sets up an honest interview process during which both the employer and the job candidate can make decisions regarding fit that are in both of their interests.

For the best managers, truthfulness is likewise an “ethical imperative” when it comes to promises made either during a job interview or the extension of an offer. Accepting an offer of employment is a major commitment and most of us — even the very cynical — tend to believe that promises made when we accept a job will generally be fulfilled.

So, it is easy to see how broken promises can rapidly lead to disappointment, frustration and anger.  Broken promises quickly  damage a manager’s relationship with a new hire, sometimes permanently, and often produces a disgruntled employee whose attitude can quickly affect others.  No matter how much a good manager may wish to convince a talented applicant to join their organization, false promises are never used as a lure.

Would the young woman who shared her story have made a top-notch designer?  I have no way of knowing.  But like all of us, she simply wanted the opportunity to succeed or fail on her own. The best managers follow through on their commitments to provide all their employees with an opportunity to show what they can do.

Categories: Exercising Responsibility, Managing & Leading, Managing People, Motivating Top Performance

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