I have an issue with a direct who I have caught working on a web page that is not a property of my company. This was done late on a Friday, after the direct had left for the day, while I was experimenting with ways to track network traffic and reviewing traffic logs.

I have been doing one-on-ones now for about 3 months. I was preparing to start the feedback model based on recent 'casts, but haven't implemented that particular step yet.

I have resolved my issue down to 2 possible outcomes:
1. Meet with the direct and inform him that he is now a 3 month probation and attempt to work with him (coach?) him.
2. Terminate immediately.

Any opinions? I am at a point with this particular direct that I am not convinced that I can salvage anything long term. There have been other minor issues that have been resolved, but nothing of this magnitude.



RichRuh's picture
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You seem pretty adamant. Does your company have a no-exceptions policy against moonlighting or using company equipment for personal use? Is the work of this direct in competition with your company?

Personally, I'd say and do nothing, but then my company isn't so strict on personal use of corporate property.

(This message written on my work laptop)


TomW's picture
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My big questions:
1) was he doing it on work time?
2) does he have any kind of non-compete signed?
3) why is this a big deal to you?

rskelley's picture

The "off-topic" work was done during a workday from 8:30am to 5:30pm, company work hours. Yes, pretty much all day long.

We have nothing against moonlighting if it's done on personal time. Company time belongs to the company. We have a project backlog a mile long and I can't really afford to have someone working, during company time, on a project that doesn't belong to the company and is of no benefit to the company. The direct is at work from 8:30am to 5:30pm.

Personal use of company equipment is not encouraged, but, if done on personal time, is also not strictly discouraged.

TomW's picture
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In that case, I'd treat it like anyone else goofing off on company time. He could just as easily have been shopping for video games, watching ESPN, or talking at the water cooler. None of these actions are things that employees normally find themselves on 3-month probation or terminated for.

The ineffective behavior here is that his work was going undone while he did things that were not work related. There's an ethical issue that he's double dipping here (getting paid by 2 companies for the same time) as well, that's a little harder to counsel someone on.

If it's his first time, then feedback is the answer, though the "here's what happens" part might be pretty severe.

"When you do something other than work for a full day, here's what happens: I debate docking you a day's pay. I even makes me wonder how many times you've done it that I don't know about. If you do this again, it will put your employment here in jeopardy."

At that moment, go back to your desk and document that you talked to him. It's probably your first documentation on the person, and HR usually won't act one just one action (unless he broke the law). Continue to document all of the person's issues (like you should be for all your directs). If he fixes some, then document those as well. The ones he fixes count in his favor. Only the ones he does not fix still count against him. If he's fixed them, you really can't hold them over him anymore. He's improved as you asking him to.

To me, it sounds like you are having a really strong emotional response which is more your issue than your direct's.

bflynn's picture

I'd have to agree. Your responsibility to them is to correct and guide them. You still have responsibility to them, EVEN when you've found them doing something that obviously makes you angry. Is it possible that you're partly angry at having been "fooled"?

Feedback is appropriate. Smile. At least a little. This is a little more serious than wearing inappropriate clothing or bad breath, but in the grand scheme of things, it isn't offense that you go directly to firing over. After all, its not like they were skimming 1/2 cent off every transaction. But you will be looking for it in the future.

Deep breath. Remember that your goal is for them to be effective in their job. If they're not, its your failure.


rskelley's picture

Thanks for your input.

HMac's picture

Don't want to pile on - just put me down as agreeing with Tom and Brian.


rskelley's picture

Again, thanks for the input. I needed the sanity check. That's why I posted.


AManagerTool's picture

One thing I'd like to add if you are not going to fire them. There is nothing wrong with letting them know how much you agonized over whether to fire them or not. Don't do it as a threat, rather as an explaination of one of the possible outcomes that could have been. I have found that honesty is always a good thing, for many reasons.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

One question comes to mind. Have you had any concerns with this direct's performance, has he been delivering on his goals?

You stated that you discovered this when looking at network logs, presumably you hadn't had any concerns previous to this. If his performance has been fine and he has been delivering on his goals and still has capacity to put in a full day on non-work work, perhaps you need to look at goals that will stretch him more. If the work your team currently has isn't sufficient to keep them busy (and this is a regular thing) then maybe it's an opportunity to take on more work, be more productive and generally improve the profile of your team in the company.

Also, how sure are you that he did spend all day on this web page project? A couple of years ago I represented someone who had been accused of spending a few hours on a non-work website. Management had based their case on the fact that the web access logs showed that he had accessed the site at 11:00 then there were no other logs for him until around 15:00. What had actually happened was he had accessed the site at 11:00 whilst waiting to go into a meeting, had the meeting, gone to lunch, come back from lunch, completed his actions from the meeting (which didn't involve accessing the web) then at around 15:00 gone back on the web.