Resistance is futile

This past Saturday, the TTC asked the public to stop taking pictures of their employees doing stupid things, like sleeping on duty (AKA getting paid for nothing, aiding and abetting those who seek to avoid paying fares); taking extended coffee breaks in the middle of a route (AKA being disrespectful of passenger time) or texting and driving (AKA committing a crime and taking our lives into their careless hands). They want us to resist the temptation to snap a pic of the offense and instead lodge a complaint the way we always have, via phone. They promise, they’ll take care of it… like they always have… unhuh.

I’ll leave it to others to debate what’s to be done with TTC employees behaving badly and how effective the TTC’s been to date dealing with their miscreants. What’s telling though, is the TTC’s defensive response to a reality that isn’t going away anytime soon – social media. The truth is, it’s easier for me to take a picture with my iPhone and send it to you (or to Twitpic if you’re too hard to contact or take too long to respond) than it is for me to stew in my angry juices until I get home, call you and hope that eventually you’ll do something about it. I get faster and frankly better results when it goes viral. That’s the new reality we live in; pretend it doesn’t exist, ignore it or resist it, and get trampled by your competition who will see the opportunity within.

A number of employers do exactly the same thing when they enact anachronistic social media policies that deny employees access to the tools they use everyday to communicate with each other. Organizations firewall Twitter, Facebook and YouTube because, they say, employees don’t need access to these vehicles to do their jobs. Really? How do you know that for sure?

Other employers are concerned employees will post embarrassing pictures or comments, or worse yet, waste time trolling status updates. Some employees will post embarrassing pictures, and others will waste time trolling status updates. If one employee’s judgement is impaired, like the TTC driver who texts in traffic, is the solution to deny all your employees access? What opportunities are you missing by taking such a draconian, patriarchal approach? What’s the risk in (a) recognizing these tools can be useful, (b) laying out some guidelines for use to minimize side effects, (c) giving everyone access and (d) directly performance managing those who take advantage?

Social media may be a time waster for some, but many others use it to track trends, solicit feedback and create new opportunities. Where you are on this continuum is a good indicator as to whether or not you’re prepared to embrace change or wither on the vine. Will you dance with the genie, or spend all of your time trying to stuff it back in the bottle?