Not a day goes by where I don’t see some mention of how companies are blocking access to sites like twitter and facebook. THE HORROR! Social media evangelists will cry out how this is backwards thinking, how these sites are crutial for career management, that it’s a lack of trust, or just downright unfair. But they’re wrong. It’s the fault of both the employees and management themselves. Not some damn website.
In addition to the various web development / WordPress ninja freelance work I do, I’ve also developed somewhat of a niche of doing IT consulting for attorneys. And lately, it’s been the same story. Employees are spending too much time on-line, can I block their access? The answer is yes, and I’m happy to do it. Because it’s not a matter of these companies standing in the way of employee development. They’re attempting to fix a problem. The employees aren’t working. Think about it: if the work was getting done, there’d be no issue. But there’s a breakdown somewhere.
Here’s the dirty secret: the same employees who are on facebook and twitter all day are the ones who used to be on other sites all day, and before that were emailing people all day, and before that chatting on the phone. You see, the employee hasn’t changed at all, just the methods and technologies they use. And for every 1 employee who is using these tools in a productive manner, there are 100 who are filling out useless surveys about their survival chances in a zombie attack or playing Scrabble.
Here’s the other dirty secret: managers are ill-equipped to deal with this. It used to be that they’d just fire the person. But now that’s not all that easy. And many of them now manage people who act the same way they did when they were regular employees. So how do you discipline someone? I certainly don’t have the answer for that. There’s a reason I don’t manage more than 1 person other than myself.
The bottom line? It’s not a technology problem. It’s a human resources problem.