Managing the boss
Getting past the oops moment: The boss factor
By Donna Rosato, MONEY Magazine staff writer

NEW YORK (MONEY Magazine) - Your boss stops by to check on a project you're late on and catches you shopping online.

Say you needed a five-minute head clearer. That's kind of legit. He might not believe you, but most bosses aren't likely to go ballistic on a first offense.

Keep in mind that even if he doesn't catch you, your company might. Nearly 80 percent of companies keep tabs on employees by tracking Internet connections, and 55 percent retain and review e-mail messages, according to the American Management Association. A quarter of companies have fired workers for misusing the Internet, the survey found.

You probably won't get canned for a quick eBay session, but habitual shopping could warrant a talking-to.

Saying you needed a 45-minute head clearer, however, might not fly.

Your boss asks you who's responsible for a mistake and you know who it is. Do you rat out a colleague?

Say you don't know but you'll find out. Then tell the culprit that the boss is onto him and suggest that he come forward. Point out that you're in an awkward position because you know the boss is going to press you.

Focus on a solution. Darnell Lattal, a psychologist and the author of "Ethics at Work," advises redirecting the question by saying, "I'm not sure, but I'm happy to help you figure out how to fix this." Then you look proactive and don't have to be a snitch.

You fax your rsum to a prospective employer from work and your boss finds it.

Seize the moment. Once you get over the initial stammering and hot flashes, level with your boss. If you're unhappy with your job, say so. Tell him what is so unsatisfactory about your current gig that you went looking for something better.

Try this: "Okay, you got me. But I'd rather not leave. Can we talk about making some changes that would be mutually beneficial?"

Watch it. Says Sickel, the hotel marketing executive: "As a manager, I can't fault someone for being career-minded. But I would coach them on what's appropriate at work."

In other words: Next time, Ace, go to Kinko's.

How to deal with:

Public speaking gaffes, the boss factor, interview irregularities, adventures in e-mail and eating on the job. Top of page

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