Lying. We all do it. To what degree, for what purpose and how often are the only qualifiers.

Yes, owners, managers, employees and even your customers lie from time to time. Don’t believe me?

Never said to a customer waiting for a Tech, “The Tech was on their way but the truck broke down…”

Or, how about a more sophisticated lie, “I know we’re running late to your home. That’s because I had a special Tech in mind and he’s tied up right now. But if you don’t care who I send, I can get somebody over there sooner…”

It comes down to telling lies that range along the spectrum of little white lies to outright lies designed to purposely obscure the truth. And it’s hard to spot when it’s being done to you and even harder when you’re lying to yourself. It’s easy to get all too comfortable telling lies.

It happens in our personal lives. Hey, I’ve stood in front of the mirror for years and said, “I think I look pretty good” even though I was 40 pounds overweight and was wheezing every time I had to climb the stairs on a service call to check the thermostat one more time. This lie falls under a self-delusional lie.


Why do we lie?

Well, there are many reasons. But, it can boil down to a coping mechanism we develop to get us through our day. We can be perfectionists in our own minds and therefore demand nothing but perfection from ourselves and others but when we are confronted with reality and fall short we either lie to ourselves and/or find someone else to blame for it.

When the business is struggling and the numbers affirm this, we can hide the truth from ourselves by telling ourselves a lie like, “It was a warm winter. I’ll catch up in the summer.” Or you’re lying to your team for fear they’ll leave you. And that’s understandable.


Turn things around and tell the truth

The right move is to tell the truth and instead engage them in turning things around. Reality is it’s sometimes more comforting to stick our heads in the sand and pretend we don’t see than to confront an ugly truth. Failing is far from perfection. And for perfectionists not seeing it, allows them to continue to wear the cloak of perfection.

More insidious lying goes on at all types of companies from how they treat employees to how they treat customers. It all breeds the wrong culture.

Some of the worst of this is seen in large companies. WIIFM [aka What’s in It For Me] is still king at large companies. Many times managers can actually obscure vital information from the owners or outright lie to them to protect the status quo. Doesn’t matter that the “ship is about to sink” because they are clinging to the last life preserver for as long as they can no matter what the cost.

Has a Tech ever told you, “I didn’t get the after-hours call on Sunday. Must have been out of cell range.” Well, possibly. Or, was it really that his favorite team was playing and he wasn’t leaving his comfy chair.


Open book management

Owners won’t share the numbers with their staff. And I’m not preaching that the Owners must share everything with employees about the numbers. But, a lot of progressive Owners have found that adopting some form of Open Book Management and fully sharing with the team the numbers empowers the team and builds trust.

Note: Open Book Management was a phrase first coined by John Case of Inc.
Magazine who began using the term in 1993. Although, many of us Contractors know it best by the work Jack Stack has done applying this philosophy both at his company and in his books and seminars since.

Whatever your approach to sharing the numbers, I’ve observed Owners lying to their staff either about how good things are out of fear they’ll jump ship or how bad things are as a scare tactic to get them to do more and work harder.

Lying is rarely if ever a sound business practice and ultimately it’s bad karma, of which I’m a firm believer.

Find out in my next installment if customers lie and how to spot it!

In the meantime, see our Comments section below. And let us know of a time when you turned things around by using open book management at your company. We'd love to hear from you!



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Al Levi has been helping contractors solve problems and turn greater profits while making it possible for them to get their lives and free time back. To discover more, visit

And also check out Al’s latest business adventure as part of Zoom Franchise Company at .