Employers expect employees to be honest during recruitment, but they are often not honest themselves.
When I run the resilient leader workshop, I give an exercise to the group to write a job advertisement for Shackleton's Endurance expedition. As you can imagine, it is all wonderful and rosy. They write things like, "Once in a lifetime opportunity", "Join us and change your life", "Be part of something bigger", and "Join a group of enthusiastic people".
It goes on... I have to give it to them they are incredibly creative. But then I ask them, what is the reality of that expedition and why they feel they had to use such optimistic, motivating, and misleading words? Why play on people's emotions and opportunities when they have yet to learn about the future or the job?
Then I show them the original advertisement of Shackleton (picture), and they just quietly smile.
We have been trained well on how to make things look better than they actually are but it is backfiring. Being honest in job advertisements is important because the truth comes out rather quickly. I have seen examples of "Come and join a fantastic team" while I knew that the team was dysfunctional and the leader toxic. They could have just said, "Come and join us". But no, we have been trained to write fantastic slogans that sound good but often are far from reality.
When the employee joins, the disparity between the promise and the reality will surface immediately, and there you have the first reason people leave your organisation.
So keep it real and do not promise things that aren't present. The same applies during the interview process. If you have challenges, present them in a way that doesn't frighten the candidate away but rather prepares for what is to come if they join. It is honest, and people will appreciate it. They will also have the opportunity to decide whether it is for them, so we don't waste valuable time and resources.
I prefer to be told, "Look, we are at the stage where we realise that a complete change in direction is needed to succeed. Until now, we focused on scaling the business and very little on employees or processes. Now we would like to address this, and as with all change, it will be an interesting ride with all its uncertainty and challenges."
Honesty is always the best way forward and the foundation of resilience. Lies and misleading is the enemy of resilience for both employees and leaders.
Read more corporate lies in The Corporate Kindergarten: