I have been managing a small team of engineers for some months and one of the employees is being very difficult to deal with. This difficulty has been confirmed by both HR and his manager before me.

I had multiple talks with the employee about mainly behavioral issues: lack of teamwork, going with his own plan, performance lower than expected, not owning up to his mistakes, forgetting to fill timesheets, etc.

Since I gave him feedback, he started improving, and I hope that he will keep it up so that he can meet the expectations. I'm trying to stay as positive as possible, since HR and his previous manager warned me that this could be a temporary improvement effort.

But the main issue that bothers me is about lying. I have the strong feeling that he is constantly lying to me (without even the need for it).

Some lies are easy to prove, and I have already addressed them with him.

But unfortunately there are many other lies that are very hard to prove, hence the "feeling". He always says something vague such that at a later time he can always deny with "I didn't mean that". Indeed, HR (again) warned me that he knows how to use his words, and that he can be deceitful in order to meet his own agenda (HR's words, not mine).

And unfortunately this is also what I have experienced with him. I gave him the benefit of the doubt multiple times, but now it is honestly enough.

My question is then: how should I address this with him in our next one-on-one meeting?

Perhaps I did a mistake somewhere, and I want to correct that. To this aim, I asked him many times to give me feedback, and I've also recently added this as part of his targets (in agreement with him). But so far, nothing happened about this.

To add some context:

I am in a country where it is very difficult to fire somebody, and it is quite a hassle to go through this process. The company is small, there is a lack of engineers in the area, and technically he is quite good.

Therefore, together with the fact that he is coming from a different country with quite some cultural and work differences, he has been given the benefit of the doubt.

To clarify the "vague" lies with an example: he said that he didn't notice one "thing", but I don't agree with this since it is extremely difficult to miss this "thing" for different reasons. The problem here is to prove that "extremely difficult" equals to "impossible". If this is not possible, the vagueness arises.

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    How does the possible lying affect his work and his professional relationship with the team?
    – jcm
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 7:36
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    If you've already engaged with HR, ask them for guidance. Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 7:45
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    @jcm I've noticed from daily interactions that (a part of) the team is also having "trust issues" with him. I've also spoken privately to some team members, and although they wanted to be polite/professional, they indirectly made me understand that they are feeling in the same way as me.
    – HBv6
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 8:42
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    "He always says something vague" - at which point it's your job as manager to ask him to be more specific. Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 12:33
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    What is confusing are all these warnings about him you received from HR. Why isn't HR doing anything about him? Normally, people shouldn't last long if they left such a negative impression with HR. Are you somewhere where people can't be let go in practice?
    – user29390
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 13:17

13 Answers 13


You're describing me enough that I was initially worried that you were my own supervisor.

(I'm convinced it's a personality disorder on my part. It has been a useful trait to have in my career-- when you literally investigate liars for a living, it helps to be one enough to know how they think and operate. I've had to adopt a very strict ethical code for myself to avoid the very trust issues you're facing.)


There is an inherent power imbalance between technical personnel (like engineers) and non-technical management. You two likely do not speak the same technical/professional language. Stop accepting his "foreign" words as the truth-- you do not understand his domain well enough to call him out on lies (hence your frustration). This is a relationship of trust...but you report that nobody in the company actually trusts him. You literally have an insider threat on your hands.

You're not going to be able to negotiate with him. You need to out-manipulate him.

From what you report, you lack two things in dealing with this guy-- boundaries and transparency.


Lack of transparency can be addressed through triangulation. You are at a disadvantage in individual/1:1 meetings or correspondence. Stop dealing with him in private environments.

Seek a second opinion for everything he claims, inviting technically-competent witnesses (ideally more-qualified than him, but not his direct colleagues/friends) to your discussions wherever possible.

Smoke him out. If every engineering discussion takes place in the open and everything he says is subject to cross-examination, he no longer has an environment of secrecy to hide his shortcomings or incompetence under. Thin excuses (or outright lies) will be skewered mercilessly and publicly by more-informed parties, sparing you the trouble of doing so yourself, exposing his behavior, and alleviating your anxiety of feeling like he's leading you on constantly but not knowing what to do about it.


He always says something vague such that at a later time he can always deny with "I didn't mean that".

Vagaries are the #1 sign of a con-artist. Nobody is ever able to get ahead of them because everybody hears a different interpretation, and they can play any side of the fence they need to when someone tries to hold them accountable.

That you have an engineer who deals in vagaries should be troubling in its own right-- given the nature of their profession, most engineers are painfully explicit.

Stop letting him define your expectations-- even better, stop letting him say anything at all. Liars only have any power and are only effective when there are victims willing to listen.

  • Put him on some sort of probation.
  • Start telling him "do ___ by ___, and if you fail, ___ is the consequence."
  • Do not accept excuses-- adopt a zero-tolerance policy from here on out.
  • Minimize your contact with him altogether unless he needs clarifications about specs.

Run your department like a military operation-- you say "build a bridge," a bridge that meets spec gets built (however ugly) through any means necessary. "But we're being shot at" is not an excuse-- "...then I'll find someone who will" should be your only response. If this guy can socially-engineer everyone in the company, he should be expected to perform the actual engineering work he was hired to do, which includes accounting for technical hurdles without complaint.

If you don't have the guts to give orders and stand by them, give your orders--in written form--through a proxy, to both secure a witness and deny him opportunity to gaslight everyone about your expectations.

When he fails, re-assign the task to a colleague. Do not change expectations or specifications (you'll open yourself to bias accusations). Assuming the task was reasonable to begin with, they will usually get the job done, which supports a case for deceit/incompetence.

You need to back him into a corner where his actions will speak louder than his words. This is made easier when you are unavailable for him to complain to or confuse. You think his performance is bad now, but you've mentally associated his excuses with his perceived failures. Once you stop fielding his excuses, the true extent of his incompetence will surface (and be so much worse than you expected), which makes a good case for termination proceedings.

Best of luck to you.

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    Sometimes I am painfully explicit only to find that people tuned out half way through and missed the point of whatever I was trying to say... Usually when they see XYZ weird thing that I tried to warn them about happen in prod and freak out. Commented Aug 12, 2021 at 16:04
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    Your analysis of the situation impressed me. By any chance, do you run a blog or a podcast about the work that you do?
    – Alpha
    Commented Aug 14, 2021 at 12:01
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    @Alpha Thanks! While I enjoy it, I don't often write about my work because of the potential for it to simply become a how-to guide (many breakthroughs depend on mistakes made by amateurs). The world doesn't need a better-trained generation of malicious actors playing at theocratic warfare and spycraft.
    – Ivan
    Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 21:06

"He always says something vague such that at a later time he can always deny with "I didn't mean that". "

You shouldn't tell him that you think he's lying, just say that there have been some misunderstandings and that you want to work on the communication. Then move towards written communication (via e-mail and not a chat program that only has a memory of two weeks) and if you receive an ambiguous message from him, answer with an accurate version of it to make sure that you both talk about the same thing.

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    I think it's important to add that when you talk to your employee about misunderstandings, you can give some concrete examples, so write down some instances of this behavior when you encounter it so you have something to back up what you mean.
    – Jeroen
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 12:01
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    To add to this, sometimes you might need to try to get a yes/no answer. Based on what I've read he would probably try to still give a vague answer so the trick is learning how to phrase questions in such a way that giving a vague answer is clearly the wrong option. Commented Aug 12, 2021 at 8:50
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    Furthermore: after spoken communications where there could be ambiguity, write your understanding in an email to confirm. “For that avoidance of doubt, we have agreed that...”. This unfortunately could be time-consuming than that extra time is on you, but it removes ambiguity later and in the case of genuine misunderstanding he has opportunity to correct this before it causes a problem later. Commented Aug 12, 2021 at 16:05
  • @Parrotmaster any tips on "phrase questions in such a way that giving a vague answer is clearly the wrong option"? Or any examples?
    – HBv6
    Commented Aug 13, 2021 at 8:04
  • I think I'll go with this, but I want to think about it a bit more. Indeed, I've noticed that it helps sharing WRITTEN meeting minutes/agreements with him. However, I've also noticed that whenever I miss to write something, he immediately takes advantage. Example: we agreed that he would write 1 slide, but I forgot to write it in the minutes, so he came to me with 10 slides. In conclusion: writing things down seems to help, but it is quite time consuming on my side. What is the "line" here? At what point I should stop "babysitting" and make him accountable for non-written agreements?
    – HBv6
    Commented Aug 13, 2021 at 9:31

I gave him the benefit of the doubt multiple times, but now it is honestly enough.

My question is then: how to address this with him in our next 1:1?

Be direct.

Tell him what he is doing that bothers you. Give him specific examples. Tell him that if this doesn't change, he will no longer be able to work for you. And give him a deadline.

Then follow through.

Praise any improvements you see. If he is making progress then encourage him to keep improving.

But if he is not improving, or not bothering to try, get rid of him.

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    "Tell him what he is doing that bothers you. Give him specific examples. Tell him that if this doesn't change, he will no longer be able to work for you. And give him a deadline." This sounds an awful lot like a Performance Improvement Plan.
    – aleppke
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 17:58
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    @aleppke To be honest, this is true for every employee. Direct communication, deadlines, etc. Most people just expect them. There are things that make you unemployable and lying is one of them. Fix it or find yourself unemployed. I can handle incompetence, but not malfeasance.
    – corsiKa
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 22:14
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    In the edit, OP explains that it's difficult to fire someone. If the troublesome employee knows he has some leverage in that regard, how can you obtain compliance without threatening that "he will no longer be able to work for you"?
    – erickson
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 15:44
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    @aleppke, even those many places use Performance Improvement Plans as an excuse to boot someone they don't like, PIPs used correctly can have a meaningful role. It would actually be nice to see PIPs used correctly more often, so the idea of a PIP isn't a "red flag" to literally both employees and employers during the hiring process. Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 20:58
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    Having written a PIP or two in my career, I'd argue they are valuable tools. I've seen employees survive a Performance Improvement Plan because they finally understood - clearly - the consequences of poor behavior or performance. From a legal perspective, the PIP is useful in court should the ousted employee say they were treated unfairly. A PIP might also motivate a poorly performing employee to leave on their own WITHOUT having to work the firing machinery. I don't think a PIP needs to be exposed... it's work product. But a firing is something the employee carries. Commented Aug 12, 2021 at 2:08

Dispose of this employee.

I am not a fan of firing people or letting them go without giving them a chance, but the warning signs here are absolute screamers. They will always be a liability.

Let us say they seem to improve. How can you (or your team) trust that this is true ? Heck, even HR warned you to expect such deceit. None of you will ever be able to have trust in what this person says. Will the next thing they promise/say/agree to do/tell you be true or false ? They have an established record as a untrustworthy employee. They could let you and your team down at any time, and do it deliberately.

The effect on your other staff could be catastrophic. There is no way to know what this person may do or say to manipulate things. I have seen people like this operate and they cause enormous friction and stress for everyone who has to deal with them. There is typically no upside.

Keeping them is like holding on to a ticking bomb because it stopped ticking and hoping it won't explode.

You need to engage with HR to seek the best way to remove this problem permanently from the company. Firing or redundancy or not renewing a contract - whatever is needed.

It is beyond my comprehension why your HR people have not already done this. I suspect there are other issues here which you may not be aware of. Perhaps some legal obligation regarding employment law - we don't know.

In any case the risk this employee represents is too great. Dispose of this bomb ASAP. Start discussing this option with HR.

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    You are right, it is quite an hassle to go through the firing process here. The benefit of the doubt was given since he is coming from a different country, and because there is a lack of engineers in this area. Also, he is technically quite good, and the "only" (big) problem is the attitude.
    – HBv6
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 8:59
  • @HBv6 "he is technically quite good" IF he does the job. :-) Does he do the job?
    – Pablo H
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 16:07
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    @HBv6 IMO the damage someone like this does to team morale is usually such a big downside that anything short of Einstein levels of brilliance is not enough. But I'd probably dump Einstein too if he didn't get a haircut. Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 16:12
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    @StephenG Einstein would get to keep his hair. Higher ups would just make you shave off all of yours to make up for him keeping his.
    – HenryM
    Commented Aug 12, 2021 at 21:56
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    I do not know which country OP is in, but I have witnessed cases in my company where we tried to get rid of employees which literally have not worked a useful minute within years (!). In my country, you simply can not fire someone unless you can prove that they did something wrong, and in this particular case, the person was/is incredibly good at walking the line just so that he was utterly unusable, but had not a speck of "dirt" on him. (Lawyers were involved on both side). After 5+ years, he is still on the roster...
    – AnoE
    Commented Aug 13, 2021 at 7:16

I have experience with a situation that seems very similar so I will give my two cents on one aspect I think is the most crucial element.

The lying. I am somewhat technically proficient so what you are onto, you feel like they are lying to you, is something I can confirm is probably the case. I have witnessed a co-worker implement this same type of manipulative behavior. A few scenarios that might prove elucidative.

  • Individual will obviously not understand what is being discussed/problem trying to be solved but as a solution is developed through conversation with this person they try to regurgitate the conclusion as though they came up with it and knew it all along.
  • Individual will use excuses on how they don't have time to provide adequate ticket details to the tasks that get created because they give some hyperbolic description that no one is asking for, "I'm not going to spend time filling out a million details for each action and tell developers exactly what to do, who has time for that" when really all that is being asked for is more than "Go talk to this person for details". In reality, it just seems like they don't really understand the implications of the actions being created at times but they still act like they do.
  • Individual is actually technically proficient but the problem is that they will not admit when they don't know/understand something. My guess of this is that they have largely been incompetent but over time they are able to accumulate very specific/critical knowledge to cover the main concepts but they still try to rely on misdirection with vagaries to cover just how much they don't know. Whereas a normal person would just say "I don't know, I would need to look into that."
  • I think this methodology of getting people 1 on 1 is exactly how they exploit the situation. They take advantage of people's good will and assumed benevolence. Furthermore, whether it just be their normal demeanor or part of the obfuscation, they employ a very gregarious persona that makes it difficult to get to "real talk" with them on an issue.
  • After working with this individual (they were "reviewing" my code to "improve" it), it became extremely obvious that after about 2-3 hours that they had no idea what they were doing with the particular API and in the end there was no issue with it and my implementation was fairly optimal. That didn't stop the atmosphere of this meeting being their assumed superiority and every time he thought he found a way to "improve" my code it would be presented as though it were obvious. The sad thing was that every thing they proposed didn't work but they would just move on like nothing happened.

As a summary of what I am getting at, it is completely fine if someone doesn't know something. It is another issue when their default course of action is to protect their ego or perceived (by themselves or the group as a whole) superiority by extensively relying on dishonesty.

So how to solve this 1 on 1? I am skeptical that is really an option. I assume that would probably turn into is them just being more careful but still relying on the same strategy of deception. If I were a company owner and I had an employee like this under me I would start gathering evidence to build a case to have them terminated, I despise dishonesty. There are already other people that can attest to his behavior so leveraging that and your own experience as manager seems like a good approach. It seems very likely that this behavior is causing more problems than are immediately apparent.

  • Are we working with the same colleague? Because you absolutely nailed it! As you said, perhaps I should put more emphasis on solving some issues "as a team" rather than during the 1:1. Thanks for the tip!
    – HBv6
    Commented Aug 13, 2021 at 8:03

Interestingly, lying is far more stressful than telling the truth. A far larger portion of the brain is activated, as you are not simply remembering/relating, but actively and continually creating a story, picking from multiple options while attempting to remember everything said so far as well as speculation on what other knowledge the other person may have access to.

Use that. Politely "grill" your employee, asking for additional details, perhaps milestones, resource requirements, approaches, etc. The more details he makes up, the more committed he becomes, the more lies he has to juggle, and the farther his neck is stuck out, therefore the more stress he's under. Pick at anything that seems contradictory or doesn't make sense immediately. Once the conversation is over, send him an email summarizing his statements and commitments for him to verify.

If he's not a "compulsive" liar (diagnosis of which is likely beyond most of us) he'll eventually learn that lying to you takes a lot out of him, as well as exposing him to further risk.

If you've caught him in a lie, but he doesn't know it yet, string him along in a gentle, friendly fashion until he starts to (metaphorically) sweat visibly. Then drop the bombshell and the judgement/repercussions. Let him know he made it way worse by lying to you. After a few of those, he'll be wondering every time he lies whether you're already on to him, increasing the stress penalty of lying going forward.

  • Deliberately causing an employee stress is a rather dodgy tactic, which could potentially misfire.
    – MikeB
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 9:32
  • The beauty of it is that you're not causing the stress--it's a byproduct of the lying. As long as they tell the truth, it's just a friendly conversation. Commented Aug 13, 2021 at 15:56

how to address this with him in our next 1:1?


This is our last 1:1. You are fired. Security will accompany while you retrieve your personal belongings from your desk.

I can't fathom continuing to employ a person that habitually lies and no one on the team trusts. It's time for him to go.

Based on your comment that firing him is difficult in your country, my answer doesn't change. Start the process. Begin documenting every single thing you can. Let him know about all of this. It may light a fire under him and he'll improve, or he may quit.

  • 2
    This is not possible. In order to fire somebody in this country you would need objective and demonstrable proof of "cause". It is quite a hassle to go through the firing process. What usually happens is that the employer and the employee both agree on the employee resigning and getting paid for X months (without doing anything). The company is small and it does not have a lot of funds, so I'm afraid that the only option is to go through the firing process (which, again, is quite strict).
    – HBv6
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 8:56
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    @DanielR.Collins Derp. Thanks
    – Kevin
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 13:03
  • @HBv6 check my edit
    – Kevin
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 13:29
  • 2
    How is lying in a way that sabotages the work being done not "cause"? Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 18:58
  • 1
    @R..GitHubSTOPHELPINGICE The key is objective and demonstrable proof of "cause" -- proving lying, when it involved ambiguous statements that weren't recorded, can be a real challenge. Commented Aug 12, 2021 at 17:49

Why is he lying? Is he demotivated or is he afraid that his skills do not match the work requirements? You wrote that technically he is quite good, but technical work nowadays is so specialised that even technically prepared people might lack some specific skills. To find it out you could ask him to explain his tasks to a junior employee or ask him to write some technical documentation. Finding out whether he is demotivated and why would be a lot more difficult, but in any case getting him to describe what he's doing can be a starting point.

  • I don't think he is afraid that his skills don't match the job since he wanted to be regarded as technical lead, but unfortunately he is definitely not ready for it and this demotivated him. He is good technically but not at a lead level, and his soft/behavioral skills (which are very important in our context) are subpar. I recently started a process/plan to get him there and I noticed a different work attitude and an increased motivation. However, his lying/sneaky attitude never improved.
    – HBv6
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 15:51
  • @HBv6 If you don't know what questions to ask to find out his reason try and ask broad questions that require a long answer and a lot of details.
    – FluidCode
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 15:54

The way it works with most people is you assume the "burden of proof" that the other person is lying. It feels harsh, but you need to put the burden on your employee to prove that he is telling the truth.

That means when there is room for doubt, just say, "It's possible you're telling the truth this time, but because of your history, I don't believe you." And act accordingly. Don't ask him questions that you can't verify the answer to. Don't put him in situations where trust is required for him to be successful, and certainly don't put him in situations where dishonesty can damage the company. Give him assignments that are easy to double check at small intervals.

Don't labor under the illusion that you'll be able to stop the lying. If you aren't willing or able to fire him, the best you can realistically hope for is containing the damage.


I'm a little disappointed about the answers. Perhaps you too, because you search for a solution other than "hold a pistol to his head". But most answers are this way. It's like the way people deal with misbehavior of children: thread and punishment.

Children lie because they are afraid and so do adults, because this strategy was learned as child! Specially if it is by being vague.

I'm this way sometimes. I would say I am really honest (and perhaps this guy thinks so of himself), because I never really lie, I'm being vague or I don't speak about something if I have a problem with telling the truth, but I don’t lie, never! And mostly for me this problem is fear of confrontation (the other may be angry if they know) or some sort of shame (if I’m wrong, what would they think about me?).

If I'm right with your feeling: you want to improve the relationship with him and not to fire him (because it is difficult - and I know what that means, it is also in my country). Then you may search for Rosenberg and "Nonviolent Communication" (Rosenberg said that this is a bad name for his techniques, because people think you’re not allowed to be angry, but you can show that you are angry or concerned or irritated…). It is better if you are not angry at the 1:1, but you may speak about it.

To get to know why this is irritating/frustrating you, you can ask of situations in your life that are similar and let your feeling of powerlessness tell you your story AND LISTEN. This may help you to cool down (if necessary).

I think, you should address this behavior directly, but you have to get yourself to the point that you internally really want to listen what he has to tell you. Make the first step yourself showing that you are vulnerable (for this subject you can search for Brené Brown and her TED-Talk). If you are expecting him to say "yes, I'm sorry, you are right and I'm wrong" then this is not the right mind-set.

Tell him about your concerns, your worries. I heard some tips about feedback and I want to share them here:

  • Think of a case where this behavior could be good (in Germany of WW3 lying to SS-Soldiers about your hidden Jewish friend would be the right think! The context matters!)
  • Start asking if you may tell him what your worries are… (including your fear that this could make things awful between both of you)
  • Think of a case where you showed the same “wrong” behavior and share it
  • Don’t call it “lying” if it is “being vague”
  • Try to address the behavior and not the person. Example: Once I told a girl, that she raised the head too much, making others think, that she was snootily. I didn't say, that she was snootily, I only addressed the objective behavior (body language is good, could be also words/phrases used...). This had unexpected consequences and in only some days other people noticed that this girl had changed for good!
  • (Think about and) Tell him that the consequences are already there: bad relationships with you and his colleagues. People don’t wanting to work with him, etc.
  • Ask him for a way to solve this problem together: what you can do (ask more questions to get him to be concrete), what can he do… How can others help
  • Make the next appointment to check the progress

I have a really trustworthy relationship with my manager and the first time I got angry and told him per Mail I was shaking at home until he called me and told me that he thinks that my anger shows him that this issue is very important for me and he thinks I’m right and he was wrong. And then this onions cutting ninjas appeared… And I was really relieved that he continued talking and that it was on the phone.

But I think doing it this way is very difficult, because we all are afraid of being “near” and sharing feelings with others. You really must have the right internal attitude (mind set) to make it work - techniques only don't work.

Good luck!


You aren't thinking about this like an engineer.

Other people confirm that it is not you. Good.

Get with HR and learn the process to fire someone.
With HR's knowledge, start collecting data with that being your goal.
If improvement happens, and the improvement remains, you don't have to fire.

To clarify the "vague" lies: he said that he didn't notice one "thing", but I don't agree with this since it is extremely difficult to miss this "thing" for different reasons.

Vague won't work, I get that.
However you can document vague, and a long series of "vague" becomes certain. Not "certain of a lie" but certain to demonstrate that the person cannot perform the job.

I had multiple talks with the employee about mainly behavioral issues: lack of teamwork, going with his own plan, performance lower than expected, not owning up to his mistakes, forgetting to fill timesheets, etc.

Take stock:

  • Going with his own plan demonstrates either an unwillingness or a lack of ability to follow instructions.
  • Consistent performance below expectations demonstrates inability to do the job
  • Forgetting to fill timesheets demonstrates a lack of ability to follow instructions.
  • Some lies are easy to prove, and I have already addressed them with him.
    Did you document them in a way that is acceptable to HR?

Unless the law requires he be notified, collect items for a month or so and hit him with all of them in one meeting.

Once this employee sees that you are committed to doing what you need to do to get rid of him one of these things will happen:

  • An employee committed to gaming the system will leave, as you said "there is a lack of engineers in the area" because now that you're on to him it is easier to start over at a new place.
  • In a case where the employee really does have problems with understanding your culture, he will make more effort and get better before you have enough data. (But don't discard the data)

It is likely that this person is doing far more damage to productivity and the other engineer's moral than you realize.


Go for a 2:1 with HR and yourself. To do this you will need to explain to HR the effect of his behaviour. For example if he says he's tested something but hasn't then that could have serious consequences. If you have to double check his work then that's a drain on your resources.

Now you're in a position to explain to him why his behaviour is not only annoying but also detrimental and not the sort of diligence expected of a professional engineer.

Once that is clarified you can set tasks which have to be signed-off by you or one of their colleagues. Tasks specified in writing. (Of course you hope things happen on-time but delay is not what you're specifically worried about and you have to live in the real world.)

Furthermore you agree (with him and HR) that a review will be held in say three months time. In the meantime HR provides minutes of this meeting under the heading 'Final written warning' so there is no doubt in anybody's mind this is last-chance-saloon.

To recap: You need to be clear why his actions are unacceptable and have HR understand them and document them.

Also: Your other workers may well be fed-up with his shenanigans too. There should be no secrecy about Charlie being asked to pull up his socks.

Also: Some wheedlers try to game the system by claiming 'stress' and promptly vanishing on infinite sick-pay. The mitigation for this is having HR leaning-over backwards to be his friend. (And being able to demonstrate that. eg In Final written warning communication they make it clear they understand it's an uncomfortable position to be put in, and if he has issues dealing with perceived pressure then he should contact them.)


Pinpoint their responses

Communication is a two-way-street. If the reponses that are given are vague, clarify. Make sure to obtain a clear answer and make sure to design your questions appropriately. If you receive vague responses, then follow up stating that you still did not obtain the information you asked for and are expecting the employee to provide it. Do all of this in writing whenever possible - you leave a trace and can take more time to formulate your communication properly.

No trust - no collaboration

Regardless of whether you decide to try pinpointing their responses or not - trust is key in a team. If you generally believe that trust cannot be achieved in this work relationship, then terminate them, no matter their value as an individual worker.

The proverb, "a rotten apple spoils the whole barrel" is very much true in such work environments. This employee lying might affect other team members as well.

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