Liar Liar

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    Dishonesty is a major crisis management no-no

    Last Friday, after the sudden resignation of its CEO, the chairman of local news website network Daily Voice sent all employees an email promising good news and big changes.

    However, upon arrival Monday morning, many of the excited employees were devastated to discover that the “good news” included the fact that they were being laid off, and would be receiving no severance pay to boot.

    In an interview with’s Matt Wilson, discussing the Daily Voice situation, Jonathan Bernstein shared his opinion regarding dishonest internal communication:

    Jonathan Bernstein of Bernstein Crisis Management says the company flat-out lied to employees.

    “There is no universe in which lying to your employees is acceptable,” he says. “It only makes a bad situation worse.”

    By lying, Daily Voice further angered a group of people who were already rather upset due to losing their jobs. Instead of regretfully packing up and moving on to look for new work, ex-employees went to the press to share their story, surely taking some satisfaction in knowing that their former employer’s reputation was going to take a beating as a result.

    Do you think the next time Daily Voice is looking for some new talent there’s going to be a line of top prospects eager to apply? How about when it comes time to drum up extra funding from investors?

    Certainly not if this mess is topping the Google search results.

    There are four ways to lie:

    • Dishonesty by commission — literally saying black is white.
    • Dishonesty by omission — leaving important information out of your communications.
    • Dishonesty by understatement for the purpose of obfuscating the truth.
    • Dishonesty by overstatement for the purpose of obfuscating the truth.

    Crisis Management 101 dictates that all communications MUST be honest. If they’re not, you will eventually be found out, and your reputation, along with any credibility you may have held, will land straight in the gutter.

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]