Writing about pornography is a risky proposition. I don’t want to sound Puritanical nor do I want to sound cavalier about Internet usage. Individuals can and should exercise their own discretion and judgment about what is appropriate behavior given any circumstance.
However, I witnessed an incident and learned of another that made me pause to write about the forbidden subject. Recognize, too, that I have built a writing career suggesting that people should always exercise good judgment and stop doing stupid stuff. The well never runs dry.
The first incident in question happened on a shuttle bus at an airport. I was a weary traveler finally reaching my destination and catching a shuttle bus was not something I wanted to do. Nonetheless, I joined the parade to the loading area. As the bus was loading, the bus driver sat behind the steering wheel waiting nonchalantly and looking at his phone. The bus was jammed and several of us were shoved to the front, right behind the driver. As I inadvertently looked over his shoulder I couldn’t help but notice that he was looking at pornography. It was difficult to miss the action. Several other customers who caught the glimpse of the show rolled their eyes.When the bus was finally full, he turned off his phone, put the bus in gear and took off and we all wondered how distracted the driver was.
The second incident happened in a sea of cubicles late one night. A young analyst for a consulting firm was bored and needed a break. Rather than get up to a get a soda, he went to the Internet to explore the world of on-line sex. He should have gone to the vending machine area for that soda. Every organization monitors Internet usage and who visits certain sites will get a lot of attention. The analyst was terminated the next day. His claim that he was just doing “research” didn’t fly.
Yikes. How you spend time outside of work is your business. How you spend your time while at work is the business of lots of others including co-workers, customers, clients and your employer. If you need a reminder, the on-line monitoring and video cameras all around the office are a good place to start.
Employee manuals that I have seen don’t always have sections on viewing pornography. But all manuals have sections on exercising judgment and doing what is right for the customer and viewing pornography while at work is never a good thing. The sentence, “DON’T WATCH PORNOGRAPHY WHILE AT WORK” is in the white space of the employee manual in all caps.
It is not my intent to be judgmental about pornography. It is my intent to coach you into using good judgment so that you keep your job.
Setting and meeting goals is your friend. Flawless execution is your friend. Developing healthy relationships with colleagues is your friend. There are lots of friends to make at work.
Pornography is not your friend.
The following is a list of things you can complain about at work. It is not comprehensive but will cover a lot of the territory that I usually hear about. Take a slow read and ask yourself, “Have I ever complained about…
- The insensitive boss
- The long commute
- The irritating co-worker
- The food in the break room
- The slow computer network
- The health benefits
- The stress
- The customers
- The hours
- The smell of reheated burritos
- The temperature in the office
- The empty red licorice bucket
- The construction noise outside
- The distance to the parking lot
- The compensation of executives
- The work on weekends
- The people in IT
- The new crop of MBAs
- Sexual harassment training
- The workload
- The travel requirements
- The airlines
- The expense report forms
- Take your child to work day
- The lack of time for planning
- The co-workers who complain
- The uncomfortable chairs
- The people in HR
- The slow elevator
- The security people at the front desk
- The quality of the coffee
- The clueless interns
- The quality of the toilet paper in the lavatory
- The “others” who get all the attention
- The company travel policy
- The Monday staff meetings
- The performance review forms
- The lack of communications
- The office morale
- The printer always out of paper
- The people who constantly complain.
Any sound familiar? I suspect that some of the complaints can be heard on any given day in any office in the world. Guess what? No one cares much about complaints. Complaining doesn’t build relationships. Complaining creates a barrier — no one wants to talk to a constant complainer.
When it comes to job satisfaction, research shows that the friends we make and the relationships that we build improve satisfaction. It’s a no brainer, if you want to have healthy relationships at work, don’t complain.
If you are in a terrible situation at work, you have three options:
Option one: As is. For whatever the reasons might be, you need to keep the job. Stop complaining about it and look for good things.
Option two: Put a plan together to find a new job. Set a deadline and begin the process knowing that it may take a while. In the meantime, don’t complain. Your co-workers might need to be a reference.
Option three: Quit. Now there are no more reasons to complain about the job. Don’t find new ones.
Complaining is not your friend.
I was a junior partner at a big consulting firm. The team was meeting with the CEO of a large bank and we were making the pitch for new business. We had our big PowerPoint presentation ready to go. The presentation was full of Gantt Charts, flow diagrams, Venn Diagrams, and all other manner of models. The deck might have included flux capacitors. We were ready to explore assessment, analysis, and recommendations. Before we could even turn the projector on, the CEO stopped us and said…
“I have a question for you. I know you are all smart and can make lots of recommendations based on your analysis, so here is my question: Why don’t poor people have bank accounts?”
At first, I thought it was a trick question to throw us off before the real presentation. But it wasn’t. I thought to myself, “They don’t have bank accounts because they don’t have any money”. I never said it out loud and I was glad I didn’t.
The bank CEO continued, “I don’t need to see your PowerPoint, I am sure it is fine. Go see if you can find some good answers to my simple question.” And with that, off we went.
At this point in the post, I could go into all kinds of analytical tools that we used to come up with answers but that doesn’t matter. And there are many factors that are part of the equation including cultural background, geography, race, and education to name a few. But the biggest finding and the one that matters most is that the simple question had a simple answer. The answer is, poor people don’t have bank accounts because they don’t or won’t go into banks.
Yep, at the time, poor people did not go into banks because the facilities, the locations, the staff, the parking, the forms were all just too intimidating for a person with modest means. The CEO who asked the original question had a suspicion that was the case and we validated it. The solution? Open bank branches in “other” spaces like in grocery stores or other retail outlets. And poor people opened bank accounts.
I am not taking credit for disrupting the banking industry. I am bringing attention to two key points:
- First, never make broad assumptions about any group of people. The banking industry had made assumptions that people with modest means did not want or need a bank. It was incorrect. Everyone wants and needs credit cards and checking and savings accounts and the like. So ask yourself, is your organization making broad assumptions about customers or employees or partners? You may be surprised.
- Second, the really basic organizational questions need to be posed constantly. Questions like: Is there a better way to do what we have been doing for so long? Can we disrupt our own business? Can we change this ingrained culture? Can we get our people to change? Can we serve customers better? Again, you may be surprised.
The world is full of stories of positive changes that occurred when people asked the most basic questions and created challenges. Ask more questions.