By now, it’s become abundantly clear this train wreck of a presidency is tumbling down. No doubt, we’ve only seen the surface of the disturbing behavior that led to this unmitigated disaster occurring in the White House in the first place. And as the Trump Train goes corralling off the track, trust and believe, it’ll take others out in the process.
But there are career lessons to be learned from this debacle that apply far beyond the boundaries of politics. In fact, it’s a critical lesson that you must know in order to protect yourself today and your career for years to come. If you ever find yourself in a workplace that’s not only toxic but, in fact, may cross the line into unethical or criminal behavior, keep these three tips in mind in order to escape unscathed.
Although at times a flurry of e-mails, memos, and other forms of written communication may seem overwhelming, in professionally precarious situations, they are your friend. So remember, document, document, document, particularly if you’re being asked to do something you know just doesn’t add up.
In those situations, follow up any disturbing conversations immediately with dated notes or memos as a part of your personal record keeping. Also, consider reaching out directly to the person at the center of your concerns. Send an e-mail summarizing the issue that raised red flags for you and inquire about whether or not you misinterpreted the exchange.
Once you’ve created your paper trail, don’t forget to save it beyond your work computer. Back up any written communication you’ve developed either on an external device that you keep away from the office or in your personal cloud drive. Consider too, sending copies to a few trusted friends just to hold on to in case it’s ever needed.
Remember, if you find yourself unceremoniously fired, you will lose access to your hard drive immediately and all information contained therein. Therefore, you must make sure you not only create receipts absolving you from shady activity but that you also keep those receipts safe and sound.
Just Say No
Never forget, there’s a stark difference between a job and a career. And no job—up to and including a stint in the White House—is worth destroying your professional reputation. If you find yourself in a situation where you’re being asked to do something you believe to be unethical or potentially illegal, it’s in those moments that you must resist the pressure to acquiesce and just go along to get along.
Even if saying no means putting your job in jeopardy, know that you’re playing the long game. It’s much easier to find another job than to repair a tattered reputation, or even worse, face a jail sentence.
As soon as it becomes obvious that your workplace is involved in unscrupulous activity, that’s the time to start seeking other opportunities. I don’t care if you’ve been there for two weeks or two years, starting the process of searching for your next must now become your immediate priority. There is nothing to be gained by putting this off and absolutely everything to lose by staying too long.
Remember, to maximize the possibilities for your career, you need to hitch your wagon to a star, not the Titanic.
Dr. Avis is a Career Reinvention Strategist, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Solutionist, and Author of the Award-Winning Book, How Exceptional Black Women Lead. To get career tips delivered straight to your inbox, log on to avisjonesdeweever.com