Temps Aren’t Held Accountable?


What would you do?

(Based on a true story!)

You’re a long-term contract worker in a company, hoping to get permanently hired. You’re handed a task to write and post a short article on the company website about several very highly-placed people in your company, and you do.

It turns out you didn’t do that great of a job, grammar all over the place and misspellings galore, including–ack!–misspelling one of those highly-placed person’s names…who unfortunately notices it before anyone else does and calls up your boss in a tizzy.

But you don’t find any of that out until you’re about to leave for the day.

Do you:

  1. Fire your computer back up and fix your mistakes before leaving
  2. Mumble something about being distracted when you wrote it, say you have to leave for an appointment and run
  3. Say you were distracted, leave for an “appointment” but then are seen posting on Facebook about personal stuff when you get home a few minutes later

The person involved chose #3. Not sure that’s so wrong? All it takes is ONE co-worker to see what you’re doing online when you shouldn’t be and you’ve got trouble. And don’t think having privacy set to “Friends of Friends” or even “Friends” is safe, because you never know who knows whom, or who’s looking over somebody else’s shoulder. Or who wants a chance to do you some dirt.

Which is what happened in this case. A co-worker did notice #3, did tell their boss–and the boss involved said that because this person was not a permanent member of the staff, any mistake that person makes falls on the permanent employees.

So wait a minute: Not only do we not have accountability on the part of the contractor, but we don’t have it on the the company’s part either!

There are two things to be learned here:

  • There’s no “only” about being a contractor when you’re putting in the same hours as the permanent employee in the cube next to you. The work you do is real work and it should matter.
  • If contractors or temps aren’t held to the same standard as permanent employees, why have them do the work at all–especially work that’s in the public eye?

Everybody makes mistakes. We may hate it, but it’s how we learn. And you can’t learn if someone is always covering up for you, dusting away all traces of your botched-up job. Or rather, you DO learn something–that the company supports hiring people who get away with doing half-arsed jobs.

And just in case you were wondering, the correct choice above is #1. Why? Because unless you’ve got a truly pressing appointment after work or can get to the issue later the same night, you’d better be invested in making all those angry bosses into happy bosses ASAP. That is, if you want to be more than a contractor with lousy benefits (unless you’re lucky) and little to no job security (ditto)!

What’s been your contracting or temp work experience?

Good Sportsmanship & Your Job


This week I attended my first “Town Hall” at work, a department-wide meeting of the kind that has chairs, a podium, a screen and a complimentary breakfast (yum!), as well as a dial-in number for those who couldn’t make it in person or were in another country.

I’m a contractor at my company, and recently I accepted a permanent position at another company. The big goodbye lunch is planned, the little goodbye lunches are being consumed, and there’s a lot of good-natured jibing for leaving along with congratulations and well-wishes. I’ve been with these people for awhile and have some excellent friends (one of whom I walk with over lunch, another of whom is teaching me Go, among other things), and I’ll miss seeing them every day.

Now, after we all came back up from the meeting, someone who had skipped the meeting asked why I’d gone, because I was not only a contractor, I wasn’t even going to be around for much longer.

He said, “You show far more good sportsmanship than I would.”

And I couldn’t help but think, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Good sportsmanship, sportspeopleship, whatever you want to call it—so I’m leaving soon for another company; so what? Does this mean the work I still have doesn’t matter? Should I sluff off company meetings and doodle my way through team fire drills just because I’m moving on? Because I’m “just” a contractor, should I act like my term is over before it really is?

I say a big fat no. There’s still a job to do while I’m at the company that gave me that job. Even as a contractor, I have the same goals, the same meetings, the same purpose as the permanent employees. And even with a new job on the horizon, this means being mentally as well as physically present. It means being the valuable resource I was when I was first hired.

What’s your definition of “good sportsmanship” when it comes to your job, volunteer service or organization you support? When do you feel you’re going too far above and beyond the written description—or is there no such thing?