Honesty is the best policy, isn’t it?

honesty is the best policyI have to thank my friend for allowing me to use his story – you know who you are, here it is – I hope it’s accurate!

A few days ago, I emailed said friend as we were arranging a catch up and I asked him how his new job was going.  He’d been at his new place for a couple of weeks by my reckoning.

He answered with a tantalising ‘Which new job?  New or new new?’  When we caught up at the weekend, he elaborated a little further.  As with all jobs, promises were made at the interview – his overall job description was provided, and discussions held over where the role would be heading.  When he got to his new role he found out that the person who had interviewed him, and whom he thought he would be reporting into was leaving shortly (and had known but not mentioned this at the interview stage).  On his first day in the role he found that two areas he had been told he would be overseeing had been moved to other people.  He had been told there would be lots of hands on work.  There would not.  The role had changed significantly.  He was understandably a little unhappy about this but persevered.  A couple of weeks in and things hadn’t improved, so he thought it best to speak to his new boss to air his concerns.

His new boss, instead of assessing the situation, reassuring my friend, or attempting to find a workable solution, decided that my friend’s honestly voiced doubts and concerns demonstrated his lack of commitment to the role, and made the decision to let him go (with a relatively healthy goodbye package, to be fair).

When we caught up and started discussing this, the question my friend asked, and that has stuck with me is this – ‘Is honesty the best policy?’  Should he just have put up and shut up, or at least waited a while to voice his concerns?  My opinion then, and now, is Yes.  In this type of situation, honesty is the best policy always.  If he hadn’t said anything, this unhappy situation would have continued.  And why spend longer than necessary in a situation that is making you unhappy?

Unfortunately, I think honesty was clearly not a value embraced by the new company he joined.  They had been anything other than honest with him from the start.  They knew the role described was not going to be the role he would occupy but didn’t tell him.  They knew the boss he was being interviewed by wouldn’t be the boss he was be working for but they didn’t tell him.  They knew this might affect his decision, so they didn’t tell him.

I think he was completely right to hold on to his values and ethics, and I think it took strength of character to raise his concerns and be honest and upfront.  He was willing to make things work.  His new company was not.  Which doesn’t make for a good match.  So whether it was their choice or his, not being there any longer is also the right thin for him.

This sorry tale has a suitably festive happy ending though – he remained honest at subsequent interviews, telling prospective new employers exactly what had happened – and he has been offered a great role at a new company – the ‘new new company’ of the initial email.  All’s well that ends well.

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