Should You Ban Social Media?

January 19, 2010

Here is an article from Baseline Magazine quoting statistics on banning social media from the workplace;

Do social networking sites serve as useful tools for connecting within the business world, or are they simply time-wasters? More than half of enterprise IT leaders lean toward the latter perspective, according to a new survey conducted amongst 1,400 CIOs by the employment experts at Robert Half Technology

I have to say that I completely and utterly disagree with that perspective.

First, although I don’t like the term social media, that concept of listening to our customers is here to say. Not only is it critical that we listen, but as Nabil Harfoush CIO, SVP Corporate Development at HelpCaster Technologies Inc. states, we need to be willing to act;

True conversations require not only active listening but also a readiness to change your position based on the conversation.

And there certainly is no way to act, if there is no way to listen!

And second, the primary argument used for banning social media is simply fear.

As Baseline wrote, the fear that someone will be wasting their time.


I have a big problem with that generalization.

It is called management people!

If one person in your organization is consistently late; Rather than deal directly with that infraction, management edicts chain everybody at a desk for exact sets of hours.

Or perhaps one individual takes a much to liberal interpretation of the dress code, so again, forget dealing with the infraction, punish everyone though more management edicts.

This is simply poor leadership – it is a failure to deal with the immediate issue. As Margaret Heffernan at FastCompany writes in Ten Habits of Incompetent Managers;

“I know she’s always late, but if I raise the subject, she’ll be hurt.”

Ahh, poor you. Ban or punish using generalization instead of dealing with what is a leadership and staff issue.

Now, feel free to debate creating a Social Networking policy, perhaps you can use an existing acceptable use one. Or maybe, as Michael Hyatt writes, you prefer none at all.

But at the end of the day, if an individual is abusing Facebook at work, deal with it.

Deal with it as an individual infraction.

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