by Esther Schindler

If you tell anybody what I’m about to tell you, you’re fired.

Nov 13, 20062 mins
CareersIT Leadership

…in which we discuss hypothetical situations which would never (oh no) occur in the real world… 

The CEO comes into your office, and eases the door shut. In a quiet voice, he says, “If you tell anybody what I’m about to tell you, you’re fired.”

Then, he explains a decision that was made behind closed doors, which is left to you to administer.

It could be anything, really; the underlying question is whether you’re willing to keep your mouth shut. But to give us something specific to chew on — the Board decided that the entire software QA team should be outsourced to, say, India. Your job is to set up the existing QA team to work remotely with “additional staff members” during the transition, but never let on that the QA team in the home office will lose their jobs in 6 months, after the work has been moved elsewhere.

Obviously, this requires that you knowingly lie to your team. That you give them the impression that everything is “just fine” and that why yes, that team lead is up for a promotion next quarter, and that perhaps we will invest in more QA test tools, and, isn’t it groovy that  the team member is buying a house (when you know he’ll be out of work soon and may not be able to make payments)… well, you know the details far better than I do. You also know that from the day they’re told to work remotely with the external team, the existing employees will suspect that their jobs are going away.

 What do you do?

1. Follow the CEO’s orders. That’s how business is done.

2. Argue with the CEO to permit full disclosure to the existing team, so that they can deal explicitly with the emotional issues and do a respectful turnover. (What do you do if you lose the argument?)

3. Say you’ll comply, but intentionally allow company gossip to illuminate the real state of affairs.

4. Nod in agreement. Then, the moment the CEO leaves your office, call a headhunter to find yourself a new position. If they’re willing to lie to other employees, what are they withholding from you?

5. Something else. What? 

To make this exercise more fun… post your answer before you look at anybody else’s replies.