A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem
Admitting a Mistake
Dear Sue: I just discovered that I have been charging long
distance phone calls to my company unknowingly. I call my mother
frequently to make sure she is okay. She lives in town half the year and
out of town the other half. I always call her cell phone and just realized
that because her cell phone is based out of town that I have probably been
charged a fee for all my calls to her.
It never occurred to me that by calling her cell phone I was making a
long distance call, so I always dialed direct when I called from work. But
due to a discussion I had with a friend, I now realize that all of the
calls Iíve made may have cost my company money.
Here is my dilemma: I am not absolutely certain that these calls have
cost money, but I am guessing they have. No one from my company has ever
said anything, so they may or may not even know. Do I say something and
offer to pay for the calls if there has been a fee? This would require
someone going through all of the past phone bills for a couple of years,
which would take a lot of time. Or do I say nothing, but stop the calls?
Part of me thinks that they may not have even noticed my calls and that
the charges are probably minimal, but what if they discovered it somehow
and traced the calls to me?
What should I do? I am tempted to leave well enough alone and not do a
thing except stop making direct calls.
Ė In a quandary
Sue Says: You could do nothing and the chances that you will be
caught probably are minimal, but you wouldnít be asking for advice if you
were okay with leaving things as they are. Besides, you always run the
risk that someone will find out and then what will you do?
You need to determine what you can live with and be comfortable with in
the long term. If you speak up and admit that you have inadvertently made
personal long distance calls, you will probably feel better. In addition,
your employer will most likely respect your honesty. Upon learning about
the charges, there is a good chance that your employer will choose to let
it go and not want to take the time to review old bills or charge you for
the calls, however, be prepared to pay if you are requested to.
You are the one who knows what is you need to do, but keep in mind that
if you do nothing, it will always be in the back of your mind. Once you
deal with it, you will not have to worry about any confrontation with the
issue in the future.
Dear Sue: I am 29 years old and in a stable career. Even though
there is a lot of potential where I am, I see myself being self employed
some day. I've done a lot of research, come up with a great name for a
company, and have had two satisfied clients from my little business on the
side so far.
I really want to start working at my business full time, but am
hesitant to leave my job. Help! What do I do?
Sue Says: You can either take the plunge by quitting your job or
slowly work at your building your own business while you continue to work
at your other job. There are pros and cons to both; if you devote your
time to your business, it will grow faster. However, earning the steady
paycheck that comes from a secure job relieves a lot of stress and may
provide you with some of the resources you need to continue to build your
business and live the lifestyle you are accustomed to.
Your decision needs to be based on how quickly you can support yourself
from your own business and how much you need the security from your other
job. If you decide to wait awhile, you would be wise to set a deadline for
doing so or you risk putting it off forever. You have a dream and a
business idea, and by all means should pursue it. There is rarely a
perfect time to leave a good job, and building a business takes time. When
you can afford to, make the move. If you donít ever give the business and
self-employment a try, you will always wonder what it would have been.
Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She
is author of the newly released
101 Tips for Graduates and
How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her web site at
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