The Side Effect of Management No One Wants to Talk About

January 12, 2010

I’ve had this post sitting in my drafts folder for a while now.  One of my new year’s resolutions was to work through or delete draft blog posts.  This one seemed important enough not to delete and it came up in conversation this afternoon.

Ideally we strive for a healthy work/life balance.  We all want to come home at the end of the day, unwind, do our thing and not have to think about work until the next day.  Depending upon your job, acheiving a happy balance is either easy or difficult.  A lot of times when starting a new job it’s very difficult to have a healthy work/life balance, but eventually as you learn the ropes and work gets easier, the scale evens out.

Social networking has thrown a bit of a wrinkle into this equation.  All of us seem to be online 24/7, whether updating our Facebook status, tweeting where we are eating dinner, posting pics of our pets to FriendFeed – whatever your social network of choice – our lives, both professional and personal are available for all to see.  This is both good and bad.

Good:  We can connect with others professionally and personally.  We find people with similar interests.  We feel connected to a larger community.  We can learn from one another.

Bad: As managers our staff can read these updates and posts and while our intent may be one thing, their reading and interpretation of it may be entirely different.  Not. Good.

So what to do?  Do we censor our online selves?  Do we only post off the clock?  Do we nuke our social networking profiles?  My answer to all of these is an emphatic no with a word to the wise:  be mindful.  We don’t need to censor ourselves, but we may need to choose our words more carefully.  We may need to consider the time we are posting.  Does your Facebook status of, “Don’t mind me, my head just imploded” refer to that staff meeting you had an hour ago?  Well, even if it doesn’t your staff may think it does since you posted it after the meeting.  Yes, there are coincidences in life, but most people don’t think of coicidences first, they think the worst case scenario.  Usually the worst case scenario involves you, the manager, being upset at them, the staff.

Our online personas tell a lot about the people we are and what we are doing and thinking.  As a manager, you need to keep that in the back of your mind at all times.  Perception is important and when it goes bad, it is hard to repair.  There is a time and a place to share thoughts and feelings about work, be mindful of what you are sharing and when.

One Response to “The Side Effect of Management No One Wants to Talk About”

  1. Charlie said

    In the past couple years, I’ve been following a rule with work emails: “Write each email as if everyone is going to read it.” Your post just made me realize that Web 2.0 takes that rule and makes it literal — everybody IS going to read your post/status/tweet.

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