When you think about it we spend our life playing poker faces which is in a way lying. We invent a story to not hurt a colleague or just to enjoy a quiet afternoon at work. We even lie to ourselves when we procrastinate and think we are on time, until it’s just too late. Lying happens in organizations during coffee breaks, interviews, sales, internal processes....  It goes beyond borders and it seems impossible to live without those acts of bad faith. We lie while considering it with some kind of disgust.

There are acceptable and unacceptable lies and the border between those two depends on everyone sensitivity. Nonetheless, some lies can be harmful to organizations and their employees. I would like to focus on the lies & poker faces that people create when they are proved guilty or wrong. It can be challenging for a team to deal with a group member who cannot face reality or his responsibilities. This post aims to determine the possible origins of lies and open a discussion on strategies to help teams and individuals in those situations.

People lie when they make mistakes or ignore a rule that lead to an incident. Such actions can have huge repercussions. A lie to a customer can lead to a loss of customer loyalty and then a decrease in sales. Our friend internet is always there to share bad experiences. A lie in a team can impact the engagement that your employees have while destroying their trust. In the end, the efficiency of the group will be impaired and your team may never totally recover from the consequences of the lie.

The main sign that a person is lying to others or to himself are: .

As you can imagine those reactions create a sense of powerlessness and frustration in the team facing such behavior. Furthermore, it does not allow solving the initial issue or create better policies and processes because people affect gets involved. The group dynamic may face serious issues. The first step to stop making a mistake is to face your responsibilities and recognize your implication and the one of others.

Most of the time people create comforting lies in order to:

The worth thing we can do when a mistake is done in a team is to look for the ONE responsible of all this mess. Mistakes and failures never come from one person but from the incapacity of the group at a given time to see the big picture. One last person may have pressed the wrong button but a cascade of events before this final one led him there. If as a leader, an employee and a person you understand that there is not a guilty person but a group of individual who share their responsibilities in the occurrence of the incident then you will be able to learn. You will be able to unfold the actions that led to this final one. You will understand that no one can judge the executioner because he was unfortunately the one designated by cultural norms, expectations and habits to push this button. Without him you would have never find out that something was wrong. You should still be able to judge the performance and measure the impact of the incident on the team and the organization.

Next time someone makes a mistake and reacts as described before, pause. Realize that he made the broken system obvious. A good team is the one that will find a way to solve the issue without looking for a guilty person. A mistake is just another opportunity to learn. Maybe a way to help our little liars and poker players is to create an atmosphere of trust and security. I would suggest to reflect on the following thoughts

What are the challenges you face when working with a person that plays Poker Faces?

If you like, share and give this post a +1 ;) 

Decision making is a very interesting subject. It becomes even more interesting when you learn that every decision you take is biased. You may think that learning about those biases will help you avoid them, well, most of the time it won’t because they are automatic. This originates from the way our brain is wired. The human evolution was led by survival needs, where quick reactions were necessary. You can take the time to ask yourself some questions to check that your biases are not forcing you to take a "bad"decisions. This requires energy and time and may be good for big decision like: merging with another company, getting married, buying a car...

An HBR article by Robert F. Wolf counts six types of biases (http://blogs.hbr.org/2012/09/how-to-minimize-your-biases-when/). Those six biases can be summarized in the image below:

Short-stories to understand:
§  Anchoring:  You are influenced by number you see at the moment you take a decision. If I give you the price of my neighbors’ houses and then ask you to estimate the price of mine. You will use the price of my neighbor as an Anchor to estimate the price of mine.  In another situation, if I give you a random number like 10 and then ask you to give me the price of a book. I bet your guess will be close to 10Euros.
§  Framing: You need to buy a new car. You can be in two situations a car that fits your requirement but sold by a very unfriendly vendor and the same car sold by a very nice person. I bet you will buy the car to the nice person. Imagine then the consequences of framing on your daily life. You always go for the good feeling situation and marketers know it…
§  Availability heuristics: you know the story with the bread that always falls on the wrong side. It is wrong. The probability for the bread to fall on the wrong side is as high as the probability to fall on the other side. We just remember more easily the situation that made us have a strong emotional reaction.
§  Confirmation Bias: You finally took the decision to buy the new iphone and ordered it online. Chances are that you are going to look for information that proves your decision was right. The anti-iphone community could be harassing you, you will ignore it and prefer the pro-iphone community.
§  Commitment escalation: One day you go for a coffee and decide on the one that seems to be the best that day. You will return to this coffee the next time and the next one and the next one… In fact, you commit to the decision you took one day without reevaluating  your options. Maybe the coffee next door is fare better but you don’t know it! Try to spot in your life those commitments that escalated until habits and reevaluate you choice. Are they still a good ones?
§  Hindsight Bias: You learned how to use Google or to tie your shoes but you won’t remember it. It is not possible to remember when we learn something which make things harder when you want to “learn from your past failure”. How would you know that a particular action is the reason of your failure? Sometimes an external point of view such as a psychologist for a person or a consultant for an organization can help.

Even if biases are unconscious we can use this knowledge to take better decisions or help other take better ones. The following suggestions are not exhaustive. You can ask yourself questions at the six different levels as suggested in the graphic below. 

Do you know a better way to overcome Biases in decision making? Share with us in the comments!


If you want to learn more about Biases here are two links suggested by +John E. Smith

And a last one suggested by +Vanessa Gennarelli 

Thank you for your contribution!

On the 4th of September 2014 I had my first Hangout!

 +Adelheid Hörnlein invited me to talk about my post "Do not make assumptions, ask questions!" we ended up speaking about the impact of assumptions on our interaction with other. 

Here is the link to the exercises I mentioned in the talk. it is a bit different than what I explained but still have the same conclusion. http://organizationalmanagment.blogspot.de/2014/05/the-blind-men-and-elephant-conflict.html