Michael Wade over at Execupundit has a marvellous post that should be printed out in 24pt type and stuck on the back of every Manager’s door.

Why we don’t respond honestly when you ask “How’s it going?”
  1. We’ve noticed that bad things tend to happen – perhaps not today or tomorrow, but eventually – to people who answer honestly.
  2. We suspect, due to our experience with another employer or manager, that bad things will occur.
  3. We see that a dishonest but upbeat answer will cause you to leave us alone. That is good.
And 7 more insightful points

The client who christened me “The Insultant” all those years ago told me immediately following our first session on presentation skills that it had been the first time he had heard the unvarnished truth in years. Sometimes, you inherit staff who simply aren’t capable of telling you the truth or offering you meaningful feedback. More often, it’s a case of the culture that you have engendered precluding that kind of honesty.

In my Epigrammatical presentation, I have a beautiful quote from an old colleague of mine. I have seen this expressed many different ways by many different pundits, but never as pithily as this:

“If you ask a question you don’t want an answer to, don’t get angry when you get an answer you don’t want to hear.”

Managers everywhere would do well to heed.