3 white lies managers tell you all the time

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Jun 04

Management is a tough practice. There is guiding the work of their employees while at the same time balancing the needs of the rest of company management. It puts management into a tough position — to know what is happening in the company without divulging confidential information to employees. Thus, white lies are created to resolve this management conundrum.

Here are my three white lies managers tell you all the time:

Anything with layoffs

Everything from there won’t be any more layoffs to there will be more layoffs. The truth of the matter is that no one can predict the business well enough to determine if there will be more layoffs — or not. With what companies are practicing today, even great financial results can result in large layoffs.

When a manager tells you that “I am not aware of any more layoffs coming,” that tells you your manager hasn’t been told of any more layoffs, but that doesn’t mean more aren’t coming.

Layoffs, understandably, are sensitive to employees. So as to not specifically say something that will or will not happen in the future — and cause lawsuits — management creates white lies.

Your performance review is an objective evaluation of your work

The appropriate commentary here is the “Definition of Statistics: The science of producing unreliable facts from reliable figures.” (Evan Esar). Even though performance reviews are supposed to be objective, the fact is they are not. Humans are far too social to not have emotions and social interactions affect the perception of your job performance.

Yet, companies and managers go to great lengths to produce objective performance reviews, even though they are not 100% objective. It is one reason we teach you how to write your own self-review to submit to your manager in How to write your performance review — it presents our “unreliable facts from reliable figures.” And help influence the performance review rating.

Things won’t change after a reorganization

Same department structure. Same department objectives. Things won’t change. Well, why did the management change, then, if things were so great with the previous manager?

Any time managers change — your manager, your manager’s manager or your senior executive — things will change. If nothing else, expectations will change about how your work is done, even if you have the same department structure and same objectives.

Part of becoming a Cubicle Warrior is understanding that changes will happen and to determine what will change so you can adjust your work to the changes.

White lies are meant to cushion blows or provide a way to offer up some gray areas on difficult and emotional subjects to employees.

But that doesn’t mean you have to believe the white lies; instead, recognize them for what they are: lies.

What other white lies do managers tell you all the time?