My Boss Reports Wrong Numbers!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about boss misreporting numbers:

I work for a pretty big corporation, and we were to told to report numbers that were simple inaccurate. Our supervisor approached us and explained us what the department expectations were, but we the employees expressed our concerns and disagreed. However, we are in the process of transitioning some of our functions to another group that do what the department expectations are. I know that the numbers are also provided to the Executive VPs for measurements for departments, and of course the department that is reporting these numbers are getting most of the work transitioned to them since they are producing the numbers upper management wants to see. I have seen their queries and reports and know that the data is incorrect.

We, as a group, have tried many times to address this issue with our direct manager, but she favors her group so she basically she does not believe us. Why do honest hard working people lose their functions to a bunch of liars and what to do?

Signed, Sorry, Wrong Number

Dear Sorry, Wrong Number:

Making the numbers is a pressure bosses and their subordinates often feel. Fudging and lying about the numbers, in light of the many recent corporate scandals, should be something that wise managers avoid like the plague. What does your corporate policy book say about honesty and how to deal with what appears to be misconduct and deceit? What action is recommended for employees who want to make ethical choices? To whom are you to go to if you are in doubt about ethical issues? A major corporation should have appointed someone high up in the organization to encourage and be available for discussion of ethical matters. Highlight those words. You may find a place for them in how you choose to deal with instances such as you describe.

The fundamental rule that should guide and protect you and your organization is: sign off on only what you believe to be true. You say, “I have seen their queries and reports and I know the data is incorrect.” So what should you do? Get your ducks and numbers in a row. After consulting your policy manual, prepare a statement regarding the numbers that you and your co-workers “know” are accurate.

Meet again with those above who have provided inaccurate figures. Present your differing numbers. Learn if and why your superiors state the numbers differently. Intelligent people can disagree, and those who disagree may protect themselves by putting in writing what they believe to be true and then continuing to work with what those in charge determine to be the figures that they must work with. However, if you still disagree and in fact think the reported numbers are false and misleading, you have a choice: to bite your tongue or to state that you are morally committed to take this matter up the chain of command.

You may need to remind your self and your managers that retaliation against those who report ethical violations, whether internal or external, is a violation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Working within one’s company to request investigation of questionable ethical matters, should be appreciated by corporate executives and their legal advisers. Approach what you elect to do with this positive attitude. Don’t let fear cause you to back off what you think is misrepresentation and dishonesty. The matter of that you think have been misreported being transferred to another work group of “Yes people” should not detract from expressing your concerns. Does this make sense to you? Like safety, the integrity of an organization must come before ambition to look good to those above. We end our comments with our personal and corporate symbol Think WEGO. Because of the importance of your question, I am copying Tina Rowe, my associate Workplace Doctor. She often has words wiser than mine to add or modify what I advise.

William Gorden