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Respect the law

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in Workplace Communication

Q. I’m in a bind. I work at a securities firm as an accountant. While I report to one boss, I really answer to two different executives. One of them is a by-the-book chief financial officer. The other is a hard-driving manager who focuses on the bottom line (his favorite line is “Just get it done”), and he doesn’t really care about whether I follow accounting practices or not. I’m under a lot of heat from these two strong-willed people. Help!

A. Beware of “just getting it done” at the expense of the rules. The securities industry, like many other fields, must operate under a web of state and federal laws and regulations. If you strive too hard to please someone who’s willing to disregard those laws, you’ll dig your own career grave. The next time the bottom-line-oriented manager says to you, “Just get it done,” show an eagerness to comply. For example, say, “I can see how important this is.” Then respond both orally and in writing by citing the specific rule that governs your work and ask, “Given this rule, how can I get this done to your satisfaction while still adhering to the law?” At the same time, explain the situation to the CFO and ask for advice. Maybe there’s a way you can produce results faster without bending the rules. Also check with your employer’s compliance specialist or ethics officer about how you can best accommodate both parties without making undue compromises.

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