What to Do When Your Boss Wants You to Cross the Line

Mark Mullaly is president of Interthink Consulting Incorporated, an organizational development and change firm specializing in the creation of effective organizational project management solutions. Since 1990, it has worked with companies throughout North America to develop, enhance and implement effective project management tools, processes, structures and capabilities. Mark was most recently co-lead investigator of the Value of Project Management research project sponsored by PMI. You can read more of his writing at markmullaly.com.

There comes a time for all of us when we get asked to cross the line.

Sometimes it’s a small thing, almost inconsequential. It might be as simple as changing where time is reported on an activity so that we can say that it was done “on time.” Our sponsor might ask us to change the status report indicator from “red” to “yellow” (or worse, to “green”). We might be asked to not include some parts of an estimate in a business case, or to increase the project benefits that are being projected. Or we might be asked to sit in a meeting with a colleague “but let me do the talking,” only to have a key issue about our project either not addressed or downplayed.

Sometimes, what we are asked to do is much more significant. We might be asked to falsify timesheets so that reported time is within regulated safe work amounts. We might be asked to work on a piece of equipment that we haven’t been trained to operate safely. We might be encouraged to fix something quickly, where doing so means that we are operating without the right safety equipment. Or it might be strongly suggested to us that our proposal will be looked upon much more favorably if a contribution is made to the charitable campaign they are conducting.

All of these are common situations. They do (or will) …

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