Working in an environment where lying is the norm is toxic, and deception becoming a customary practice could signal larger unseen issues taking place at multiple levels of a company. If employees at your company have developed a culture of frequently fibbing, the cause is likely to be based on organizational issues rather than on individual personality traits. Small lies can indicate that more important misdeeds are running afoot.
Unfortunately, sometimes signs that of dishonesty can be difficult to identify. Here are the tell-tale signs that lying has become normalized at your company:
1. No one can clearly state what your company goals are.
Maybe identifying a company mission was apparent at first. But if it’s now difficult for employees to understand what they are working toward, the likelihood that they will properly execute tasks decreases. This can prompt employees to use dishonesty as a cover.
When every employee knows exactly what their role is, there is a better chance that they will be able to properly perform. When a company is clear about what they do and how they do it, there’s less room for confusion. And when people are confused, they are more likely to make mistakes that must be covered up. If your company doesn’t articulate how they are achieving their output, you may be working for a dishonest company.
2. Departments are competing against one another.
If you feel like every department is trying to outdo one another instead of working together toward a common cause, this is a sign that lying may be a problem. When everyone is trying to save themselves, they are more likely to engage in deceptive business practices in order to come out on top. This could also signal that different departments are being told different information, or are being pitted against each other.
3. Nothing gets accomplished in meetings.
When company leaders are pressured to hide certain facts from their subordinates, they are less able to provide an accurate picture of what’s happening in the company. As a result, those in charge may attempt to cover up deceptions by being vague and holding back as much information as possible. This attempt to deceive the team may result in meetings being held to maintain a sense of normalcy, but in meetings, leaders may end up talking in circles without providing clear direction.
4. Promotions seem to occur at random.
If you’ve noticed that people can’t really place how they are being evaluated, there may not be a fair system that promotes people in place. If performance evaluations have become a formality that doesn’t give you any information about how to improve, this could be a sign that the structures that should be in place to encourage exceptional work have fallen away.
If you’ve been working hard and completing additional tasks while others in your company who do noticeably less are rising through the ranks, this could be a sign of deception brewing. When people are tasked with concealing the shady doings of others, they may be unjustly compensated. Because of this, people may receive rewards not because of their hard work, but because they are allowing the morally compromised to continue flourishing.
Kayla Heisler is an essayist and Pushcart Prize-nominated poet. She is an MFA candidate at Columbia University, and her work appears in New York's Best Emerging Poets 2017 anthology.