When I got hired at my company, the human resources department interviewed me and sent me into my now boss’ office for a “final interview.” He asked only one question, if I knew how to “run interference” for my supervisor.
I answered, “Absolutely. I’m the mom of a football player. I know what blocking and tackling mean.” I thought he meant holding calls when he didn’t want to be interrupted and handling other problems so he could concentrate on more important matters.
Two weeks into my job, my boss asked me to tell his wife he was “out of town” if she called the office. When I said, “I didn’t know you’d be traveling;” he answered, “I’m not, but that’s what I want you to say.”
I’ve never lied for a boss. What do I do?
If you don’t want to lie, and his wife calls, you can truthfully respond, “My boss said to tell you he was out of town.”
If his wife questions you further, you can say, “I’m sorry, this is what I was told to tell you, and he is my boss.”
Meanwhile, document this interaction, visit HR, and look for a new job. When a supervisor asks an employee to lie, he abuses his position. That’s a problem your company needs to handle.
Your boss’s interview question, coupled with this incident, suggest he may expect you to shave the truth in ways that cut into your sense of ethics. If your company doesn’t act and you don’t want to be backed into a corner where you’re forced to lie to keep your job, you’re better off leaving under your own steam.
If you stay, he may fire you when he learns you don’t provide the “cover” he seeks.
© 2020, Lynne Curry
Lynne Curry, Ph.D., SPHR, is the author of “Beating the Workplace Bully” (AMACOM, 2016, https://amzn.to/30V5JO6) and “Solutions”, https://amzn.to/2GYlnAN (both books are rated 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com). Send your questions to her at https://workplacecoachblog.com/ask-a-coach/ or follow her on twitter @lynnecurry10. www.workplacecoachblog.com.
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