How would one go about giving feedback to a direct report if they seem to be using their cell phone a lot during work hours? This employee also operated his own business that he took a reduced role in to work in my organization. I often see this employee looking at his phone laying flat on his desk, replying to messages and has his earbuds plugged into the phone and in ear. I feel that this employee is either handling their business related work or personal items while at work.

The difficulty is that there is no direct proof to show the employee and they can say they are not doing this.

acao162's picture

First thought, is using the cell phone directly related to the employee's work?  If there is no business reason to be on the cell phone, then it is obviously not work related.  In my organization, there is no reason other than personal for 90% of staff to be using their cell phone during work hours.  Give correcting feedback and move on.

Second thought, if there is a business reason to be on the phone, is it excessive, compared to other staff and/or results generated?  If so, ask questions, give feedback, move on. 

Third, ear buds strike me as a wholly unprofessional behaviour.  This may be a norm for your business but I don't allow them in ours.  It makes you less responsive to the others. gives the impression you are doing personal things, makes you look like a teenager.  Pick one that suits.

We had a heavy cell phone user in our office.  It took several rounds of feeback and having to point out the excessive use on more than one occasion.  She genuinely didn't realize the amount of time she was spending on personal calls and texts.  Once confronted with some hard data (I watched you texting 16 times in one afteroon), it improved quickly. 

What is your tolerance for personal use of cell phones on company time?  Communicate that and stick to it.