Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Someone Is Always Watching

One of the folks in the leadership program I taught today had never heard a basic workplace truth, “Someone is always watching.”
While you may not see yourself as a leader someone, somewhere is watching how you do what you do…and they’ll try to do the same thing.

Managers who catch people doing things right and offer praise are watched by other managers, their own workers and workers managed by others.

Long ago I knew a guy who owned a small insurance office. It was in one of those glass and steel monsters built all around the Research Triangle in the ‘80s. Once a month he’d select an employee of the month and would wash their car in the parking lot of the office building. You could stand in the parking lot and look up and at the glass walls/windows (I did) and see faces pressed against the windows all the way up. I remember seeing one woman look over at a tall, thin man in a white shirt and black tie. You could see her mouthing the words, “Why don’t you do that for us?” He had a look on his face like he’d smelled something bad.

People who are 15 minutes late coming to work, taking long lunches and leaving a little early each day are watched by coworkers…especially young workers. If you’re wondering why some young workers aren’t showing the workplace values we would like to see look around at the people they are watching.

Unfortunately, when the woman in today’s program told me she’d never heard the “Someone is always watching” line my mind immediately jumped to the fact that a person I trust a lot recently told me that I’d been being a jerk. That’s not exactly the phrasing they meant, but you get the idea.

I immediately realized that someone had been watching.

Someone is always watching. 

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