Boss Says Do As I Say Not As I Do

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about moonlighting boss:

How can I approach one of my supervisors who has the “Do as I say and not as I do” attitude? He has a business outside of his work for the company and everyone sees things he does that may be borderline of doing his moonlighting while on the job. Also, his moonlighting seems to be conflicting with his job. He plans his regular job around his side business.

Signed, Should I Speak Up?

Dear Should I Speak Up?:

There are three possible approaches to this situation.One is to take the attitude that unless your boss’s actions interfere with your work, you will leave that up to his boss to supervise him. That isn’t as bad as it sounds, if the problems have been minor.The other approach is to document the things that your boss is doing that clearly show a conflict of interest or a rules violation and present or send that in person or anonymously to the person who supervises your boss.The third is to mention the matter to your boss, as you suggested, and tell him the effect it is having on others.One thing to consider is if the boss has permission to work the second job. If he does, he is not violating an ethics rule or a company policy.

Therefore, it is up to his manager to decide if he’s getting his work done effectively. If you are being required to do your boss’s work, so he can work the other job, then it would be worthwhile to say something. If not, you may want to just let it go unless it is becoming really a problem. If he does not have permission to work another job or if there have been multiple situations in which he clearly has not done his work in order to do the other work, then it is right and fair that you should report that to his manager and ask for an investigation.

I don’t like anonymous complaints, but you may feel you must do that. I don’t think the third options of talking directly to your boss will be very helpful, since I doubt that your boss would respond positively to your comments and suggestions. If you know him well and the two of you have a good relationship, that would be different.

Consider if there are ways to let your boss’s manager know about his work habits, without making a complaint. For example, if your boss leaves early, if you have to do some work for him, if you know of a problem–maybe those things could be brought to the manager’s attention.You don’t mention the kind of work you do, but that is also something to consider. If your boss’s activities have a negative effect on safety, security or the well-being of employees or customers, that’s one thing. If he is simply not as committed as he should be, that is more of a matter for his manager to deal with.

This is a difficult situation I know, but I also know that employees seem to find ways to let higher-ups be aware of supervisor misconduct! The biggest concern is that perhaps your boss’s boss is well aware of what he is doing, so your intervention would not be well received. Hopefully, the matter can be resolved in a way that gets your boss back on the right track or out of the company, without you and other employees having to be involved very much. Best wishes to you with this. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.