Cheating at work, it’s just not cricket…

“Cheating is a choice, not a mistake” - Unknown

The Australian cricket teams ball tampering affair put cheating at the forefront of country’s consciousness. Fallout has seen long-term suspensions, resignations and emotional apologies from each of the chief instigators involved. On one hand, we’re shocked the cheating occurred (they couldn’t be that stupid, could they?), but should we be as cheating happens every day in all forms of life. What responsibility should leaders bare when cheating occurs in the workplace?

Workers intentionally “bend the rules” in various forms at work. Hey, you’ve probably been guilty of doing this yourself from time to time. Examples include:

  • Sneaking out early or arriving late
  • Talking too much with colleagues about non-work related matters
  • Personal phone calls, long lunches etc. 

The above are examples of time wasting, and while that’s true, we cannot ignore the cost involved in the form of lost productivity.

There are also situations where workers and managers unintentionally cheat themselves out of working more effectively. It happens when no action is taken to improve personal productivity despite statements made like” “I'm too busy” or “if only I had more time.”

What becomes apparent is when managers aren’t expert in productivity themselves, they don’t truly understand the levers to pull to manage their direct reports total workload. While they know the key priorities, they have little appreciation of what’s really happening and what to do about it over the general course of a day, week or month. Examples include:

  • Lost time due to inefficiency
  • The level of interruptions
  • The amount of work that needs to be reacted to

What workers and managers are doing here is cheating themselves and their employers out of giving their best work. While it’s not done intentionally, it’s extremely unproductive and wasteful. Workers like this are basically getting “ripped off” because they remain feeling frustrated and unfulfilled. Ramifications can appear small like a missed deadline or bigger if it’s a failed project. However, if left unchecked, this manifests further where ineffective employees can lose their job or market share gradually reduces to the point that the business closes altogether.

It’s the responsibility of leaders to set and maintain standards by providing the skills, culture and environment for their teams to be effective. Don’t let anyone cheat themselves out of performing at their best. Maximising personal productivity is the key to unlocking individual and team success.