Mister Meanor takes over the role this month of offering guidance to vexed readers on 360o appraisals and squaring up with late payers.
Dear Mister Meanor
Our company operates a system of 360o appraisals, which means that I have to provide feedback on my boss. What I have to say is hardly flattering and I am worried that, as my relationship with him is rather cool, he'll work out that any unfavourable comments came from me. What should I do?
Unsure of Ushaw Moor
Firstly, relax - if your company is used to 360o appraisals, you have nothing to worry about. The idea of such an appraisal is to gather as much information from as many sources as possible and then synthesise it into something generic along the lines of, 'In general people thought ...' Thus, even if yours is the only dissenting voice, it will simply form an unattributable part of the broader picture. Moreover, such appraisals often take the form of anonymous questionnaires, in which case you have even less cause for concern.
If the above do not apply and you work in a prehistoric organisation that just happens to have decided that employee feedback is the flavour of the month, you are in an altogether trickier situation. If you alone criticise your manager and he rumbles you, things could become unpleasant; conversely, by pulling your punches, you effectively endorse his behaviour and broaden his power base. It's also worth talking to your colleagues and trying to develop some kind of consensus: if yours is the one discordant voice, why?
Overall, you shouldn't get too concerned. You're probably better off speaking your mind. There's a chance your boss will know it was you, but it's better than making him and the company think he's doing a better job than he is.
Dear Mister Meanor
I supply a company every month. Invariably, the payment - which should take 30 days - arrives some three months later. But last month the company paid the same bill twice - should I cash the second cheque and move myself up the payment chain?
Tempted of Templeton
Tempting, isn't it? Your supplier's regularly remiss with remittance and here's the perfect way to even up the score. But before you fill out that paying-in slip, there are three areas that deserve your careful consideration: these are the legal, commercial and ethical implications of cashing the cheque.
Legally, the money is not yours. You may be able to hold it on deposit (and you should certainly record the fact that the money has accrued), but should you refuse to return it upon demand, the other party could take action to get it back. This is not mitigated by the tardiness of payment. That is a completely separate issue.
Commercially, you're violating the sacred trust that cements business relationships, although that probably doesn't matter. Unless you're dealing with a very small outfit, the deal-makers and accounts department will have so little contact that cashing the second cheque is unlikely to jeopardise a business relationship.
Ethical probity is the greyest area of all. Your supplier may owe you money, yet two wrongs don't make a right. Ultimately, it's a matter of conscience. If you want to sleep the sleep of the good, return the cheque; but if you sleep easy anyway, cash and be damned.