by Alan Royal
May 21 2015
As a manager your management style, activities, and occasional corrective actions used to be largely contained within your company. However, today social media provides a mechanism for both direct and stealth broad-based communication regarding how your employees feel about your management practices. The result, your management practices are subject to public rebuke to not only your subordinates, companywide employees, your upward management, and individuals interested in your company which could become potential employees.
The potential consequences are material. A candidate interviewing with your company could ultimately choose to work for another company citing concerns of having to work for managers with similar management styles as yours. The manner in which your employees interact with you could change, resulting in your ability to effectively manage being compromised. Also, you could be labelled as a troubled manager by your company, impacting your career progression, and resulting in a decrease in your overall management effectiveness.
An initial reaction could be for you to ask your company to more aggressively enforce standard confidentially agreements signed at the time of employment. Also you might speak with your team, admonishing them that disclosing internal matters on social media not being acceptable with a result which could include termination. While, in principle, these actions might seem likely to have a positive result, the reality is that social media offers enough stealth to render these actions futile.
Thus, the most effective solution to negative publicity on social medial lies with your personal practice of management. You have to reinvent your management style such that you get positive employee feedback rather than negative. In essence, you have to consider your interactions as if you have no confidentiality. This, for many managers, requires a material change in management style.
As we reflect on our own personal experiences, we are far more likely to fill out a comment card after interactions resulting in uncertainty, anger, disappointment, etc…On the converse, when we are “satisfied”, we find little motivation to comment. Similarly, when driving, unless someone is driving in an unsafe or endangering manner, we never honk our horns.
This satisfaction paradigm is the essence how managers can avoid the social medial issues described above. Regardless of one’s current management style, reinvention is required when there is any risk that one’s management style might take employees out of their comfort zone regarding their job and associated performance. For employees who are performing within expectations this behavioural change is simple and only often requires positive reinforcement on a periodic basis to validate their performance.
This satisfaction paradigm becomes problematic in dealing with substandard performers. Usually substandard performers represent a small percentage of one-off situations that might hit social media. Additionally, poor performing subordinates are often well recognized by their peers as poor performers often create extra work for the remainder of the team they are working with.
Social media is still a very emergent phenomenon in general; and more specifically as it relates to managers, and how they function in the workplace. With awareness and sensitivity to how social media could impact their management practices, some level of management style modification is almost certainly necessary for many managers.