To Obey, Comply or Not: How to Handle Unethical Requests Made by Your Boss?

March 29, 20172:39 pm5532 views

Employee: ‘Sir, I find some inflated figures in this financial report.’

The Boss responds: ‘It’s okay, I have checked it. Please make sure to get it processed.’

What crosses your mind when you hear such unethical requests made by your boss? Chances are, you are in one the biggest dilemmas of your career journey. Should you obey and comply to such unethical and illegal means? The conflict between heart and minds, to obey or not, makes it hard to arrive at a decision immediately – so you take time before you execute the order.

If you say ‘Yes’, you are consciously aware that you are agreeing for something unethical and illegal. Perhaps, you are even breaking the code of ethics at work and laws that govern workplace culture. On the contrary, if you refuse and say ‘No’, then you might have face negative consequences for denial. You could even end up losing your job and this could mean staking your career. No matter what you do, it feels like a lose-lose situation.

Here’s what to do when you find yourself in such a tricky situation:

See: Businessman jailed for illegal employment of foreigners

  1.    Confirm to the request or not: The dilemma of power play

When your boss assigns you to follow an illegal pathway, you are then compelled to conform to such requests immediately. However, if you have a kind boss, you could demand for proper explanations to see how and why such actions are initiated and why you are put in such an awkward situation.

  1.    Follow your gut instincts

If you have a bad feeling about the task assigned, then don’t proceed. If the task assigned seems illegal, it probably really is. You should always be cautious when something seems not right. Start asking questions to your boss and plan your next move accordingly. The key point here is to stay true to your moral compass and follow your gut instincts.

  1.    Don’t comply

After learning from your boss that the task assigned to you, is meant to violate the company norms, business practices or even make you look like a law breaker (taking responsibility for your wrongdoings at work only to secure your position), then you should politely deny such requests with tact and choose to walk away.

Don’t hurriedly refuse based on impulses, however do not delay responding either. Make sure to have grasped the bigger picture and impact of your actions on workplace culture, team and your personal repute with clarity, before you put across your reason points for non-compliance to orders.

  1.    Provide strong valid reasons

Upon hearing your refusal towards a request made, there is a high probability that your boss will be curious to understand the reasons and what’s on your mind, your next moves, and so on.

Therefore, provide strong arguments and logical reasons to defend yourself without provoking anger. Be careful about your choices of words, because disobeying your boss’ might cost you a job and perhaps a career, along with financial losses as well.

  1.    Keep it to yourself

You might feel the need to share what you experienced in dealings with your boss to co-workers. However, it will be wise to keep such unethical observations and requests under cover and only to yourself.

Remember, gossips travel faster than time in the workplace and if such acts are known to your co-workers it might disrupt their workings and seed toxicity into the culture. Also if news of such unexpected behaviours from boss spreads outside the corner walls of your office, it might cost your organization’s repute. Also sharing such info with peers at work, could put your personal reputation at stake as well.

  1.    Turn them in

Even if you say ‘No’, there are chances that your boss will just look for someone else, who is willing to do it. To prevent such negative cycle repetition, you should gather facts, study the case scenario, business need and collect related documents to turn them to the right authority.

Approach the HR department if needed be and explain your current situation to see how they can help.

  1.    Start your job search

When you refuse acceptance or compliance to illegal/unethical orders from senior managers, you could soon face the consequences of denial -losing your job. But then again on second thoughts, what good can be gained by working in a workplace with toxic culture?

Get started with a plan for your next job search, and find a more credible employer for brighter career prospects in the long run. When your boss is asking you to commit something fishy, you should give it thorough consideration before agreeing to it. Always bear in mind that merely following the order does not protect you from any criminal charges either, if something goes wrong in the future.

It is critical to understand the facts, observe the whole situation, consider the potential risks and consequences, and know your position. Agreeing to such unethical requests will not only break your moral compass, question your character, but can also plague your entire life. Therefore, sketch out a plan to stay safe and protected at all times, with tact. Be true, stay real!

Read also: MOM Takes Action against Companies Illegally Bringing in Foreign Labour

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