Is He A Genius… Or An Unscrupulous Thief?

Last week I shared an article on my Facebook from Entrepreneur magazine about a network engineer who secretly worked 3 full-time IT jobs, without his employers’ consent or knowledge, because he was allowed to work from home. I pointed out that this is just one of the reasons why so many businesses are instituting a return-to-office mandate, and added that this guy is NOT a hero but a thief who is stealing from his employers and should be fired immediately, along with the managers in charge of him for allowing this to happen.

Of course, this started a war on my Facebook page with one end of the spectrum saying he’s a genius who should be applauded for his ingenuity (mostly employees or self-employed people who’ve never managed a profitable, productive team on their own without adult supervision), and at the other end, nearly all the business owners, who actually know what it’s like to make a payroll, agreeing with me that this is grossly dishonest and unethical.

So, let me pull on this thread a minute…

The first argument was that employees should be allowed to work as many jobs as they like. I don’t disagree, PROVIDED that 1) they do it outside the hours they are supposed to be working for me that I’m paying for, and 2) they aren’t doing a competitive job where trade secrets, client lists and other confidential information can be shared.

The article doesn’t specify whether he had a noncompete or other details of his employment agreements, other than they were full-time and he was paid over 6 figures for each. It DOES say he did this “without his employers knowing.” He also wanted to be anonymous in the article. That screams dishonesty because it is. In many states, non-compete contracts are 100% legal and enforceable while someone’s employed by a company. As an employee, you have access to confidential information that you do not want to be freely given to a competitor, nor do you want someone under your tent that you’re paying to be working for the enemy. That’s not an unreasonable ask, and the law supports it (at least in Tennessee). 

Further, all employees are paid to deliver work product of some kind. If they are trying to hold 2 other FULL-TIME jobs while working a full-time job for me, their work product is undoubtedly going to be delivered later than it could be delivered, at a lesser quality than they could, or both. No intelligent, reasonable person would argue otherwise. That’s why employers have people FULL-TIME.

We want their undivided attention so we can secure maximum productivity and quality of work – and we PAY THEM for that in salary, taxes and other benefits provided. That IS the agreement when you hire someone full-time that the employee voluntarily and willingly agrees to. If I want less than a 40-hour full-time commitment, I hire someone part-time for the 4 or 5 hours of work I need done and won’t complain if they have other jobs. In this scenario, he’s grossly abusing his employers because full-time is 40 hours.

Furthermore, some jobs are full-time because we need that person to be at the ready, available in a moment’s notice. The medical doctor hired to be at a game and sit on the bench, at the ready, in case someone gets injured is getting paid to be available at any point during the game. Even if he never gets his sweet cheeks off the bench because no one gets injured, he’s getting paid to be there and pay attention.

Should he be allowed to sit there and run a part-time hustle because he’s not required to do any “actual” work the entire time he’s there? Obviously not. If he’s a good member of the team, he might be consulting the players when warming up or stretching, maybe assisting them to tape mild injuries or perform other therapeutic treatments prior to them going on the field or during breaks. He should be watching the game to see how each athlete is performing, looking for weaknesses and problems and see if an injury occurs.

Another argument on my Facebook feed was that “if it’s salary-based, not hourly work, then there’s no problem.” Really? No problem putting in “4 to 5 hours a week of actual work” when you’re being paid for 40, and doing it without the knowledge of your employer? I can’t tell from the article, but I would be willing to bet he wasn’t doing ALL the work he was hired to do for ALL 3 employers, but the bare minimum to go unnoticed and not get fired, taking advantage of the fact that the people who hired him were irresponsible idiots. I would bet he had a backlog of projects and tasks he was simply not doing.

Years ago, at a company I worked for as a sales rep, our department was given a sales support admin who was supposed to be processing inbound leads that were responding by phone, fax and direct mail by entering them into our CRM and distributing the leads to the sales team. We knew she had a side hustle selling Herbalife.

We also knew she wasn’t setting the world on fire with her performance but appeared to be doing her job just enough to not get fired. When she finally quit and we were cleaning out her desk, we discovered we couldn’t even open her desk drawers because they were stuffed to the brim with inbound leads that had come in that she hadn’t touched. I was furious, and she wasn’t even reporting to me. THIS is flat-out unethical, dishonest and THEFT.

EVERY one of you running a company, big or small, has had a situation where someone on the team quits (or you fire them) and you discover a SWATH of neglect and unfinished business, things the employee was allowing to go on or failing to do that was specifically part of their job and, if they were honest, should have been doing. It’s infuriating as an employer because we paid for them to do that work, and they didn’t, simply because they could get away with it.

Fundamentally, an employee is a “rented asset.” I am buying X hours a week/month/year from them with the expectation of a work product being produced and delivered. Businesses need to have profitable, productive employees or they lose money, lose customers and risk going out of business. Employees understand this, and business owners and managers ought to know this (although some are too stupid to run a kids’ kickball game, much less a multimillion-dollar company or division).

If you fall on the side of thinking this guy is a hero and genius, then I’d suggest you hire him and pay $120K for 4 hours a week, or $577 per hour. Go on. Hand out t-shirts that say, “Tim Ferris Was Right!” and start a movement. Good luck not going broke.  

The biggest takeaway from this from my business owner colleagues is INspect what you EXpect. If you hire or manage people, you MUST give them job scorecards that detail the results, performance and work responsibilities expected of them – then manage them and review their work frequently to ensure it’s being done right (or being done at all). If you expect 40 hours, make sure you’re getting 40 hours of actual work product. Deadlines, performance standards and output all need to be managed IF you are going to have a profitable business.

If you don’t, you put every investment and hard-won advantage in peril. Every customer you acquire is put at risk of loss. Every brilliantly executed idea, every painstakingly implemented plan, every excellent marketing strategy is either reduced in value or completely destroyed – and YOU pay the price.

If you’re an owner of an MSP or IT services business, who wants a proven blueprint to get more high-value and appreciative clients WITHOUT discounting or doing all the quoting, closing and prospecting work yourself, you MUST attend our 2-day MSP Sales Roadshow. Click below for all the details and to register.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
There’s no doubt about it: Robin Robins has helped more MSPs and IT services companies to grow and prosper, liberating them from stagnation, frustration, drudgery and low incomes. For over 20 years, Robin has been showing MSPs and IT services firms how to implement marketing plans that attract higher-quality clients, lock in recurring revenue streams and secure high-profit contracts. Her methods have been used by over 10,000 IT services firms around the world, from start-ups to multimillion-dollar MSPs. For more information and a FREE copy of The MSP’s Ultimate Guide To IT Services Marketing And Lead Generation, go to https://www.technologymarketingtoolkit.com

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