Blog: Management Fibs (Lies?)

Everyone has heard the now infamous, “The check is in the mail.” If someone who owed YOU money said that, would you believe it? Management tells fibs, too — below are some of my favorites.

How often have heard you someone start a sentence, “well to tell the truth …?”  Does that mean everything else said wasn’t the truth?

Startups

Entrepreneur/Founder says “I have the best web page for this in the market” but doesn’t define how he will get people to come to it.

Entrepreneur with his business plan showing his mobile App revenue forecast will have a significant part of the revenue early on from advertising, not realizing most likely he will need a large customer and fan base before advertisers take her seriously.

Investors guaranteeing, they will be there for a next round of cash if it’s needed, but not adding to the sentence as long as the agreement terms are meet.

The president tells you, “I can always get an accounts receivable loan.” This is generally followed by, “I can go to the bank if I need money.” Obviously he never figured out that banks only lend you money when you don’t need it.

Marketing/Sales

The sales manager, when sales are low, can be heard to say, “I will pack a suitcase and go on the road until I get bookings.” This sounds dramatic and committed, doesn’t it? However, weeks later, the situation has worsened and his suitcase is still collecting dust.

The marketing manager, on the other hand, might tell you, “Our pricing formula guarantees a twenty percent pretax profit.” I’ve always wondered what happens to that elusive seventeen or eighteen percent, because more often than not, the actual profits are two or three percent. How often does anyone ever make twenty percent pretax?

Ever heard this one? The salesman says, “If we don’t lower our prices we will go out of business!” More than once I’ve been told this, but even several months after we held absolutely firm on prices and no salesman ever produced a report on the business lost as a result.

Or this one? The salesman says, “We got this job even though we were the highest bidder.” Believe this and you probably also believe “I’m the only one that was given the competitor’s prices.” I cringe when I hear this because the salesman probably believes it himself.

CEO

When he turns the company down for a loan the CEO will hear the bank’s loan manager say, “I thought we had a good case here, and I really went to bat for you, but the guy downtown turned it down.” I am still waiting to meet that guy downtown. Personally, I doubt he even exists.

A CEO is raising money telling everyone. “I have investors beating down my door” or “I always have someone ready to put up $2 million. I just have to let them know when”.

The CEO says to the head of a company being acquired, “Don’t worry! Things will be the same as they have always been. I want you to run the company as always.” Yea.

The management staff is being questioned by directors, and responds with, “You don’t understand my area.” or “You don’t understand my market.” In their minds, this solves the problem and ends the conversation. Ironically, the bad results the manager presented make it clear that it is he himself who doesn’t understand the market.

A board member recommends that the management staffer call someone for help. The reply, “I tried several times to reach Joe.” What he forgot to mention was that he called at lunch, or at the very end of the day (as if he really wanted to talk to Joe, right?). Finally, when things are bleak and the situation needs some creative solutions, it’s the guys who got the company into a bad the situation who will tell you “Trust me.” Be wary of anyone who says that.

Personnel

The employing manager says to the candidate for a key position, “Don’t worry. Join the company and within 30 days we’ll work out a bonus plan and tie up any loose ends.” Promises, promises. There are at least three companies where I’m still waiting on that plan. Candidates have to realize that they have their best leverage before the agreement, because it only goes down from there.

Engineering

Sometimes you’ll hear the engineering manager say, “Trust me. The project will be completed on time and within budget.” However, left to him, it would never be done. You could even double the engineer’s estimate of the time and cost for a project, and it would still come out late and over budget. It seems like engineers can spent 95% of the time Doing the last 5% of the design.

Quality Control

And this one from the quality engineer: “We don’t have a quality problem. It’s the customer’s system.” Often, this is said before the quality engineer has gathered enough facts to realize that the product was delivered DOA at the customer’s site.

Implied Lies

Be wary of the implied lies in answers from subordinates to questions from personnel above them in the organization. The same question might very well receive multiple answers, depending on who’s asking. A worker on the line will give different answers to the president, their immediate boss, the engineer from a different department, the quality engineer, and their fellow workers.

When they are having quality control and yield problems, Presidents have been known to say to the board, “I will stop the line if necessary,” when in reality, everything that is not tied down or breathing will be shipped for revenue.

“I don’t care if our salesmen make millions on a commission, than my salary.  I would welcome it. After all, the company benefits from it, too.” says the president. And then, at the first hint of a “bluebird,” the word processor is directed to change a number or two in the salesman’s compensation plan . . .

The company is rapidly outgrowing the president, and he says, “I’ll know when it’s time to step aside.” Right! With that comfortable salary, the retirement program, and the thrill of control, why quit voluntarily?

The president tells you, “I can fund my growth from my profits.” What he doesn’t realize is that the more successful the company gets, the more cash it requires.

Finally, here’s the one that has deprived me of the most sleep over the years.

The program managers and engineering personnel are missing major milestones, and they’ll tell you “Don’t worry!” I really hate that. I never did understand how a delay to meet the next major milestone can be longer than the total program time planned.

Or worse yet, the cutesy version: “No need to worry!” Then, for sure, I worry. And I can’t sleep at night.

What you hear isn’t always what you get?