Humans can be strangely self-destructive creatures. They smoke, drink, drive like lunatics, and take all kinds of crazy risks. And the behavior isn't confined to their leisure time -- they engage in their vices at work as well.
As a manager, you need to keep in the back of your mind that this kind of stuff is going to happen in the office and in the factory. If you manage long enough, you will see it. Guaranteed.
I am no longer surprised by some of the strange and wild things that go on in the work environment. Prostitution, substance abuse, porn, violence and intimidation, it's all out there. I've come to the conclusion that when people think they have the opportunity to engage in this stuff, and they think the chance of being caught is relatively remote (and sometimes, don't seem to be able to stop even if getting caught is likely) it's going to happen.
So how about a few stories to illustrate the point?
At one of my employers, I kept hearing persistent rumors of drug dealing going on out in one of the production areas. Of course, our internal investigations (which were conducted mainly by asking people to confess or tattle on their co-workers) lead nowhere. It wasn't until we teamed up with the police, and put someone in the plant undercover, that we found the evidence of what was going on and had the primary participants arrested. An expanded version of this story is the backdrop for one of my latest novels Empowered, which should release late this year.
I once had a salesman working in my business unit who had a pornography problem. A rather big pornography problem. This came to light when he brought his laptop into the IT department complaining about slow response times. Not surprisingly, the cause of the slow response was huge amount of porn jammed onto the hard drive. I later discovered this was the second incident, the first one had stopped with the IT manager giving him a stern warning. His explanation? "I only watch in on my own time."
Perhaps the most telling example, this situation happened a number of years ago when my employer switched computer systems. As part of the process we replaced the dumb terminals on the production floor with full-blown computers, complete with open access to the world wide web. Within days, the employees in one of the production departments figured out how to log onto the machine anonymously, and surf the internet's plethora of porn sites. We didn't realize what was going on until some genius started printing pictures and posting them (when no one was looking) on some of the bulletin boards. Needless to say, we had to block internet access on all those computers.
People are a mischievous lot, and love to indulge in all kinds of vices. So anticipate it, imagine how company assets could be abused in it's pursuit, and follow your nose. Regardless of your personal opinion about the "rightness" or "wrongness" of indulging in these things, if you allow it to happen under your watch, you're likely to suffer plenty of political damage.
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If you enjoy the ideas presented in my blog posts, then check out my novels. Corporate Thrillers LEVERAGE, INCENTIVIZE, and DELIVERABLES are all based on extensions of my basic experiences in the world of business.