Every parent knows the eerie silence that tells you the kids are doing something they shouldn’t. At my house the absence of noise is a dead giveaway that all is not well, and often, the misdeed-in-progress involves a scissors. At various times (and practically under my nose) the kids have cut:
- Their hair
- A sibling’s hair
- A brand new pair of jeans
- A gym shirt required for class
- The cat’s whiskers
- A bedspread
- The expensive helmet for a Halloween costume
Wow, this list is getting depressingly long. On reflection, one of my kids should probably not be allowed to so much as look at a scissors.
In business, that eerie silence could be also be a sign, but any misdeed-in-progress is likely to involve your money. Here are some of the things I’ve seen in businesses that have happened right under the business owner’s nose:
- Skipped payroll tax payments
- “Borrowed” company funds
- Misuse of office equipment, inventory, or supplies
- Unreported harassment or other employee claims that could be a liability
- Employees who are planning to leave (and take key clients with them)
- Favors extended by vendors in return for business
If your intuition tells you something is wrong (and you can’t turn it up yourself) it’s OK to bring in a neutral party to investigate – a human resources professional, CPA, bookkeeper, or perhaps a member of your board. Even if they don’t find a problem, they’re likely to point out some things that will be helpful to your general management of the business. But don’t ignore the eerie silence. Now excuse me while I go confiscate the scissors.
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