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It’s sad when it happens. A leader I work has recently discovered that a trusted executive in his firm has been falsifying expense claims.

It happens. Yes. And it happens with employees who are not necessarily bad people. They slip through a meal or two with their spouse, a gift for a friend or family member, and things escalate.

This particular leader would like to keep his employee; he sees lots of value, lots of potential. All he needs is an assurance that trust becomes a value they can share.

I suggested that he confront the employee with one, single, unarguable transgression. Then, if the employee shows he wishes to make things right and stay with the company, the leader put a couple of years of expense reports on the desk and ask the employee to go through them and make good on anything that was inappropriate.

That’s the test. If he comes clean, give him a chance. Push the Reset button. Move on. (Of course you need to tighten up your expense approval process too.)

This is a time to demonstrate that you make decisions from your company’s stated values and that you expect all team members to do the same. It’s not about creating rules that enforce the values but about reinforcing the behaviours and decisions that flow from them. Sure, you’ll be hesitant with him for a while but you’ll find out a lot about character. Coming through something like this could be great for your firm.

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