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Ask Dave

Getting Permission For A Side Job

A tempting offer has found its way to Mike. But he wants to be careful to not overstep.

QUESTION: Mike is a sales representative and came across a good opportunity to be an independent rep in another industry in another region. Is it unethical to capitalize on the opportunity if he doesn’t let it interfere with his current job?

ANSWER: The way to answer ethics questions is to reverse them. I would ask from the perspective of the boss. If I was your boss, how would I feel? If I was paying for one of my team members to travel, as well as their food and airline tickets and stuff, I’d expect them to be working for me. The only way to approach it ethically is to ask your boss.

If my team member said they had a side deal going on that was unrelated to what they were doing for me, and it wouldn’t affect what they were doing for me, I’d say it was fine. But if I found out they were working a side deal on my nickel, I probably wouldn’t be too thrilled with that.