My boss constantly asks me to cover for him in the office. If someone calls (including his wife or the CEO of the company) that he does not want to talk to, he tells me make us and excuse or tell them that he is not in. He also asks me to make up reasons why he is often late to meetings or cannot attend events.
At first I just went along with the program because I was new and afraid of losing my job. But it has been over a year and I am getting fed up. I hate lying and am very uncomfortable. How can I talk with my boss about this without jeopardizing my job?
Little White Lies
Dear Little White Lies:
I believe that everyone has the right to work in an nonhostile environment. To me part of that includes being able to do your job with excellence and to not find yourself in compromising positions that go against your personal values.
While you may be in an occupation that calls for you to run interference and screen telephone calls for another person, you should not have to compromise your integrity to do so. There are ways to say a person is “unavailable” without making up a lie or a false excuse. Simply saying a person is “unavailable” is oftentimes sufficient to screen a call and take a message. You can still do your job with excellence and avoid telling lies or making up excuses. It is not your concern why or why not your boss does not want to speak with a particular person, you simply convey the message as to whether he “can” take the call or not.
If your boss is telling you specific things to say that are making you uncomfortable, you need to have a conversation with him and let him know your position. Maybe it is possible that two of you can come up with some standard ways to filter and handle unwanted calls.
Hopefully your boss will appreciate your honesty and will respect your position. If not, you can follow the proper procedure and speak to someone in HR or someone higher up to help resolve the issues. If your boss is the final link in the chain and he still demands that you lie to cover him, you may want to look for another position.
Author of the upcoming book Been There Done That: And Lived to Tell About It, Tamara R. Allen is Your Advice Guru giving REAL advice from REAL experience. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
. You can follow Tamara on twitter @tamararallen or check out her daily column and archives at www.tamararallen.com
This was printed in the March 25, 2012 - April 7, 2012 Edition