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When Your Boss is a Liar Mark Swartz, M.B.A. M.Ed.

About the Author

Mark Swartz, MBA, M.Ed., is Canada's Career Activist. His insights reach millions yearly as the Career Advisor, as author of the best seller "Get Wired, You're Hired," also as a professional speaker and coach on career/work issues. A former Toronto Star careers columnist, Mark's advice is forthright and practical. For Canada's biggest directory of free career articles, and for personalized coaching, please visit

Dear Dmitri,

I was once in a very similar situation when I worked for one of the big banks. My boss had hired an expensive consulting firm to do a project that cost several hundred thousand dollars. I was on the project team and one day I was reviewing the latest report when I noticed that a critical page - one that outlined why the project would likely fail - had been removed. Since the only person that could access this report electronically and make changes was my boss, it was pretty clear that he was the guilty party.

As it happens, this particular boss was a jerk anyway in many other respects, like being rude and a total backstabber. So here was this incredible chance to blow him out of the water. Believe me, it was tempting to dream about how he'd get fired if I did the right thing and showed his supervisors the missing page (I had kept a copy from an earlier version of the report). I rubbed my hands with glee and drooled at the thought of humiliating my boss at last.

But...when it came down to it, the fact remained that he was higher up than me, and could easily get me fired or transferred. So I had to act discreetly. What I ended up doing was going to my boss' supervisor (with whom I had a strong working relationship) a few days later, and made as if I had a dilemma I needed advice on. I explained the situation factually, but deliberately did not point fingers. No sense making it seem I was on a vendetta or else it would have hurt my credibility. It turned out this supervisor was well aware of my boss' various transgressions. His advice to me was to say nothing and keep behaving as if there was no problem. I wondered why at the time but sure enough within two months, my own boss had accepted a job at one of the competing banks and was gone.

In your case, Dmitri, you have a number of options, although I have to say that none of them are particularly pleasant:

1) Pretend it never happened. Don't say a word about it at work and let things proceed just as they are. This saves you from having to confront your boss or rat her out to her supervisor, but leaves you frustrated and vulnerable.

2) Discuss it with your boss. See if the two of you can come up with a strategy to get your department back in the good books. It's an honest and positive way to work things out. However history is littered with examples of bosses covering their tracks and ''shooting the messenger'' (and unfortunately you are the messenger in this case).

3) Go over your boss' head. Her manager may be hungering for an excuse to clobber her, who knows. But be very careful here, because if it leaks back to your boss that you crossed her, it may be possible that she'll make your life miserable before the company can act otherwise.

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