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Should you fudge the numbers? what would you do if your boss (head of the human...

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barbiedot | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted March 26, 2012 at 12:20 PM via web

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Should you fudge the numbers?

what would you do if your boss (head of the human resources) tries to have you deal in a project with 1million budget. and you realized during a thorough review of the proposal, you discovered some assumptions built into the formulas that raised red flags and the proposal was seriously flawed.

Will you stick your principles and refuse to fudge the numbers?

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 26, 2012 at 12:51 PM (Answer #2)

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I think that you should stick to your principles. It will not be good for the company in the long run if they are doing things like this. It should send up red flags for you! If your boss praises you for realizing that there are problems, good. If not, you are probably better off going over his head or going to another company that is more financially secure. As we have learned, fudging always eventually leads to destruction.
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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 26, 2012 at 1:55 PM (Answer #3)

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I think that you need to bring it up with the boss in a way that is not accusatory.  You say something like "when I analyze this, it looks like there are serious problems."  You point them out and then ask for guidance -- ask your boss to explain where you are missing something.  That way you can find out if there are simple mistakes that have occurred or whether you have a real ethical dilemma.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 26, 2012 at 3:45 PM (Answer #4)

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I personally would. I would definitely go back to my line manager and explain my situation, saying that based on the evidence I was unable to continue with the project. If they decided to appoint somebody else, that would be their affair, but I would find it very difficult to continue with such a project as it is. 

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 26, 2012 at 9:01 PM (Answer #5)

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I think it's interesting that all of the posts above advocate honesty and disclosure--and all come from teachers. I wonder how many business majors, politicians and corporate executives would answer in a like manner. I, too, would choose to point out the problem and hope that I would not be forced to make a second decision concerning cover-up.

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e-martin | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 26, 2012 at 10:58 PM (Answer #6)

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If it's possible to find corrections or to create a new proposal and present both the problems and the potential solutions to the boss, we may have a middle ground. 

Being assigned to a project means that certain oversight and management duties  fall to you, I would think, including the responsibility for acting to correct mistakes. 

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wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted March 26, 2012 at 11:13 PM (Answer #7)

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Of course, I'd like to think I would stick to my principles.  In reality, there is another major reason I wouldn't fudge the numbers.  There are always consequences for fudging the numbers.  I think I would be too worried about those consequences catching up to me to lie.  I think I would sleep better at night if I was bumped to another project than if I had to lie about the numbers.

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pacorz | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted March 26, 2012 at 11:32 PM (Answer #8)

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While you should stick to your principles, the way that is done is important. As #3 says, it should not be accusatory. However, you also need to create a good paper trail for your own protection. You can't know if the boss is mistaken or dishonest, and if the latter is the case, you need to protect yourself from backlash within the company and also from possible legal problems. I would advise outlining the issues and your thoughts in writing in as neutral a tone as possible, and documenting the timeline of events. Make sure that you keep a copy of the memo in a secure location where you can get at it if you lose your job. For instance, having your personal lawyer hold a sealed copy of the memo would be ideal.

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted March 26, 2012 at 11:41 PM (Answer #9)

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Post #6 has a great idea. I think that you could handle this problem and show your intelligence and initiative by "fixing" the errors or omissions and then presenting that to the powers that be in the organization. This shows that you are smart enough to catch the mistakes and ethical enough to do what is right.

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 27, 2012 at 2:04 AM (Answer #10)

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If the issue is that assumption built into the analysis skew the data, then that is a little different from outright fraud. Ethically, you should, in good conscience, suggest different ways to look at the data, and how a different set of (presumably more realistic) assumptions might change things. From a practical standpoint, you should document the whole process, which will distance you from any dishonesty on the part of your firm. 

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dano7744 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted May 26, 2012 at 2:01 PM (Answer #11)

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No, I do not think you should 'fudge' the numbers. You should maintain integrity and bring this matter to the attention of the management of the firm. An air of transparency is becoming more and more important in business today especially if the company is publicly traded.

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