Gini Dietrich

Treat People Like Adults and You’ll Have High Productivity

By: Gini Dietrich | March 28, 2013 | 
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Treat People Like Adults and You'll Have High ProductivityMy dad forwarded me an email yesterday. It was from one of his colleagues who talked about the fact that external websites – including sites they need to access to do their jobs – had been shut down in an effort to “control non-work related web visits.”

If a site is pertinent to one’s job, they have to request an order with the IT department to have it unblocked. Each is considered on a case-by-case basis.

My dad is a 60-year-old man. He’s a grown-up. He has two degrees. He has 40 years of experience. He works with other grown-ups. They do serious work in the healthcare field that is changing modern medicine as we know it.

Sure, there might be some people in the organization who take advantage and spend all day on Facebook (though, if they’re like my team, it might be open all day, but they’re not actually on it), but to punish everyone?

I often run into this same situation when I spend time on the road speaking with business leaders. They think, if no one can access anything online, productivity will increase.

When someone tells me that, especially if I’m in their offices, I’ll pull out my phone and get on a “forbidden” site with them watching, just to prove employees will find a way around their stupid rule.

And it is a stupid rule. It makes me glad my boss doesn’t care where we spend time online as long as we get our work done.

Facebook During the Day

But I am reminded of a time, about five years ago, that I was walking to the ladies room in our office. The energy center – or the group of cubicles where all the interns sat – was on the way so I said hello to them all as I walked by.

As I walked back to my office, I noticed one of the interns was on Facebook – just blatantly out there in the open – at 10:00 in the morning.

I was furious!

How dare she play on Facebook in the middle of the day?

But our managing director said something really important to me. She said, “Gini, she is one of our very best interns. She easily does the job of two people. Are you really going to get mad at her for checking Facebook for 10 minutes during the day?”

Of course she was right and I never said anything to that intern. In fact, it totally changed the way I think.

Treat People Like Adults

If people are spending too much time on non-work related sites, you have a human resources issue. But if productivity is high and people are getting their work done, who the heck cares where they spend time online?

So they check the balance on their checking account or take a brain break on the social networks or grab a quick gift for their nephew while they’re thinking about it. So what?

If people are going to game the system, they’re going to do it no matter what you do to their work computers, just like I demonstrate with my phone in someone’s office.

But most people? Most just want to come to work, do their very best work, have the support and resources they need to do a good job, and go home feeling like they accomplished something.

As it turns out, when treated like adults, most will act that way. But, treat them like children and lo and behold! They act like children.

Would you rather have an office full of adults or one full of children?

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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