Last week I wrote about the message you send to employees when you block access to sites that might be helpful to them on a personal level, that they simply can’t be trusted.
Today, over at Real Lawyers Have Blogs, I spotted Kevin’s similar message about law firms who don’t allow lawyers to blog, “We’re too scared to let our lawyers blog“, in which he links to Liz Strauss and her excellent article about letting your employees blog:
We let employees talk to customers daily – answering email, answering phone call, answering questions at exhibits, and answering letters at the office. We trust what they write on behalf of our company. We once worried in the same way about the telephone and email. Still today any of those customer conversations could be shared internationally or in a court of law.
It comes down to hiring and training employees who make good decisions.
If we trust our ability to choose the right employees and to let them know the values that we hold for our company and our customers, the question of whether we should let them blog falls away as an issue.
I couldn’t agree more, and once more, this extends into the dreaded “time wasting” on the Internet as well. All employees are given a certain level of trust, to do their jobs properly, to interact with coworkers appropriately, to handle sensitive information about the organization, or it’s customers ethically, all of those things require people who can make good, and proper, decisions. Yet when it comes to the Internet, apparently, all that goes right out the window.
It would be like protecting against possible sexual harassment claims by locking all employees in separate rooms and only letting members of the same sex interact with each other. At some point you have to just lay out the expectations, and trust that you’ve hired good people who will do the right thing, and get rid of those who cannot.
I’m somewhat lucky, I was already blogging about technology long before I started working for my current employer, and I made it a point to include links to it in my resume. I didn’t want anyone to be caught by surprise about me being a blogger. It’s a package deal. On the other hand, it’s only been very recently that this site, and the firm I work for, have been connected in a few places. I managed to go 6 years without ever having that, until I went to the ABA Techshow as part of my job, complete with my full firm contact information, and blogged from there.
I don’t begrudge that happening, it was bound to happen sooner or later, and I knew going in there was a good chance it would happen if I tried to be involved in the legal blogosphere instead of staying over on the tech side of things. It’s no biggie, the domain is still under my name, I still make it pretty clear that this is my site, unrelated to the firm I happen to work for, and when I do talk about the work I do, I’m careful to make good decisions about what details I include, and which I leave out. Like I said, I’ve been doing this for almost 7 years now without incident when it comes to workplace problems, I’m pretty good at it.
That being said, I suppose the day will come at one future employer or another, when I have to write a formal disclaimer (or more likely, have one written for me) so that nothing I say here can be misinterpreted as representing my employer. Frankly, I think the fact that you’re reading this from mikemcbrideonline.com makes it pretty clear that this is my site without a disclaimer, but you know how that goes. And when that happens, I’ll wonder why it is that I can be trusted to do some very sensitive work and follow all of the legal ethics rules, but not write a few thoughts on a blog.