Dealing with An Unethical Boss In Corporate America
At first thought one may think that the rules for dealing with an unethical boss in Corporate America are the same as dealing with an unethical boss in other industries such as fast food and retail places such as McDonalds, Burger King, Best Buy. I don't know if they are. The stakes are different. There is so much more
to lose in a high profile corporate America job. Jobs at Mc Donalds, Burger King or in retail stores such as Best Buy tend to have much higher attrition levels and your professional reputation or chance of being Black Balled throughout an industry or region aren't as high. Plus unethical bosses in Corporate America wont allow you to take them out without a mortal kombat style fight. They will do everything in their power to kill you first. So think through the consequence and tread lightly.
So let me tell you about a story.
I was working in Corporate America for a global IT company within the Finance department. We had completed the annual budget months prior and all budget reports and presentations had gone out to relevant parties cementing the budget in stone. Unbeknowst to me my boss had submitted a summary of budget targets to the sales teams worldwide which didnt tie to our official files. Months into the new year people started to question our files. Instead of my boss admitting she had made a mistake she instead requested that I restate the budget files and numbers to match her submitted targets. How did I respond, you ask? I'll tell you.
She made her request seem like it was no big deal. So I responded to her by questioning that if it were in fact no big deal why wouldn't she just admit her mistake? She let me know that the CFO would have her head. I questioned if what she was suggesting was okay to do? She said yes and that she and I would work together to derive the new files. I documented everthing she said, sent it in an email and wrote that the changes that I was making was all per her instruction.
Now some of you may be thinking why didnt I report her to human resources or to her boss?
It's not always that straight forward in Corporate America. There are unofficial retalitations and blackballing that goes down. Plus my boss had painted me as a bad incompetent person to everyone throughout the organization and I knew she had the power to lie her way out of things and to deceive everyone into thinking it was my fault or doing. While I knew what she did was unethical, I didn't see any upside for me to reporting her. It was truly a loose loose situation. A catch 22. I would've been deemed an untrustworthy snitch and she would've gotten nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
Whilst many corporations claim to have ethical hotlines and have strong policies against retaliations it's just not the case in reality. When working in Corporate America one has to be very cognizant of the unwritten rules of the office culture. It's not always about what is ethical or not or who's right and who's wrong, sometimes its about doing what's best for you. In my case, I knew reporting my manager would've done nothing to benefit me and that she and her goons would've tried to do everything in their power to further destroy me no not only within the organization but throughout the industry. So I kept my mouth shut, maintained a paper trail to protect myself in case anything ever went down and realized that I wasn't paid enough to solve every issue. Let the auditors do that.
Is my approach to be applied in every scenario? No. Of course not. Every company and every corporate culture is different. So there is no one size fits all answer for dealing with an unethical boss. But what I would suggest is to think through how reporting an unethical boss would affect you.
Have you ever been put in a situation where you had to think through practical solutions for dealing with an unethical boss? What was the situation? What did you do?
Let us know in the comments below.