Recently, after putting various pieces together, I came to the realization that I've been doing something very, very wrong at work. So wrong that it might cost the company a lot of money.
Wish I could share more details, but it's too complicated to explain here even if I felt safe doing so.
I don't know what to do about it. I feel increasingly hopeless and helpless. I'm sure I'll be fired and I'm borderline suicidal.
Has anyone else ever been through something like this?
Watch some Little House on the Prairie and you'll realize whatever is going on at work really doesn't make much of a difference to the universe. Put it behind you and move on. You don't live to work. Focus on the joy you find outside of work.
I hope things look up for you soon, op. we all make mistakes. We are human.
The best thing to do is come clean and let the chips fall where they may. I assume what you did was not illegal, or at least not knowingly so. Maybe they will fire you, but the sooner they know what is going on, the better for everyone.
Don't worry about what will happen next. Deal with one issue at a time. It's a big country. There will always be another job.
Do whatever you can to save your ass. Frame someone.
Is there any way to repair what you have done or turn it around? If so try to do it incrementally. If it can't be remedied there are two options. Leave the job before the shit hits the fan, if you have any options to go to. If you can't leave, just stay and face the music when the time comes. I would opt for the first, because you will surely lose your job once it all comes out.
Forgot to say, even though you may be fired, don't even consider harming yourself. People have climbed out of far worse holes. It's a job, not your health, not someone you love.
Generally I find the simplest thing to do is the right thing to do. So go to someone and tell the truth. The company pays you to advance its interests. Realizing a mistake and not disclosing it compounds the error. Bring it to someone's attention. That would be my advice. It may not be the right advice for you. This is a tough one. Don't even talk about suicide. Nothing is worth it. Even if it does cost you your job - which is far from a foregone conclusion, though obviously a possible risk - if it was an honest mistake it was an honest mistake and you can explain it honestly. People still admire, respect and value honesty.
Watch this thread. We can probably crowd source enough different ideas that the right solution will emerge for you. Good luck.
Is that you Barack? I told you not to fuck with social security!
[quote]I feel increasingly hopeless and helpless. I'm sure I'll be fired and I'm borderline suicidal.
Say it after me: IT. IS. ONLY. A. JOB. If you're fired you'll find another. If it is THAT big a deal, then fucking confess already before you make matters any worse - unless you can fix the error without anyone knowing, in which case, do that.
Are you the safety officer for that fertilizer plant in West, Texas?
I once cost my company around $70,000. They knew. They weren't thrilled. They didn't fire me. In fact in subsequent job interviews, whenever they ask the 'give me an example of a time you fucked up' I tell that story, dollar figure included, and that what I learned was I should have spoken up before the money was spent because I believed the whole venture to be a waste from the get go and my bigger failing was not saying so before it was too late.
I told it in my last interview... and got the job.
My point is even if it causes short term pain, it probably won't in the long term.
And like the others: IT.IS.JUST.A.JOB. None of this suicide talk. Seriously.
OP: Were any lives lost as a result of your action? If not, don't feel too bad. Wish I could fuck your pain away.
Are you the reason someone keeps sending us all this fucking ice?
SLAP THEIR FACES! SLAP THEIR FACES VICIOUSLY!!!!
If you can find out why you weren't doing it and can build a reasonable case, do that. Just don't play the blame game too hard. Example: if you were supposed to be documenting or doing something for customer X, and you weren't, why weren't you? Was the person who trained you supposed to show you? Were the training documents not thorough enough? Ask yourself some questions before you go to anyone.
OP, don't draw the situation out and let it fester. That makes it worse and more stressful for you. If there is a manager at your work you feel comfortable talking to, explain that you may have made a costly error. Maybe it will turn out it isn't as bad as you think.
Believe it or not, OP, I have been in the exact same position as You.
Document as much as you can....
QUIT your job
it ain't worth it
Some good advice here OP, mostly by people who care. Imagine that! You know what's right, do it. Tell them the truth and don't wiggle. The instant you decide, you'll feel 100% better at once.
Before they fire you, make sure you take as many paperclips, staples, and Swingline staplers because they come in handy when you are out there living under the interstate bridge unemployed.
Speaking of paper clips, the paper clips we order from purchasing (officially, materials management) come in boxes labelled " trombones." I don't know what they label the boxes of trombones.
Relax OP. This may sound unethical, but it is advice that my father gave me once after I confessed to him that I had majorly effed up at work.
He said, "whatever you do, NEVER EVER come clean and hope that your honesty will persuade your superiors to show leniency. You must follow the 2nd most imperative to "location location location" which happens to be "deny deny deny".
This from a man with unquestionable morals. He went from a basic engineer, to a plant manager(chemical industry) to a project manager, then finally Exec V.P. with a huge company.
He said that once an employee owns up to a fireable offense, managements hands are tied, since all the way up the ladder of importance of position, no one wants to be the one who allowed said offense to be tolerated.
I know exactly how anxious you are feeling. Probably not sleeping too well either?
But the scenario worked for me, and that was the end of it. Of course it wouldn't help for you to create a plausible deniability story in the mean time. Best of luck to you.
Paper clips kind of look like trombones.
R20 Disagee. You can't have unquestionable morals and relative self respect.
Relax OP, just throw out the batch of burned fries and makes sure you get the next batch out of the frier a bit sooner.
[R22] I suppose it depends upon how important it is to the OP to retain his position. In my heart, when he said he was potentially suicidal, I made a judgment call to pass along some potentially
job-saving personal info.
If your use of the words "unquestionable morals" was a shot at me for describing the way my late father lived his life, I meant what I said. He never did anything less than honorable in his life..business or personal.
If you feel that giving advice to a desperate daughter in order to get her out of a mess, I guess you're the kind of person who would testify against your child in court as well.
[quote]makes sure you get the next batch out of the frier a bit sooner.
Make sure to improve your own spelling and grammar the next time you belittle someone else.
Listen to R2.
Come clean to your supervisor and let whatever happens happen. You'll feel 100% relieved and unburdened.
You probably won't be fired. In fact they'll probably be happy that they have an honest employee who can own up to his mistakes.
I had a friend who was in a similar situation. She was screwing up and not doing her job. It was causing her horrible stress and she almost had a breakdown. She called me in tears one evening. She had decided to resign and read me her resignation letter to see if it was OK. I told her to calm down and to talk to her boss first thing in the morning. She did and the boss was great about it. They worked everything out and tried to change things to that my friend was happier at work.
Agree with R6.
Finding a serious problem, pointing it out, and being ready with a solution and willingness to correct it may count for much more than you realize. Point it out, but be ready with a remedy for it.
It may be received simply as "John discovered that we have been doing X all wrong, and says we have to do Y to correct it."
Few organization people work entirely in a vacuum where everything they do is of their design, without any oversight, and solely their responsibility. Even if the responsibility seemingly falls on your shoulders. even if it's "your mistake", you're not the first person to discover that a company is doing some thing in a way that's both wrong and expensive. The more important thing in the broader view is to move to correct things in a timely fashion.
I feel your pain OP. I'm stuck in a shitty job where I am constantly panicking about making mistakes and getting in trouble. I have learned over time that the best course of action is to come clean and repair the damage. Internalizing it all will ruin your life. I wasted six years worrying about stuff that didn't matter.
In a former life, I worked on an internal investigation/ethics team for a pretty large company. We were always much more lenient on people who stepped forward, especially if they weren't willfully doing something wrong.
Employees had a couple of different routes to step forward. First, through their management. If they felt they couldn't trust their management or their management had coerced them into something they could go to HR. Finally, we had an anonymous ethics hotline/website where people could submit information.
As I mentioned before, we were much more lenient if people came forward and would usually help them with a "get well plan." If the employee was willfully stealing or putting us into a situation where we would face legal or compliance issues that could be a different story. Of course, depending on whether or not your company is public and your job role, there could be requirements on reporting issues.
Is that you, Ebenezer?
R24 I considered momentarily the comment might be taken that way, went ahead. I'm sorry, it was not meant so.
OP, you know all those high profile CEOs who have stepped down in recent history because of financial wrong doing at their company? In all of these cases, multiple people should have caught it, but didn't, or didn't report it. Your case is probably no different. Someone else is in charge of you, so ultimately this is their responsibility. You can help them out and unload your burden by telling them sooner rather than later. Or just quit and hope they never come after you.
But as others have said, no one's physical well being is at risk here. No job is ever worth even contemplating suicide over. Ever.
Remove all of the "e" keys from the all of the office keyboards before they fire you.
OP? .... Are you going to update us?
second r20 -- don't mention until its brought up; let them explain; let them talk first, like lawyers say, await discovery.
OP here. Thanks for all the advice. I'm still pretty confused, as it seems like we've got 50/50 confess/deny. But I appreciate it all the same.
If I leave my job can they still come after me?
[quote]Someone else is in charge of you, so ultimately this is their responsibility.
Take both pieces of advice at the same time. Point out what you began investigating. Whatever it was, share it, but frame it as a concern. Whatever it was I am sure it was not wholly designed or conceived or approved by you and you alone - so be sure to include that when you describe the area of inquiry. This way you are alerting them and assigning blame to a higher authority or different dept.
Example: dear sir, I was reviewing line items 200-300 of the budget the art dept assigned me and it seems...
Be sure to not go straight to the end if the problem. Once you email a superior, technically it's their problem. So just give them the first half, wait a day for their response or directive, then send a follow up with more info. This way it's like you and your supervisor (or whoever) are making the same discovery at the same time- which means shared responsibility.
I've quit a few jobs. Not saying I'm necessarily proud but I've always been okay, and found something else..it's easier in a big city too; do you have any side job skills that could tide you over until you find something else? Just be selective about your references. Take it easy OP.
[quote]If I leave my job can they still come after me?
It depends. Have you willfully or knowingly done something illegal or in violation of a company code of ethics that you signed? If you think so, best to talk to a lawyer to truly understand the circumstances.
If you fucked up, but in good faith, what have the got to come after you with? As others have pointed out, you're accountable to somebody and they're responsible for you and up the food chain to the top. Whatever you think you've done it doesn't sound from your posts like you were doing it with knowledge or intention to do harm. So if your actions go to competence, that's not likely actionable.
There is also the factor that if it's a publicly traded company they will want to make whatever's gone wrong go away.
I agree with the other posters you're probably in a stronger position if you take control of the aftermath, rather than waiting to be found out.
I think you should buy an hour of a lawyer's time - outside counsel, not in house - and get some clear advice on what the implications of the situation are and what the best course of action is to protect yourself. It isn't beyond possible that a lawyer could negotiate a discreet exit for you. I'll also bet that even if you're right about the problem and your role in it, you're imagining far worse than is likely to happen. Even if you're not, you'll cope better with impartial, expert advice guiding you on the right step to take.
Stay calm and start taking action to understand the facts of the matter.
I like R37's email advice. I also think you should find any emails that indicate your boss knew what you were doing. Reference those in the new email if it makes sense, or perhaps send a response to the old email detailing your new concern.
OP, if you have a good reputaion at work and are well liked you may survive this. I've seen it happen. Conversely, I've seen people get fired over the smallest things only because someone higher up wanted them gone and looked for excuses to do so.
You made a big goof at work? They'll get over it.
I inadvertently added an "extra" floor on a high rise for some value engineered HVAC loads on my take-offs. I thought I was just being clever and creating some efficient docking structure.
The high rise was and now is icomplete in Taiwan. Needless to say, the firm and the local planning jurisdiction was not amused.
But you know, life goes on and it is now good for a hearty guffaw at the Christmas party.
OP, it is very hard to give you sound advice without specifics ... it is possible that you are being paranoid and the problem isn't THAT bad. After all, you said you "might" have caused the company money; you don't know for sure. So, OK, let's suppose you are correct and you might have screwed up big time. Here are the steps you need to take:
1) If you are suicidal about anything, please talk to a professional doctor, not strangers on the internet. You deserve help if you need it.
2) Accept that you probably will lose your job. Have a good 30-minute cry about it and then decide to be proactive. Update your resume, make sure you're contacts are in order and that you've backed up any files or information from your job that you are allowed to take with you. **Your main objective now is to not get fired for cause.** If you have to leave, let it be a resignation. That will make it MUCH easier to begin your job search.
3) Calm down and think logically. Try to come up with an honest answer as to how you messed up. Did you misunderstand the instructions or policy? Did you make an assumption? Did someone not explain something better? DO NOT attempt the blame game unless you can 100% prove you acted on incorrect information that was provided to you.
4) Come up with the best possible solution you can think of. Even if the solution is "the problem stops today because I've recognized my error", that's better than nothing.
5) Pick the supervisor or manager you feel most comfortable with and who you think will be most likely to at least listen long enough for your explanation without having a tantrum.
6) Request a private meeting as soon as possible. Rehearse what you want to say ahead of time. When you sit down with the supervisor, begin the conversation this way: "Thank you for listening, I have something difficult to explain. I want you to know that I realized I am mostly at fault for what happened and I am prepared to take full responsibility for what happened by resigning my position if there's no other solution". Then explain, as briefly as possible, what the error was, how the error happened and what your suggestions are to resolve it. Finish by apologizing and add that you are very grateful for the opportunities already extended.
At this point, it is in management's hands. But if you've been honest, handled it with class and courage and took ownership of your mistake ... you have a much better chance of getting another chance. If they want you out and you have to resign, then you will be able to leave gracefully, with your dignity intact and possibly with references still possible from colleagues (that's why you don't want to blame anyone!). When you job hunt, you can honestly say you left your last position to seek new opportunities which sounds tons better than "I got fired for a very expenseive mistake that damaged the company".
And finally, I wouldn't worry about the company coming after you unless you stole the money ... in which case you better be prepared to pay it back very quickly.
Everybody Fucks Up.
Heres what you have to do:
Consult a lawyer.
All the other answers are meaningless because they rely upon assumptions which you dont know.
I was kicked out of medical school for coming forwards with something in good faith. Not because of the issue itself, because of people's reactions to it.
You never know how people will react.
It could be good, but it might not be.
If I was your lawyer, I would notify the company about an anonymous complaint, and get protection in writing for your job. Or, I would negotiate an exit strategy or transfer so that they cant fire you for something else, in place of what they already negotiated away. Basically a get out of jail free card for several years.
If the company balks, then the lawyer could up the ante by telling them that they NEED to know about whats going on, and its worth it to them to do whatever it takes to sign an agreement.
At least thats what I would do, based on my experience.
If you want me to handle it, contact me. I take on these kinds of special projects. Or I could give you advice if you give me some specifics.
Whatever happens put it in perspective. A trader cost JP Morgan 4 Billion dollars last year.
Ive f***ed up and made a 1 million dollar mistake with my own personal money, which equalled 100% of my savings.
It really sucks. Chances are your mistake isnt that big, but if it is, at least its not your money.
Nothing is done that can't be fixed. Just tell your boss everything is alright and cool. Maybe, he'll show a little compassion. I've got to get ready for my job
I Certainly haven't done anything illegal. I haven't siphoned money or anything like that. I haven't benefited monetarily or otherwise. Rather, it's something that was overlooked by me and everyone around me. Complicated, but not nefarious. It's what happens when things are ambiguous and training is virtually nonexistent.
Fess up, OP, and run light on the excuses for your error, it makes you look (and feel) like weak. Include your reasoning, sure, but it is far more important for you to be the one who acknowledges your part in whatever this is and to come up with a solution and a reasoned strategy for this not to happen again.
[quote]it's something that was overlooked by me and everyone around me.
Sounds like you could be the hero - if you frame your discovery as something that you found that everyone else had overlooked.
OP, if everyone else overlooked it then you should calm down.
Talk to your boss and take responsibility for the discovery but not the problem itself. Say "I'M" concerned about something "I'VE" discovered that "WE" might not have been doing right and that "WE" haven't caught.
You never know how some people will react to news something has been done wrong all along. They might try to pin it on someone to save themselves. Make sure you're covered, OP.
OP, is your name Mark?
[quote]He never did anything less than honorable in his life..business or personal.
[quote]"whatever you do, NEVER EVER come clean and hope that your honesty will persuade your superiors to show leniency."
Screw being honest to not only your superiors but yourself. Employment (MONEY!) is much more important. Deny personal responsibility to save your skin.
[quote]I guess you're the kind of person who would testify against your child in court as well.
Even if it meant pointing out my potential failures as a parent which caused them to be in trouble in the first place.
Op, you come across as a nice and intelligent guy. I am an attorney and back in my younger days, was a nervous wreck about doing my job. One of my bosses once told me not to worry so much about shit, that if a man had a trailer to live in, cable tv to watch, and a dog to love then the rest is gravy. The point of my saying this-'fess up, you have to live comfortably with the inner you. If you get fired and can't find another good job immediately, work at Walmart for awhile, rent a trailo, and get a dog until you are able to find a better job. This too shall pass.
One other thought-any chance your employer has any type of insurance that would handle the money lost in this instance?
R3 and R7 made me lol
OP, you've been selling burgers in the warming bin past the time limit, haven't you?
I agree with what a lot of other posters said. It sounds like other people missed this mistake and it sounds like you are close to a solution regarding what went wrong and how it can be prevented going forward. So, just tell your supervisor but avoid blaming anyone. Present the problem and the solution.
I worked at a very scary company before that fired people regularly. I missed an SEC filing and emails were circulating between the CEO, my boss, legal, and myself. The CEO wanted answers and berated all of us. I felt terrible. I just walked in there and told him it was my fault and my fault alone and that there's just too much work to do to bother my boss, legal, etc. I was visibly remorseful about it. Nothing happened to me.
Show you care. It demonstrates a professional work ethic. If by some small chance you get fired, I'm sure they'd give you a decent reference because you came forward.
Don't quit. If you get fired, you can at least try to collect unemployment. If you don't, then you're screwed.
I agree with those who say you should come clean and try to come up with a solution to keep your job. You don't want to be out of a job right now. Trust me.
[R45] = worst advice ever. Stay far away from him.
[R57] = you're WRONG. You cannot get unemployment if you're fired for cause. You can only get it if you are laid off. Period.
OP is better off resigning then getting fired.
How will you look in an orange jumpsuit?
Dawn Davenport, Chicklette and Concetta
I would go through all the email and delete anything that could indict you or somehow get you into trouble. Also, if and when you fess up, start crying. Get REALLY emotional because your boss will fucking HATE IT and just usher you out of his office to get yourself together. He'll probably even give you the rest of the day off as long as he's not dealing with a blubbering employee!
If you feel the most comfortable with the coming clean approach, at least follow the steps which any attorney would tell you: don't offer up any more info than you are asked. Keep it focused and to the point
r60 is the worst advice. Especially the deleting email advice. They'll figure that out and pull the back up in about an hour. And it may be a criminal act. It's certainly a firing offence. The bottom line of an employee employer relationship is that you're paid to act in the employer's best interests. Deleting email to cover you ass would violate that expectation and away you'd go... no severance, no reference, no unemployment.
It doesn't sound fatal. See a lawyer.
OP, isn't there someone you could blow at work who could get you out of this pickle?
This entire thread is worthless without facts.
OP - please keep us updated on what you choose to do!
If your mistakes costs the company 100's of millions or a lot of people there money, you should feel bad.
If not, do you have a boss? If you do, it's your boss's fault.
Just quit your job. Never kill yourself over work.