Believe it or not, some bosses don’t play by the rules. Okay, so it’s not that hard to imagine, but you would think that a person who has risen to a position of power got there through honest, hard work, right? Unfortunately, power sometimes breeds corruption, turning the most honest worker into a controlling diabolical mastermind who does what they want, when they want. As an employee, you might find yourself in a situation in which your boss makes unethical decisions that will ultimately end up harming everyone involved in the long run. But, of course, you don’t want to bite the hand that feeds you, and you’re afraid that speaking up may result in you standing in line at the unemployment office. While I can’t tell you what to do, I can certainly point out the warning signs to look out for that tell you it’s time to move out from under the power-hungry employer you’ve found yourself working for.
1. Acting Deceptively
Have you ever had a boss that blamed the team for all of his own shortcomings, or one that took all the credit when the team accomplished something as a whole? Whether lying through omission or straight up telling a lie, some bosses will do whatever it takes to make themselves look good, even if it’s at the expense of others. Then there are the bosses who make false promises to squeeze out as much hard work from their employees as possible; promises of raises, time off, or promotions that are met with nothing but excuses. Again, they’ll try to shift the blame: “I put in a good word for you, but the company is going in a different direction”. Usually what that means is that they got a raise for getting you to work harder, but you won’t be seeing a single extra penny in your paycheck.
2. Forcing You to Go Against Your Conscience
As an employee of a company, you’d expect your boss to be completely honest with you about the company’s policies and goals. But that won’t always be the case. Just think of the numerous “charities” being run by major organizations (such as the NFL’s Pink October initiative) that are actually just huge marketing ploys. How many employees entered into a position within such a project thinking they were going to be making a huge difference in the world, only to find out the leaders of the organization care more about making money than they do about curing breast cancer? And, of course, since they’ve already signed a contract and declined other job offers, these well-meaning employees get stuck working for an evil empire despite disagreeing with everything the company stands for.
3. Not Honoring a Commitment
Earlier, we discussed deceptive employers who renege on their promises, but even if they weren’t acting maliciously, that doesn’t absolve them of wrongdoing. Say you’ve requested their assistance on a project and have set a time to meet with your boss to work everything out. Barring any sort of emergency, they absolutely need to hold themselves to the meeting. If the employer agreed to help but ends up flaking out on the meeting, the employee in need of assistance will suffer as well as the company as a whole. Blowing off an employee’s needs only builds distrust, which will trickle all the way down to the lowest employee in the company.
4. Comitting Illegal Conduct
While unethical conduct is not necessarily illegal, it should be obvious that illegal conduct is certainly unethical. If you catch your boss stealing from the company in any way, you’re caught in a dilemma: do you blow the whistle and face possible repercussions – especially if it ends up being a misunderstanding – or do you keep quiet and implicate yourself as an accomplice in the process? It might be something that seems minor, like taking a ream of paper home, or it could be something as major as realizing they’ve been embezzling thousands of dollars from the company’s payroll. Whatever it is, if it’s illegal, do what you can to absolve yourself of any wrongdoing, no matter how you do it. This goes for negligence, as well. If your boss’ failure to act put you or other employees in danger, it needs to be reported to their superior immediately. Even if you do face mild backlash, it’s better than facing criminal charges for keeping quiet.
5. Disregarding Policy
Even if your boss’ actions aren’t illegal, they can still be against company policy, which puts you in a tough spot. Say, for example, your boss disagrees with a decision handed down from above him and chooses to neglect a mandate or otherwise disregard his boss. If you go against your boss, you’re obviously not following protocol. But if you go along with him, you undermine the higher-ups who have much more power than your supervisor. Of course, if your boss gets called out on his actions, he’ll most likely blame you or others on your level for his misguided actions, so it’s important you do something. While you don’t want to break the chain of command, you should definitely cover yourself so that if the sh*t hits the fan, you’ll come out smelling like a rose.
6. Misusing Company Resources or Time
I previously talked about what to do if you catch your boss stealing, but what if his actions fall in a grey area? Even if he’s been given a company car, he should only be using it during company functions. Same goes for credit cards: if he’s using company money to buy McDonald’s, he’s stealing.
But what about when it comes to stealing time? Obviously, when a person is on the clock, his company is paying him to work. So if your boss uses his working time unwisely, or for personal reasons, he’s stealing from the company. Not only that, but if workers see a boss wasting time, they’ll no doubt start doing the same. Sooner or later, productivity will grind to a halt and the company will end up facing a much bigger issue.
7. Showing Favoritism
Let’s be realistic: there’s no way for a boss to like each one of their employees equally. After all, they’re people, too. Regardless of their personal feelings for their employees, though, bosses do need to treat each of them equally. This means they can’t delegate more responsibility to the workers they don’t necessarily like while leaving their pals with little to no work at all to do. And they certainly can’t let the ones they like get away with taking extra sick days or being late on assignments. While it’s okay to have more in common with one person, and therefore enjoy their company a bit more, it’s definitely not okay to treat them any better than others who work in the same capacity. And it should be obvious that nepotism is a huge no-no in the workplace. If your boss hires his nephew for a position you were in line for, there’s definitely a huge issue there.
Like I said, bosses are people, just like the rest of us. They’re not immune to faults or mistakes. However, they do have to hold themselves to a higher standard and be much more careful about the decisions they make and the actions they take. After all, they get paid the big bucks for a reason.
Can you think of any other employer behaviors we should be wary of? Let us know in the comments section below!