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Dealing with Bosses and Coworkers/What to do when your employee chats on computer?

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Question
Dear Sir,

Yesterday I could see that one of my staff chatted on her computer, apparently with her son.

I found it very irritating, but was not sure what to do in this case. Should I send her an email to warn?

Thank you.

Answer
Dear Jason,

Many thanks for writing.

I've had this type of question before, so you're in good company.

Here's the deal. You have to decide which is most important: Whether your employees get their work done, or whether they just fill their time.

In the traditional organization where employees had jobs for life, filling time was more important than productivity. And that approach was accepted by that generation; largely baby-boomers.

But, in the mid-1980s, that all changed. Employers decided that they couldn't give their employees jobs for life. The famous "psychological contract" was broken forever.

Generation X, the children of the baby-boomers learned that employers couldn't be trusted. As a result, a culture developed, first with them and later, through the magic of internet, into an entire workforce of people who stressed getting the job done, rather than how long it took them to do it.

So, at the end of the day, you really have to decide which of the two you want.

Now I can hear you thinking already: Why can't I have both? The short answer is that you can. You can send a warning; but the risk, and it's a real one, is that the employee will remember that you value her time more than what she does. In a word, she'll feel devalued. And that will be the thin edge of the wedge.

By that, I mean, the she will begin to feel dissatisfaction at work. Productivity could actual go down, and you may lose her altogether when the economy improves.

Remember the culture: Employers can't be trusted. That means, I have to look at for me.

I hope this helps. Feel free to write back if you wish.  

Dealing with Bosses and Coworkers

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Dr Bruce Hoag, CPsychol AFBPsS

Expertise

How to retain top talent.
How to make your employees more productive
How to manage people across different cultures
How to make yourself more valuable to your current employer
How to manage your boss
How to become more employable

Experience

Co-wrote (with Professor Cary L Cooper, CBE) Managing Value-Based Organizations: It's Not What You Think, published in 2006.

Organizations
Academy of Management, British Psychological Society

Publications
Leadership & Organization Development Journal, http://www.ezinearticles.com

Education/Credentials
PhD, Organizational Psychology, Manchester Business School

Awards and Honors
Chartered Occupational Psychologist & Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society; Ezines Expert Author

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