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Social Notworking? Don’t blame the employee

The Urban Dictionary is a great open-source dictionary of slang.  Today’s word of the day is “Social Notworking.”  This is defined as “The practice of spending time unproductively on social-networking websites, especially when one should be working,” or “When you spend all days at your job on social networking sites such as facebook,myspace and twitter.” This is pretty funny, and doubtless “Social Notworking” occurs in a number of workplaces. However, if this is happening in your workplace, all I ask is that you don’t blame the technology and conclude that the best solution is blocking access to social networking sites. Social Notworking is a managerial problem, not a technology problem. If a salesman spends his day making personal phone calls rather than phoning potential customers, the solution is not to take away the phone. The solution is to make clear what is and is not acceptable behavior and what is expected of the salesperson in terms of performance.  This is equally true of social networking sites.  If a (probably young) employee spends all day socializing on Facebook, make it clear that this is not acceptable.  But if an employee wants to take a five-minute break from routine work a couple of times a day and check out what his or her friends are doing via Facebook, this should not be viewed as a problem. Moreover, if you are the manager, appreciate that Facebook is increasingly used by businesses to keep employees up-to-date in fast-moving workplaces, just as some companies are adopting Twitter for the same purpose.  If you’re perplexed as how this would work, ask your young employees to show you how versatile social networking sites have become.

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