Cornering a Rat

Confront a dishonest person with the evidence of their errant actions, and you're likely to get some pretty wild reactions.  Frequently it is "deny, deny, deny," but I've also had employees fabricate wild lies or engage in elaborate cover-ups.

Oddly, I've never had anyone beg for mercy or ask for forgiveness -- despite what you might read in fiction.  I believe this is because, as reasonably intelligent (although perhaps immoral) people, the "bad actors" have already considered the consequences of their chosen path and have alternatives in mind.  Perhaps if they were to become so badly cornered that there was no alternative to begging, they would.  In practice I've never seen anything remotely resembling that actually occur.

The one thing you can depend upon when a "rat" is cornered is the unexpected.  Throughout my career I've repeatedly been surprised by the lengths some of these folks will go to in an attempt to cover their tracks.

Take the licensee I worked with in the Middle East as an example.  When the general manager of this business decided there was no way he could renew his agreement with us (we were refusing to allow further expansion of his territory), he decided to duplicate all our engineering drawings using his own letterhead, and put stickers over electronic panels he still had in stock, covering our logo.  When confronted with this subterfuge, he fabricated a letter that supposedly implicated one of our employees in an illegal trading scheme.  The fact that this would have also caused legal problems for one of his board members never seemed to slow him down -- he knew what he wanted, and would do whatever was necessary to get (steal) it.

In another incident, an HR manager working directly for me faked a raise for himself.  He forged my signature on the appropriate form (probably lifted it off of another page), and then approved the raise himself.  When caught he developed an elaborate story which involved a fake group of "militant" employees who were manipulating our payroll system to...well, I could never quite understand what the objective of the manipulation was supposed to be.  Not surprisingly he was fired, but not until we completed a detailed (and expensive) investigation.

Another employee who quit to go to a competitor was confronted with proof he had stolen file after file of sensitive data, and had clear intent to use this material in his new job.  He returned the original media to us, and claimed that bringing the materials to his home less than seven days before he resigned was "just an oversight."  I had to take that one to court.

In another bizarre incident, the second in command of a distributor we were courting decided to quit and open his own competing business.  Rather than admitting the truth, however, he spread an elaborate story involving an affair and a sudden move out of town.  I guess he wanted to buy some time before we figured out what he was really up to.  He managed to gain four days before we knew pretty much everything.

Once cornered, the rat may engage in all kinds of strange and disturbing behaviors.  I've experienced denials, lies, attempted blackmail (without basis), theft, and even lawsuits -- both "real" and ones based on fabricated "evidence."  The trick to managing your own "rat confrontation" is to be prepared for almost anything.  Make sure you know your options are for dealing with any imaginable crazy behavior before any confrontation is ever initiated.  While this won't completely prevent fallout, it will at least minimize the damage it might cause.  15.5

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Novels: LEVERAGEINCENTIVIZEDELIVERABLES and now HEIR APPARENT (published 3/2/2013) -- note, the Kindle version of DELIVERABLES (a prequel to HEIR APPARENT) is on sale for a limited time for $2.99.

It doesn't matter if you are a political power player, or an observer just trying to stay out of the way, you need to understand the politics of your organization and how to cope with it.  This book will give you practical advice to do just that.

It doesn't matter if you are a political power player, or an observer just trying to stay out of the way, you need to understand the politics of your organization and how to cope with it.  This book will give you practical advice to do just that.

Shown here is the cover of NAVIGATING CORPORATE POLITICS  my non-fiction primer on the nature of politics in large corporations, and the management of your career in such an environment.

My novels are based on extensions of my 27 years of personal experience as a senior manager in public corporations.  Most were inspired by real events.