My manager is a very good manager, both professionally and personally. He has asked me to do some of his work, such as project management, which I am happy to do.

But he has also asked me to use his credentials to take a mandated exam, so that it appears that he was the one taking the exam. I have already taken the exam myself. I don't like to take it while impersonating him.

How can I tell tell him "No" to that without making him upset or angry.

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    "My manager is a very good manager" + "He wants me to complete his mandate exams" = does not parse. Jan 6, 2015 at 12:11
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    Two relevant details which you haven't given: a) is this in India, the US or where? b) what "mandated exam" is it? an external certification exam? an external academic exam? internal company exam? Does the exam body have a policy against impersonation and do they actually enforce it? Also, in general are your company and dept ethical or not? Who, if anyone, enforces that? HR? Senior management? Noone?
    – smci
    Jan 6, 2015 at 15:35
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    @suhas If he is busy with his project and cannot find time for the company mandated test, he needs to raise a concern with his manager, and not approach his reporting employees to cut corners. I am afraid this doesn't make him look like a "very good manager" as you claim.
    – Masked Man
    Jan 7, 2015 at 8:22
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    @suhas Taking a company-mandated exam is not a "personal thing". A manager who encourages his employees to flout the company policies is not a good manager. You are free to live with your misconceptions though, but rest of the corporate world won't agree with you.
    – Masked Man
    Jan 7, 2015 at 8:42
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    Ask him to make the request in writing. Jan 7, 2015 at 13:21

5 Answers 5


I agree that it's HIS qualifying exams not yours and not the firm's. It is hence his own personal business.

Tell him that you can't do his exams but you'll take on other tasks so that he finds more time to study for his exams.

If he pushes on, tell him that you like him but hey, you wouldn't do it for your own brother. And your own brother wouldn't do it for you either.

If your manager retaliates, then your manager has ethical issues and you probably should consider a transfer. You wouldn't want to be looking over your shoulder and wondering what other unethical demand he'll come up with next.

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    "your manager has ethical issues and you probably should consider a transfer" -- in fact the whole organisation might be sketchy. I don't think this site is well set-up to advise people how to negotiate semi-criminal workplaces, since standards vary so much by organisation and location, and are hard to get good information on because of course crooks aren't terribly open about how they operate. So agreed, consider changing jobs unless you want to follow your manager into being a crook, in which case seek advice elsewhere! Jan 6, 2015 at 16:06
  • @SteveJessop - "the whole organisation might be sketchy" IMO it's not appropriate consider such, based on the behavior of one rogue manager or call it "semi-criminal workplace" based on that, unless there are substantial indications that such a mindset is pervasive in the firm - particularly if it is a large organization. There are always "a few bad apples".
    – Vector
    Jan 7, 2015 at 20:16
  • @Vector: perils of short comments, I skipped some of my working. The organisation might be sketchy. To deal with this the questioner needs to know, so should should consider that and try to figure out whether this kind of thing is normal there. If it is, then the "semi-criminal" stuff applies. We probably can't help other than to say "get out", because it's just too difficult to assess what goes if it is that kind of workplace. Just how sketchy is it, what sanctions would they take against people who object or (in the opposite direction) who go too far into criminality, etc. Jan 8, 2015 at 10:10
  • @SteveJessop - NP. If such a mindset is indeed the company culture, no question a quick exit is recommended. Uggh - I have dealt with some bad environments, but never anything like that (AFAIK...) - it's creepy, regardless.
    – Vector
    Jan 8, 2015 at 18:09

Explain to him that this is (a) unethical and (b) a very bad idea. You likely had to sign an agreement to adhere to an honor policy in this exam, and impersonating someone else definitely violates it. Explain to your manager that if this is found out, you will both lose any credentials you obtained through this exam and that you prefer not to take this risk. (It is possible that you would be hurt worse than him in losing your credential, given that he is the manager - but I wouldn't mention this to him.)

Then start looking for a new job. Your manager is not "very good", neither professionally (as shown by his being willing to cheat on this exam) nor personally (as shown by his being willing to risk your certification). If your manager is willing to cheat to obtain a certification, what else is he cheating and lying about? Get out as soon as possible.

  • 69
    You should really consider this answer. Sadly there are a number of charismatic managers who look and feel like they are entirely on the up and up. Even with this appearance I've seen these sorts of people fired for company theft, use their subordinates as scape goats, and intentionally get people they perceive as "threats" to their position fired. The entire time seeming like great people. I've also seen the manager who appears indifferent day to day and find out they were fighting for my benefit behind the scenes almost daily. You have to ignore the presentation and watch for results. Jan 6, 2015 at 15:32
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    If the OP's employer has an "ethics hotline", he should consider contacting it (the call should be anonymous, my company's service is) and report this event.
    – alroc
    Jan 6, 2015 at 16:03
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    Note that looking for a new job may just mean transferring within the company. This guy may, in fact, be an excellent, manager ... but if he's cutting corners here he's probably doing so elsewhere, and you don't want to get splashed when he goes under.
    – keshlam
    Jan 6, 2015 at 16:20
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    +1 for the honor policy during the exam and explaining the damage done to both parties.
    – Brian
    Jan 6, 2015 at 16:30
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    I would also note that if you do it and it goes fine, you will be the goto person for the next request of this type - and it might well be even more objectionable, and having done the wrong thing in the past will you be able to say no then?
    – BrianH
    Jan 6, 2015 at 17:08

Don't impersonate your manager, even if he asks you.

But he has also asked me to use his credentials to take a mandated exam, so that it appears that he was the one taking the exam.

Your company most certainly has a policy against this kind of impersonation, which means both of you would be violating the company policy. Some companies are also known to perform "compliance auditing" by having a person of authority tempt an employee to violate a policy. If your manager is doing this as part of such an audit, then you would fail the audit.

Moreover, your company has ruled that this exam is mandatory, and letting one person take exams on behalf of multiple people reduces that rule to a farce. The company probably has a good reason for making the exam mandatory, so bypassing that can create problems later. For example, the manager could be deputed to work for a client, and they assume that he has a certain level of competency in this subject, as seen from his score in this exam.

How can I tell tell him "No" to that without making him upset or angry.

This is one of the few scenarios where you should not do what the boss asks. However, you should respond with a "positive No" by not only providing a good reason, but also offering alternatives.

Ask him why he cannot take the test, and suggest ways to help him solve that problem. If he finds the material too hard to follow (due to not having the relevant background, for example), offer to teach him or provide self-study material. If he doesn't find the time to study, offer to take up some of his less critical responsibilities for a few days. If you are not senior enough to do that yourself, suggest that he could consider assigning those to a senior team member.

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    The technical term for asking someone to commit a misdeed and then reprimanding them for doing so, is "entrapment" :-) The police are restricted in how they use it precisely because it's so effective at causing crime that wouldn't otherwise happen. In this case, the fact someone lets their manager tailgate doesn't reveal whether they'd let anyone else do it. But even so people should be aware in a high-security environment that (a) their manager could be sacked at any time and try to get back into the building before all their reports have been told; (b) follow the fricking rules. Jan 6, 2015 at 16:32
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    @SteveJessop You do make a valid point. I posted the anecdote to point out that companies do perform such "surprise audits", not that I agree with its perceived effectiveness. Moreover, if company is secretly looking for an excuse to fire you, failing this silly test puts a trump card in their hand. No amount of arguing "I let my manager in, but I wouldn't have let a stranger in" will help, so it is better to follow the rules and be safe (as you said). Broken windows theory is also relevant.
    – Masked Man
    Jan 6, 2015 at 16:40
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    On the anecdote: It reminds me of various comedy movies/shows where someone insists something like "Promise me that no matter what I say, don't do X, ok? ...ok, now do X. I told you not to that no matter what I say!!!" The only answer is in the future, if your manager asks you to do something they told you not to do, immediately karate chop them in the neck. Gotta nip these problems in the bud.
    – BrianH
    Jan 6, 2015 at 17:11
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    A relative of mine was working as a marshal at an F1 event a number of years ago. He refused access to Bernie Eccelestone for the same ID badge issue and it went down very well in the debrief. tl;dr, following the rules is good for everyone, even if it isn't convenient.
    – Gusdor
    Jan 7, 2015 at 11:43
  • @All This question bumped up to the front page today, and I realized that this answer I wrote some 2.5 years ago was way too pessimistic/paranoid to the current me's liking. I have redone parts of the answer to place less emphasis on the "what if he is trying to trick you" part, and focus on approaching the situation with a more positive mindset.
    – Masked Man
    May 13, 2017 at 18:10

Edit: Please be aware that this answer was for the original question of "Should I do my manager's work for him", which was later edited to "Should I take my manager's exam for him". Obviously this dramatically changes the context of the question.

Short answer: Don't.

He's your manager, his job is to get the project done. Part of that will likely include delegating some of "his" tasks to others, where necessary, in order to keep his time free enough to do the managing.

Unless he's asking you to take on managerial roles (in which case you could quite rightly ask for a promotion if you're doing that job) or something clearly outside your own role, he likely isn't doing anything wrong.

Don't ask whether you're doing "his" work or "your" work - ask if what you're being asked to do fits your role. The important factor isn't whether he was asked to do it personally and is now delegating, the important thing is whether it's suitable for you to complete.

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    It is not about the project work and hence I'm not ready to do that work.He is asking me to complete his mandate exams which I'm not ready to do.
    – suhas
    Jan 6, 2015 at 11:40
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    If he's asking you to take an exam for him, that's a VERY different question to the one you asked
    – Jon Story
    Jan 6, 2015 at 11:45
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    But its his work to complete his mandate, But he is asking me to do it.
    – suhas
    Jan 6, 2015 at 11:47
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    Unfortunately, your answer is out of alignment with the question due to the new info provided by the OP. It's a bummer but you need to restructure your answer. Otherwise, it won't survive moderator review. Jan 6, 2015 at 12:36
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    The unfortunate part is that I get negative reputation due to answering the original question correctly :( I'll be deleting this momentarily though
    – Jon Story
    Jan 6, 2015 at 17:23

Focusing on the approach to take; you need to be aware that there are already stopping points. In the past I have been asked to do something which is against policy or of dubious legality/morals. I have taken the approach that I show the legal situation which prevents me (The paragraph in the Terms of Service or the Employee handbook). I then ask for full written legal protection before I can precede. The employee handbook probably states you are not allowed to logon using someone else's details.

You are not being confrontational, just pointing out facts. I've never once been given the legal protection and therefore have not had to do anything unethical.

Plus you should have a HR person/department which has to act in an anonymous fashion. They could get him to take the test in their work area as part of a random screening.

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