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Winning at Working: All in a Day's Work
by Nan Russell

You may have seen this headline or heard about it on the news: "Sex, Shopping and Gambling All in a Day's Work." It was generated by an Interior Department report, citing compelling numbers from an investigation that discovered one million log entries involving 7700 employees visiting auction, gaming, gambling and sex sites on company time. The article finished with plans being implemented to curb offenses and punish violators.

Employees whose behavior is the equivalent of stealing time, misusing company equipment and breaking trust with untrustworthy or unprofessional behaviors, should have serious repercussions for their choices.

So, don't get me wrong. But I found the sound-bite disturbing, seemingly confirming a belief held by some with executive parking places, that employees can't be trusted. I worked for a company once that viewed internet access as an acceptable risk only for employees with certain titles. As if title alone equals trustworthy behavior. Publicized greed and misdeeds of corporate executives annihilate that theory.

Midway through the story, the article noted that these abuses occurred in a department where 80,000 employees have internet access. Do the math. That means 72,300 employees are using their access responsibly. For over 90% of employees, those behaviors were not "all in a day's work." It seems to me, it's not the rules that need changing here, it's 10% of the people.

Unfortunately, there are people who view company time as personal time, thinking anything goes as long as they don't get caught. They don't feel that policies and regulations apply to them. They look to do the minimum, and in twenty years in management, I met my share.

But I've also met thousands of hardworking, trustworthy, dedicated employees who produced exceptional results, brought work home, held themselves to high standards, and took their work (and the work relationship) seriously. I will attest to the fact that these people are the vast majority. So, it's backwards to write rules, limit sound practices and make short-term decisions with long term business impact around a delinquent few. In my way of thinking, if you can't trust the people you work with, find different people. And if you can't trust the people you work for, change departments or companies.

There's no way to be offering the best of who you are in a work culture that doesn't trust you. Find a workplace that manages to the 90% of trustworthy, hardworking, dedicated employees, and you'll increase your probability of winning at working.

You see, people who are winning at working are self-managed. They look out for the best interests of their companies, clients and coworkers. They give more than what's expected, follow company guidelines, embrace initiatives, offer ideas, improve systems and do what it takes to get results. But then, for people who are winning at working, that's all in a day's work.

(c) 2006 Nan S. Russell. All rights reserved.

Nan Russell may be contacted at

Author of Hitting Your Stride: Your Work, Your Way (Capital Books; January 2008). Host of "Work Matters with Nan Russell" weekly on Nan Russell has spent over twenty years in management, most recently with QVC as a Vice President. Sign up to receive Nan's "Winning at Working" tips and insights at



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