Office Coach: To rat or not to rat?

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Q: My co-workers have figured out how to manipulate the time clock so they don’t have to put in a full day’s work. Our boss never keeps regular hours either, so the staff is just following his example. Because the company is headquartered in another state, upper management doesn’t pay much attention to our small office. I would like to report this problem, but I’m reluctant to rat out my co-workers. Do you have any suggestions?

A: First of all, you are not a fool. You’re an honest person who happens to work with a bunch of cheaters, so kudos to you for having a strong moral compass. Unfortunately, being right doesn’t always make it easy to decide what to do.

One possibility is to present this issue not as staff misconduct, but as an administrative problem. Instead of calling out your colleagues, you might simply advise the appropriate person that the attendance tracking system is not reporting hours accurately for your office. The recipient of this report can then decide what to do with it.

Attendance is typically overseen by human resources, so that may be the best place to send the information. If personal contact seems too difficult or risky, outline your concerns in an anonymous letter to the department head. Even though unsigned complaints are frequently ignored, a specific system problem is likely to be investigated.

Before taking any action, however, you should carefully weigh the pros and cons, especially since your boss might be involved in this time clock scam. Monitoring the staff is not your responsibility, so if acting as a whistleblower could put your job in jeopardy, then keeping quiet is a perfectly acceptable choice.

Q: I recently hired an employee who tries to control every situation. “Megan” frequently tells me that she is accustomed to being in charge because she has held leadership roles in the past. She routinely ignores my instructions and pays no attention to deadlines.

She also is very disrespectful to the volunteers who donate their time to our organization. When I have spoken to Megan about this, she always says the volunteer was at fault. How do you manage this kind of person?

A: Megan sounds like a classic “power-grabber.” Power-grabbers hate giving up control, so they automatically resent anyone who has authority over them. These employees only respect confident, authoritative managers, so you need to establish clear expectations for Megan and hold her accountable if she fails to meet them.

A greater concern, however, is Megan’s disturbing treatment of volunteers. Unless she can demonstrate a more professional and courteous attitude, she should not be allowed to work with them. And if Megan is still in her probationary period, you may have sufficient evidence to conclude that she should not be working there at all.

Marie G. McIntyre, a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics,” can be reached at http://www.yourofficecoach.com


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