Any time the health of a person, group or organisation is in jeopardy – and after trying unsuccessfully to raise the issue with the boss – it is not only OK to turn in the boss, “it would be an obligation”, said performance expert Antoine Gershel, managing partner at PeopleNRG.com.
“However, in a well-functioning team there will never be a whistle-blower, because in well-functioning, creative teams, whistle-blowing is promoted,” he said.
“I'm not talking about it in the literal sense of going to the public or media with ‘dirty laundry’; I mean a ‘whistle-blower spirit’ that encourages team members to raise their voices when they see things not working as they should or could.”
If your workplace relationships aren’t quite cohesive enough to foster such discussions, then when does it become appropriate to dob in an employee higher up the food chain – especially when doing so may create irreversible tension in your relationship with your boss?
You’ll know when it’s time to go down this road because you’ll be left with no other choice, said Dr Peter Fuda, management consultant and thought leader with The Alignment Partnership (TAP).
“In my experience, whistle-blowing is appropriate when the situation you find yourself in is irretrievable, which may refer to an illegal, unethical or heinous incident, and where attempts at solving the situation through conversation, feedback and all other channels have been exhausted,” he said.
“If you do decide to blow the whistle, focus only on objectively agreeable facts and not on subjective interpretation. In this situation, the person you go to is the person’s boss.”
If you find yourself in the unenviable position of realising your boss is irretrievably in the wrong, your best course of action may not be clear – particularly if you’re wondering, as a HR director, who do you blow the whistle to?