Caught Text Messaging: What to Do Next

Text messaging can be addictive and most employers do not allow you to text at work. If you’ve been caught text messaging, there will be damage control required. The problem with doing things you really shouldn’t do is that it greatly reduces your image with your manager. It can undermine an otherwise good impression, and leave you needing to make up ground to restore your status.

The Damage

Text messaging, however, can have another potentially negative image. Not only does it make you look like you’re not doing your job, it can also make you look pretty dumb to any manager or employer. It’s a “grade school” offense, maybe no big deal of itself, but hardly enhancing your reputation. It’s the sort of thing you should really know better than to do at all.

If you received a lecture from your manager including remarks about “not expecting to have to watch people for things like texting”, that’s exactly the impression the manager has received. The problem now is that the manager doesn’t think you’re taking the job seriously, and definitely doesn’t think you’re trying. 

What’s happened is that you’ve actually disappointed the boss. The text messaging isn’t the issue. You’ve simply reduced your standing compared to everyone else, looking immature or clumsy.

Undoing the Damage

At this stage, you’re making amends for something that shouldn’t have happened in the first place. No medals will be awarded for this, but your credibility with your boss will return to normal. Damage control will take a while and you will need to be serious about restoring your image:

  • Tell the boss you’re sorry, and it won’t happen again. The mere fact this situation happened means you’re at risk of having your life run by your phone.
  • Tell everyone in your social scene to avoid texting during working hours. This includes close friends, who should get the message without needing explanations.
  • If necessary, leave the phone at home; get a spare with a new number for emergencies.
  • Make it very clear on the job that you’ve actually done something about the problem. Even if it seems like an overreaction, you’re preventing further problems, and perhaps giving yourself some peace at work.

Lessons Learned

As a manager or supervisor, you’ll understand the management perspective. As long as the job’s being done properly, nobody’s too worried about texting. It’s when the job’s not being done that the problems occur. The incident should have made a few points very clear to you:

  • Something as unimportant as a text message can severely affect your job.
  • You may not have even known the boss had a good opinion of you, until you sabotaged it.
  •  It took a lot of work to restore your credibility.