Editor’s note: Terri Grauer is a consultant and writer specializing in the application of technology to business challenges. “Sanity Check” is a regular weekly feature in LTW.
_______________________________________________________________________________________In recent weeks I wrote about the top level executives and their ‘mantras’ for success and how to impress them when approaching them with technology proposals. This week I am shifting gears to the mainstream population of the workforce and focusing on ‘my people’, the regular working class, cubical sharing, paycheck earning, regular folks who make the organizations run daily.

These are the people who are monitored via surveillance cameras mounted in the ceilings, sniffers on the networks, and someone monitoring their email for porn and spam, all in the name of corporate security.

Organizations spend extreme amounts of money every year on new surveillance and security systems to protect the corporation and its citizens from dangerous elements, internal and external, but they can’t seem to catch the worst offender of all; the goofball in the next cube.

The ‘Bob’ Factor

You know the person I am talking about. Let’s call this screw-up “Bob”. You work with Bob everyday. Unfortunately the ceiling mounted camera never seems to catch Bob on tape when he has two straws stuck up his nose, pretending to be a walrus instead of working on his time sensitive report — which you’ll get stuck finishing tonight after hours in order to meet the deadline.

No, unfortunately, the network sniffer won’t detect the three hours a day Bob spends reading an e-book about making paper airplanes on his computer hard-disk instead of working on the white paper he’s supposed to be writing for submission at the end of the month.
(Which Bob will write on the twenty-ninth and you’ll have to rewrite on the fifth.)

You wonder why ‘management’ doesn’t see how ‘bad’ Bob is really.

Why don’t they fire him already? Why? Why not?

Because Bob is funny, he’s friendly and all they see is this nice guy who can’t quite get things right the first time. If they give Bob another chance, a little more time, he’ll figure it out. In the meantime you end up doing your job and his, all the while resenting the heck out of him, right? Right!

So what can you do? Believe it or not, those are the easy and obvious problems that you can do something about. Keep a list of events with dates and details and report them to your manager, objectively and calmly. The real trouble is when the problems are not so obvious, apparent or easy to report objectively. Like when you and Bob are assigned to work on the same project and Bob is apathetic to the outcome. He doesn’t really put any effort into the result, he only goes through the motions and puts in the bare minimum work to satisfy his end of the workload.

You, on the other hand, spend enormous amounts of time and energy on the project. You take great pride in your work and want the outcome to show how well you have done your job and how well your company has prepared for the event. The event finally occurs and you and Bob are both given great accolades for a superb job; yet all the wind is taken out of your sail because you know Bob got the same recognition you did for doing almost nothing. If you say anything now, you just look like a whiner.

Unfulfilled Promises

One more example. Let’s say Bob offers to handle some number of mundane tasks for you, in order to help you out with your workload. He’s actually aware that you are stressed out and wants to help you (amazing)!

Here’s the problem, Bob never does the things he promises to do. They just slip his mind. In all his daily cores of reading e-books and walrus imitations he just forgot to get around to the things he said he’d do for you. Now who is to blame? You or Bob?

You knew he was unreliable when you gave him the tasks to handle for you and you knew you’d have to ‘manage him’ if you wanted those things to actually get completed. Or is it Bob’s fault because he was so convincing this time when he promised he’d handle them for you, really! Corporations will continue to monitor the activities of employees with all kinds of equipment, that won’t detect the type of “Bob behavior” described above.

Co-workers will continue to have difficulties with other co-workers, as long as we work in close quarters. We will always have a screw-up like “Bob” to deal with in our professional or personal lives, I guarantee it.

I can also guarantee you that the first person to create a ‘crap detector’ that actually works will surpass Bill Gates as the wealthiest person on the planet in a matter of days! I also promise you I’ll be first camped out overnight in line to purchase the “Crap-O-Meter” when it’s available to the public!

Terri Grauer is a consultant and writer specializing in the application of technology to business challenges. She can be reached via email at terrigrauer@hotmail.com