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Boss wants you to falsify information: Should you?

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in Your Office Coach

Question:  “Our appraisal system requires supervisors to schedule quarterly conferences with their employees, but my boss never does. On my annual performance review, he always lists the dates when our conferences should have happened, then asks me to sign it. I have never been comfortable falsifying this information, but I don't know what to do. Should I just suck it up and sign to keep my boss out of trouble? Or should I refuse and risk becoming the target of retaliation?” — Honest Employee

Marie’s Answer:  Any supervisor who asks an employee to lie should be horsewhipped. But since ratting out your boss could backfire and damage your own career, here are some alternative ideas:

•    The choice of lying or refusing puts you between the proverbial rock and hard place.  However, a third option is to schedule the quarterly conferences yourself. Put the dates on your supervisor’s calendar, then send him a reminder shortly before each meeting.

•    Since your boss is unlikely to prepare for these discussions, create your own agenda. Review accomplishments and challenges for the quarter, and then ask for his reaction. You can also discuss other current issues.

•    When the supervisor is a poor performance manager, employees often have to work hard to get feedback. But the effort is usually worth it, because otherwise there may be unpleasant surprises at review time.

At best, the conferences that you initiate might actually turn into productive meetings.  But if not, at least you no longer will be certifying false information. 

For more Office Coach suggestions on getting feedback from your boss, see How (and why) to Ask for Criticism.

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