I work for a non profit agency. Certain employees are incredible movers and shakers, whilst other employees are late for work, doing personal business the majority of the day/or playing on the internet, miss time from work, leave early, and do not complete assignments. The boss condones the actions because they are all “lunchtime” buddies.
HELP! The morale is steadily decreasing and no one is accountable, especially the boss (after all the money is good, especially when one can do minimal work, and come and go as one pleases). I am afraid we are going to lose our funding because of a few bad apples. The board of directors are not monitoring the situation even though it has been brought to their attention.
OFFICE-POLITICS REPLY BY FRANKE JAMES
Yes, it appears that you do have cause for worry, for yourself and your non-profit agency. It’s clear from reading the daily newspaper, that seemingly small abuses, such as you are describing, can blow up and cause major embarrassment (and loss of funding).
But before you take any action ask yourself if the problems you cite are seriously putting the agency’s goals at risk. If they are, then you may want to take action, but it is not for the timid. Read on…
While you are not the source of the problem, inaction in the face of serious abuses could result in the demise of your organization, not to mention legal action. I consulted with Dr. John Burton concerning your situation and the best course of action.
Board Of Directors Ignoring Warning Bells
First off, it appears that you are not in a position of power to effect change. The Boss hasn’t listened to you, and the Board of Directors is ignoring the warning bells. So what are your choices?
You can choose to look the other way, since you have already taken steps to bring the matter to the agency’s attention. But that solution doesn’t solve the problem that your job could be ‘kaput’ when the funding organization hears that their money is being frittered away.
Should You Blow The Whistle?
The optimum, but most difficult, course of action is for you to step forward as a ‘whistleblower’. But it will take tremendous courage on your part to do so.
Since the Boss and the Board of Directors have already been notified and chose to ignore the warnings, you will need to turn to a higher authority. Think carefully about who that should be. Is it the funding organization? Is it the government? Perhaps an umbrella organization? Or is it the media?
Build A Strong Case To Withstand Intense Scrutiny
Whomever you choose to report to, you will need to send a detailed letter, with the abuses clearly outlined. Take care to document everything, and build a strong case which will withstand intense scrutiny. You can expect that your credibility will be attacked by your Boss, some of your co-workers, and the Board of Directors. If you have a family friend who is a lawyer it would be a good time to consult with them and ask them to review your letter, and evidence, before you go “public”. And if any of your co-workers can be brought on-side to bolster your case that would be a big help.
As you’re reading this, you may say to yourself that bringing this to light is too big a personal risk for you to take. And that may be true. But think of what would happen if the media gets hold of this story and it becomes front page news… Which side do you want to be on? The silver lining could be that you establish yourself as a highly ethical individual who is not afraid to speak up. And that can only help you, personally and professionally, in the long run.
Thanks for writing to Office-Politics.
Best of luck,
Franke James, MFA
Inventor, The Office-Politics® Game
Editor & Founder of OfficePolitics.com
Franke James, MFA is the Editor & Founder of OfficePolitics.com. She is also the Inventor of The Office-Politics® Game a dilemma-based social game that teaches you how to play, and laugh, at office politics. It’s used by HR departments, and corporate trainers worldwide. The Office-Politics Dilemmas have been inspired by the hundreds of letters submitted to Office-Politics.com.
Publication note: This letter was originally published in 2004. We are republishing the best letters from Office-Politics and integrating them with our blog format.