Today’s Lesson: Your team talks about you and it is not all pleasant. Get over it.
After overcoming a hefty amount of fear (and continuing to overcome it), I introduced a group chat tool to a team of remote workers. There was some hesitation from the executive team (who “grew up”, so to speak, in the traditional work environment) and I give them credit for embracing their fears and moving forward anyway.
“…But these people don’t talk to each other now. What if they start talking to each other and finding out some of them are paid differently or have special exceptions made?” They already assume not everyone is paid exactly the same and life is not always perfectly fair. As leaders, we are thrusting our heads into the sand and pretending the world does not exist if we really think our employees never talk to each other. (After I enrolled the employees, it turns out a few of them were already using the app anyway!)
“…But what if they say bad stuff about the company? Can we shut them down?” They already say bad stuff about the company (some of them). The difference is, you have no insight at all into what they are saying now. By being involved in the conversation, you might have a chance to correct misinformation or bad attitudes, or prevent both altogether.
“…But what if somebody posts something inappropriate or uses bad language?” How do you handle that now, if someone does the same thing in an email or at a meeting in front of everyone? Why would you do anything different here?
“But… but… but…” But it is time to stop pretending we work in 1950. People will talk, collaborate, and occasionally misbehave whether or not you are watching. At least now, you might have some input. Even if you do not, you are naive to think your people can not lambaste you or your company now on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or their own blogs, or just by texting or emailing their friends. You are plain crazy to think you can isolate them from a world of mass communication. Your choice here is to embrace technology and leverage it to become a better leader/ team/ company or sit idly while your people and your competitors embrace it.
Your people are already talking. The question is, if they are not talking to you, then who are they talking to?