I Told the Truth

August 24, 2020

I Told the Truth

In the last post, you sent in a progress report projecting a six-week overrun rather than the three months likely. But you may have set yourself up as the fall guy. Another option you had originally was to send the real report with the three month problem. What would have happened if you sent the truth?

Your team will probably be pleased. “Now those guys will get that we need more time.” More importantly, you’ve been honest. It’s bad news but it’s the straight goods.

Your boss’ reaction to the truth

Rhonda:I got the report. … weren’t you a little pessimistic?
You:Rhonda, I’ve reviewed the numbers every which way to Sunday.
Rhonda:But a whole quarter behind!
You:We can recoup with the second half money.
Rhonda:They won’t give it to you— it’s throwing good money after bad.
You:But the mitigation strategies will work!
Rhonda:Trevor (her VP) has to see the report. Think about it. I won’t send it until the end of the day.

You sit back when she’s gone. She couldn’t have been clearer if she`d drawn a map. She wants a lower projected overrun. Your stomach starts to churn. The afternoon goes slowly. You keep wondering if you should cave. But every time, it comes back to you’ve done your job and now it’s up to others to do theirs. You let 5:00 come and go.

VP’s reaction

Things start happening fast.

The next morning, Rhonda`s e-mail de-invites you to the presentation. No explanation. You`re worried although you’re not quite sure why.

A couple of days later, the committee minutes arrive in your in-box. Normally, you`d trash the e-mail without opening. But this time, you read the part about you.

Although the systems revitalization project is six weeks behind schedule, this shortfall will be made up over the next two years. The committee released the rest of the project funds.

You let out a yelp and rush to Rhonda`s office.

You:What’s this about six weeks?
Rhonda:We decided you were too pessimistic. The committee needed a more realistic view.
You:But it isn’t true!
Rhonda:They`d have cancelled the project with your projections.
Rhonda:Did it not occur to you that the committee will vote extra money in Year Five if you’re still behind?
Rhonda:By that time, they’ve invested so much that they’ll ante up.
You:I didn’t know.
Rhonda:That’s obvious. (pause) You put me in an awkward position with Trevor. It’s not what I expect from a team player.

Where does that leave you?

You’ve pissed Rhonda off and probably Trevor. But you told the truth. How can that be wrong? Maybe not but you weren’t aware of the undercurrents operating.

Your reputation was on the line, but so were Rhonda’s and Trevor’s. Trevor will think Rhonda can’t deliver and the committee will think the same of Trevor with the numbers you submitted. You weren’t factoring in the needs of your bosses.

Because of this, Rhonda doesn’t think you’re a team player. You didn’t see the bigger picture, i.e. you’re not promotable certainly in the short term and possibly longer.

Secondly, looks like the VP was gambling that the committee would fund a cost overrun at the end but a big gap now might tank it. He had a strategy up his sleeve you didn’t know about.

Sounds like I’m suggesting you should lie, no? Yes and no. My next post will talk about the requirement for lying at work.

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