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Wednesday, August 04, 2010



I'm so glad you addressed this issue. Yes, I do believe people should use common sense in posting things on Twitter or FB. But also, companies need to restrain themselves when it comes to infringing their employees' freedom of speech.

Randy Clark

Well said. It always has been and should be common sense to leave it at work! However, it has been, and always will be that people talk, they gossip, they complain about co-workers, superiors, and company policies. A few keep it to themselves, some are toxic, others thrive on drama, and some learn. The reason social network policies and guidelines are needed is that these conversations are not limited to the water cooler anymore!
· The millennial generation understands social networking, but needs to know the work place limits
· Gen Xers are savvy, but may go to far
· Boomers often think of SN as an extension of traditional communication. There are plenty of examples of inappropriate posts.

Last week I was getting a hair cut, listening to a conversation between my stylist and the manager of the salon. It seems a co-worker had complained about her job on facebook without considering she had friended the manager (I know!). The manager completed a corrective action placing the employee on a one-year probation. The activities prohibited obviously included discussing the work place on social media. It also included a one-year moratorium on raises. I asked the manager if there was a social network policy. There was not. The manager defended the action saying the employee should have known better. I have always considered the following before completing a corrective action.
· Are expectations given, are procedures in place?
· Has the team member been competently trained, understands and is able to use the procedures?
· Were there consequences outside of the team member’s control that affected the performance?

If the answer to all of the above is yes – then the employee has decided not to follow policy, and should be disciplined. If the answer is no, in my opinion, it is unfair to discipline the employee. To count on the common sense of others to manage your business is a plan to fail. Although this employee made a very poor decision was it fair and just to take action without any policy, rules, training or discussion before the incident? What do you think?

Amanda Morin

It may sound like a wish-washy stance to take, but I agree with both of you, Katherine and Randy. The journalist in me cringes when I notice companies taking away freedom of speech, but yet I also feel as though if people aren't using common sense or don't know what's appropriate in using that freedom, guidance should be provided to uphold the company's values.

In terms of corrective action (and social media policies in general), I absolutely agree that training and discussion of the possible consequences of "blabbing" on SM needs to happen beforehand, not as an afterthought. In my experience, a lot of companies provide employees with a copy of the policy, require it to be read over and signed and that suffices as notice.

With a generation of employees who have blurry boundaries, perhaps that's not enough. A face-to-face conversation or training accompanied by a copy of the policy might be more effective in driving home the seriousness of the situation and that there WILL be follow-through.

In the circumstance you mention, Randy, in my opinion, the manager should have used the situation as an opportunity. An opportunity to educate employees about what's acceptable and what's not. An opportunity to provide a warning of consequence for future offenses, an opportunity to examine what the salon's stance is on SM and an opportunity to create a policy for the future.

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