I know I said that I loved the entire post I pointed you to earlier from Stop Blocking, but there’s one line that really resonates outside of this particular issue.
Who died and put CIOs in charge of worker productivity anyway? I’m not sure when supervisors and HR abdicated this responsibility to IT, but IT is simply not qualified to address employee productivity.
It immediately reminded me of something that I hear often from the Manager Tools guys, that there are so few people in management who really understand and work at being a good manager. This task of addressing productivity fell to IT because no one else has any idea of how to address productivity. Actually taking the time to set the expectations to the people who work for you, figuring out how to measure their performance and holding them accountable for meeting the goals you set out for them is quite a bit of work. I know, as a new manager I’m still struggling with figuring out how to do it! So, it’s awfully tempting as management to start blocking things that would cause distraction, as if you could block every potential distraction!
It also reminded me of a post from this past summer about dropping billable hours and how you would measure the work of associates:
“Then how do you know if your associates are working?”
I lean in, like I’m going to let them in on my secret formula.
“By managing them.”
As I look down the list of reasons not to block social media, I’m struck by how many of them fit this very point. If you are effectively managing the people who work for you, they understand the consequences of failing to meet expectations and not being productive, they understand the appropriate ways to interact online, and what sorts of things are frowned upon by the organization. They know better than to disclose confidential information, and they know with certainty what will happen if they do. They understand that being careless with malware will hurt their productivity because they’ll be without their PC while it’s getting cleaned.
As I look back on 20 plus years of working myself, and all of the conversations I have had with others, there’s something that really runs true here. There really aren’t very many good managers. I find that many, not all, managers are in management just because they were the last one standing when others moved on (ed.- he says fully self-aware).
Most people are thrust into management because they’ve been good at a job, and a manager left, so they got the promotion. Not because they showed managerial skills, and they probably weren’t given any managerial training either, they just happened to be good at one thing, so they got the spot. Is it any wonder then, that they surrender responsibilities to the IT Department? They don’t know any other way to deal with the risks of something like social networking. They don’t dare rock the boat by trying to be innovative, because being innovative requires confidence, and people who have never been groomed to be managers, yet find themselves in that position, lack the confidence to do things differently!
Seems to me that, instead of constantly worrying about what your people might do, with any tool, organizations might be better off training their managers to be effective, and innovative. That innovation will trickle down and take care of many of these issues. Right now, we’re not seeing a lot of turnover in many industries, and it may be harder to spot bad management, but I guarantee you, when the economy shows signs of turning around, and people start to feel more confident in their job prospects, you’ll see scores of unhappy, and very talented, people moving elsewhere. Finding quality and innovative management might keep a few of them around.