Forced To Change Report

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about “in my name”: My boss is very worried about his job and wants everything to look hunky dory when we know that they aren’t

I write reports on complaints within contracted suppliers. I have written a report that I think highlights problems. My boss wants me to change the conclusion and say we will revisit in a year. I do not agree so said I didn’t want the report issued in my name. My boss got rather nasty and told me it would go out in my name whether I liked it or not with the changed recommendation and it has. I’m not happy.

Signed, At Odds With Boss

Dear At Odds With Boss:

You have both a practical and an ethical dilemma; practical because you are under your boss’ authority and ethical because you think it would be dishonest to whitewash your report’s conclusion. This is not the first such boss/bossed practical and ethical conflict. It has occurred many times. It is pretty much a rule of thumb that bosses don’t want something that might reflect badly on them to go up the line or be known anywhere.

You have uncomfortable options:· Refuse and see what your boss does. · Modify your thinking and/or rationalize changes made to comply with the boss’s orders. · Keeping a copy of your report as it is and also mailing a dated copy with a description of how you were ordered to modify it to an attorney who agrees to maintain it in confidence, but changing the report as your boss orders and reluctantly signing. · Persuade your boss that your findings are credible and that reporting bad news is a way to demonstrate that improving supplier relations requires action and can make her/him look like a responsible boss.

See this as an opportunity to work through an important ethical issue with your boss and help him realize that you are a both loyal and honest. · By-passing your boss: informing him that you think this matter should be brought above and state that you will do so. Possibly suggest that your boss accompany you to a higher authority You might think of other options, perhaps one that is creative enough to mend the rift with your boss. I don’t know what is your tenure with this firm, past relationship with your boss, or your corporate culture (as related to ethical matters). Nor do I know how badly you need and want to keep your job. Therefore, what you elect to do hinges on a complex mix of overlapping issues. However, from what you have written it is obvious that you are stressed about disguising you findings and putting your name to it.

This is the kind of issue that you could bring to an ombudsman or possibly to Human Resources.Although my answer is not short, in short, you must either bite your tongue and quiet your conscience or risk the further wrath of your boss. It would not be a problem if you did not and do not have a sense of what is honest. That’s the problem with the saying “Honesty is the best policy” and having parents, teachers, and clergy telling us that and with those in business seeing it as more rhetoric that principle. Possibly you might consult with someone outside your company about this matter. But I suggest that it would not be wise to gossip about it within your company. This matter highlights an important principle: It is not so important as it was for the head of the CIA to say it is a “slam dunk” when he knew the evidence was conflicted, but it is a matter of principled reporting at your level. Your choice of what to do is not comfortable and you will have to decide with what you can live.I send goodwill with you. Whatever you elect to do is good to know that there are individuals like you who want to do what is right. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and that big picture is what you want for yourself and your workplace. The one thing you want to remember is that you were ordered to, not forced, to change change your report.

Follow Up I have spoken with a Trade Union Rep and the Union are supporting my point of view. I have a meeting to discuss this matter with my boss on Monday and will tell him of the advice I have received and that I will be taking this further if this happens again. It will be an interesting meeting that I am not looking forward to it as my boss cannot deal with confrontation by a younger female and will become very aggressive in body language and tone of voice. I’m not looking forward to it whatsoever. I will have zero support but I have to be true to myself and if things go wrong, it will be my name and my work that will be called into question. My boss is very worried about his job and wants everything to look hunky dory when we know that they aren’t but does not seem to appreciate that if something happens and we as a department were aware of it, then we will be found wanting.

Reply: Thanks for the update. Do think positively. You want your boss and your department to look good; however, it could look even better if he and you are seen as honestly tracking what is not right for profits and getting the job done. Prepare by briefly listing what you see as wrong and how it might hurt your company if it continues. And approach this conversation as a problem solving session, not defensively. Keep cool and in good humor. My best to you.Thanks for your advice.

William Gorden