I’ve worked for my company for three years. I started out as a junior graphic designer, then I became a senior graphic designer and for the last eight months, I’ve managed our department. Here, I manage a team of three people. I am very proud of my team and our achievements. For last few weeks though, one of my team members isn’t being a team player and it has been bothering me. It’s the little things that have piled up into a mountain of dishonesty and blatant lies. To say that I have never met a dishonest employee like Kate would be an understatement. This is my first time dealing with dishonest employees.

Kate would lie about things - such as taking credit for someone else’s work; taking sick leaves when in fact she wants to attend a concert; coming to work high as a kite and lying that it’s simply an allergic reaction to horses – which is starting to affect team productivity. The breach of trust is nothing compared to the deadlines we’re missing on a weekly basis.

Now I cannot instill honesty into this person. But, I would still like to see this as an opportunity to foster an environment of self-accountability and responsibility. Is that too much to ask? The problem is whichever way I handle the situation is going to influence and determine the eventual outcome of the harm on my team.

I agree some of the offenses Kate has committed are irrelevant. Letting her get away with the lies would be an open invitation to other employees who want to commit a sin to avoid work. So, how do you deal with dishonest employees? Help!

Dealing with dishonest employees

A dishonest employee is any employer’s worst nightmare. In a former workplace I experienced how a colleague got away with theft and embezzlement. The situation was further compounded by inefficient handling of the situation by the management. In this case, Kate needs to know that her actions and behavior are reprehensible. To start with, you need to create a predefined disciplinary process that each and every employee in the company is familiar with. Since you are not the human resources person in your company, you’re going to have to take a little help from the designated member. Explain to them what you’re dealing with so they can offer their support to you.

You need to stop enabling Kate to continue on this path. She can walk out anytime with a severance package, a glowing letter of recommendation and is free to continue this elsewhere. Soon she might become a new employer’s problem. When dealing with dishonest employees, you must remember that lack of consequences can have major repercussions.

Why should anyone follow the company rules if breaking them has no consequences? Consequently, it will damage your credibility as a leader.

Here’s what you need to do:

Implement a well-drafted, consistently enforced policy that clearly defines dishonest workplace conduct and the consequences for it;

Make sure employees are aware of the workplace policy and how it will be enforced; and

Follow the workplace policy and be consistent when you’re imposing discipline.

An employee owes its employer a common law duty of honesty. A breach of honesty is reason enough for fair dismissal. Regardless of the position, employees are expected to operate at a higher level of integrity. If you don’t have a workplace policy dealing with dishonest employees, I suggest you consider implementing it. Employers who have one such policy should review it regularly to ensure it effectively addresses the issue of dishonesty in the workplace.

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