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Managers and Management FAQ
I have a feeling my telecommuter - who is a terrific employee - might be working for another company using our equipment. What should I do?

This is an updated version of the old "moonlighting" problem - in fact, one writer referred to it as "sunlighting" because it takes place during the day.

Your response to this must be handled properly, and you might want to consult with your Human Resources staff for assistance. First, ask yourself what evidence or indication you have that the problem exists; if you are not convinced and don't have any proof, you might be better off not mentioning it. Second, check to see what your organization's policy is on outside employment; it's not uncommon for people to have second jobs, but there are usually restrictions on what kind of work they do or who employs them. Last, deal with the telecommuter as you would any other employee with a performance problem; state your concern directly and factually, express your dissatisfaction and inform the employee about possible consequences, then get the employee involved in the discussion.

Performance problems of any kind are more likely to get solved and stay solved if the employee is part of the solution. Managers who impose a solution or who manage by threat or edict may get short-term compliance, but may also lose the employee's long-term commitment.

NOTE: A visitor to the site had an interesting reaction to this answer. Here's what he wrote:

"This appears to be a "conduct problem" rather than a "performance problem." You've suggested that the employee's job performance is satisfactory (a terrific employee) but the problem is in fact the employee's conduct of using company equipment and working for another employer. This should be handled as a violation of company policy which should have been made clear up front and perhaps as a condition of employment. Depending on how seriously the employer considers the conduct, an appropriate response should be taken, up to and including dismissal (assuming that sufficient evidence is found). Conduct problems are not usually handled in the same way as performance problems. Your response in this case is an excellent recommendation for a performance problem but not as appropriate for conduct."

Robert N. Claxton, Ph.D.
Tennessee Department of Personnel

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