Dear OD Chatter,
I am less than 30 days on my new job, a job I was super excited to accept. However the senior leader who hired me and to whom I report has asked me to lie to administration. The gist is that he didn’t have the right to give me the amount of perks during the negotiation (which are in writing via email) of the job offer as I was being hired.
The first thing I noticed was that my formalized job offer letter wasn’t delivered to me until a few days ago. Upon reading it I went right to my VP and asked for an explanation. The largest disparity is with the vacation – I didn’t want less vacation time on this job than I had with the company I was leaving. I don’t want to lie to anyone and say I have doctor’s appointments to get the extra time and that is what he is asking me to do.
So now I’m in a job that I took under false pretenses – what are my options? I don’t want to get my boss in trouble and I would never have taken this position if I knew that my benefits would be so much less than what I had in my previous company. Help!!
I’ve been cheated! in Cherry Hill, NJ
Dear I’ve been cheated,
I can imagine how it feels to start a new job only to find yourself in the middle of a problem, not of your making within the first month.
Frequently when we are making a career move we lose sight of the process as the applicant and sometimes when we are the hiring manager we do the same. Our eagerness for new opportunities can put our common sense on the back burner. Ok, let’s begin to unpack your question.
Offer letters should be received prior to resigning from your current position. That way, all details are on the table and misunderstandings like this one can be avoided.
Having said that, there are times when the hiring manager wants you to begin work with them yesterday and they promise you the moon and the stars! That celestial picture can be appealing and as the applicant it is easy to ‘trust blindly’ but that is not a smart business move to make. If the hiring manager wants you to start so quickly they can also deliver the offer letter quickly.
Hiring managers who are at the VP level often have the autonomy to offer benefits that go outside of what may be normally offered so that they can attract top talent. Companies will sometimes allow this so they can compete in the marketplace for highly skilled candidates.
Now that you are there the best course of action is to work within their organizational systems. If you are lucky and have landed in an organization with a good culture, quality communication, and HR complaint systems this can be resolved in less than 2 weeks. If not, you may find yourself in an icy-cold environment that pushes you out of the company or you may have to walk away.
First I would brush off my resume and open it up to recruiters again. You won’t have to take any interviews or another job if this is worked out properly at your company but just in case, I would get the process of recruiting yourself out of the company started today.
Next I would speak candidly with your VP about the disparity of your email offer and your formal offer letter and openly express a dislike of being asked to lie to administration. If that conversation does not go well then escalate it up to the HR department to be resolved.
In a perfect world the process should flow like this: HR should conduct an investigation to gather all of the facts and all of the possible options to resolve the issue. That may take a week or two. Then they should bring all involved parties to the table together. At the table, an open discussion explaining all of the possible solutions will be shared. At this point you and your VP will create a new agreement.
This is a tricky situation and will stress the companies who have a weak culture but will be an easy issue to resolve for those organizations with a strong culture of open dialog and transparent intent.
Thank you for sending us your workplace questions!
OD Chatter is written by Debra Dee Bradford, CHRO of ODL Business Partners, Inc. (www.odlbp.com) an HR consulting firm specializing in organizational development and leadership training. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, send your workplace related questions to OD Chatter at email@example.com.