Do you have a tricky problem in the workplace? Let our office politics strategist show you how to turn it to your advantage …
My boss has asked me to do some work just for him, for a client he has brought in. The other directors don't know - they think I'm supposed to be working on something else. The project doesn't have a project number or fee proposal or any of the formal procedures we usually go through for new work, but I'm expected to produce a feasibility study very quickly. Should I tell the directors and confront my boss, or just get on with it?
Hmm, what's really going on here? Has you boss merely neglected to tell the other directors about an above-board bit of business development, or is he asking you to undertake covert - and perhaps lucrative - private work?
Let's give him the benefit of the doubt. It's not unusual for an architect to do concept work without charging a client for it and creative types aren't always the best managers. Perhaps he just forgot to tell the other directors, which should be a fairly easy situation to rectify: a quick word with your boss, a comment accidentally "dropped" into conversation or an innocent email about how to calculate your timesheets CCed to human resources would resolve your workload dilemma.
On the other hand, if he's asked you to be quiet about it, ask yourself why it's so hush-hush - and how desperate he is to keep it that way.
Play your cards right and you could be looking at a win-win here. There are brownie points to be had by doing the work as a favour to him. For maximum impact, act keen, prick his conscience with a few late nights and ham up the martyr act by reminding him what a crucial stage your other projects are at. If the other directors find out about the deceit, it's not your fault - you're just the poor, exploited junior who was only doing their job.
Of course, if it's a big job and you couldn't possibly do it in the office without the other directors noticing, you could make a convincing case for financial remuneration if secrecy is to be assured. Call it a "freelance fee" - blackmail is such an ugly word ...
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