The Essential Checklist For Senior Managers
There comes a day in the
life of many top executives, both in the public
and private sectors, when aspects of professional
conduct within their organisations are exposed
and interpreted by the media and public in an
irrationally negative light.
Entirely normal, routine
and reasonable organisational behaviour seems to
periodically attract accusations such as: fraud,
greed, contempt for financial regulations, a
cavalier disregard for the interests of one or
other sector of society or even a total
avoidance of laws in general.
Most irritating and
perplexing for the poor managers subjected to
such scurrilous and unjust allegations is that
claims are not simply made by the ill-informed,
little people. Ordinary losers cannot, after all,
be expected to understand normal organisational
affairs at a senior level. In addition to these
plebs, simplistic, misinformed and unreasonable
criticisms are frequently levelled by regulatory
bodies, public enquiries, the courts, and
It is of absolutely no use
to respond to such institutions by pointing out
that they are being stupid and pedantic and do
not understand your organisation or the real
world true though this may be, it would
simply provoke further antagonism.
The following checklist has
therefore been devised by those with prior
experience to assist senior executives when they
find themselves in such an unfortunate and
The notes below recommended
key actions and public statements for each stage
of the witch hunt that an unfortunate,
misunderstood top manager might have to endure.
issue first exposed in a manner that cannot be
you are taking the allegations very seriously
*Immediately and strenuously
deny any personal wrongdoing.
*Promise a full internal enquiry.
*If anyone has been obviously
physically harmed or killed, say that safety is
your number one priority.
*Stress that the customer (or
service user or whoever) always comes first.
*Argue that an independent
enquiry is totally unnecessary and that you are
in the best position to identify the factors that
may have led to misunderstandings about the
*Make plans to transfer as much
money as possible to your untraceable, offshore
*Check expiry date of passport.
evidence of the alleged issue has emerged to make
a blanket denial no longer credible:
you are appalled by what has happened and that
you are determined that there should be a full
and transparent process to uncover where mistakes
have been made.
*Welcome any police
investigation, and say that you will cooperate
fully with it.
*Welcome any independent enquiry,
and express certainty that your honesty and
integrity will be vindicated.
*Practise looking sincere in a
mirror before attending any parliamentary
*Behave in relation to all
questioning as if your organisation is a car that
has mysteriously developed a fault. You just
happened to have been driving it at the time, but
you are as amazed and bewildered as any layperson
about what caused the problem.
*Never try to blame anyone else,
however junior, or they will point the finger
back at you. Remember that a lot of your staff
knew exactly what was going on. Continue to adopt,
therefore, the attitude that any alleged
irregularity simply arose in a mysterious,
unexpected way and, as such, blame could never be
*Transfer as much money as
possible to your untraceable, offshore accounts.
*Check extradition arrangements
with the countries to which you might leave in a
the final official judgement on your organisations
behaviour was a deeply humbling experience (the
Murdoch gambit - as it has come to be known).
*Admit that mistakes had been
*State that lessons will be
*Double check that your personal
assets are quite separate from any corporate
funds that may be required to pay fines or
*Keep your head down for a few
months until everyone has forgotten about the
matter or until another innocent colleague
in a different organisation has become the victim
of a similar hysterical feeding frenzy by the
media, the public and official bodies.
4 After the
dust has settled:
*Simply carry on exactly as
before until faced with any new set of scurrilous
and unjust accusations after all, why
should you change your behaviour? You did nothing
at all wrong.