What An IT Manager Should Do If An Employee Becomes An Online Star

by drjim on December 10, 2015

How are you going to work with them once they are famous?

How are you going to work with them once they are famous?
Image Credit: Gareth

Hello IT manager. I’ve got a quick question for you: who is more famous, you or the members of your team? Most of the time we’d say that we’re more famous, I mean after all we’re managers with IT manager skills and the members of our team are just front line workers. However, now that we’re living in the era of social media, this may have all changed. You just might have a rock star working on your team. What are you going to do about that?

How People Become Famous

Remember back in the day when people actually had to do something noteworthy in order to become famous? Like write a book, star in a movie, or record a hit song? Well welcome to the 21st Century – it has become a lot easier to become famous! It’s a fair bet that the employees that are working on your team have a secret identify: their social media identities. Our IT manager training never taught us how to deal with this. This means that they are using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. to communicate with the outside world. In some cases they can generate a significant following on these social media sites.

A lot of what is going on here is a changing of the guard within the world of IT. You have new, younger employees joining both the department and your team. When they arrive, these new workers are showing up with an existing social media presence. What you need to realize as an IT manager is that they are not going to walk away from what they’ve built in the world of social media just because they’ve joined your firm. They view their social media identity as potentially lasting longer then their time with your firm!

This separate identify is not really your employee’s fault. Instead, some of the responsibility for this new workplace complication has to be laid on the shoulders of the social media giants. LinkedIn and Facebook actively encourage their users to always be building larger and larger networks. The purpose for doing this is so that your workers can share both their professional as well as their personal expertise with the cyber-world. The good news for you as an IT manager is that these social media identities may have a business value. That is, if you can come to an agreement with your team members as to how best to use them.

What You Need To Do About Your Famous Team Members

Having team members who have a well-established social media identify can be both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good because they can say good things about the company and many people will hear them. It’s bad because if they are not careful what they do in their social media environments, they can damage the company.

As an IT manager you need work with the members of you team to make some important decisions. These include deciding if they can Tweet while on the job. Staying up on social media requires constant attention. If your workers are busy maintaining their social profiles, then they’ll have less time to do work for the company. You will need to work with them to set limits on just how much time they spend on social media while at work. You are going to have to clearly identify how much work you want them to accomplish. This will help to prevent other employees from starting to resent the time they spend doing social media related activities.

The value that your employee brings to the worlds of social media has to do with what new and novel information they have to share. A great deal of this information will probably be gleamed from their job. They won’t be responsible for discovering all of the cool things that they’ll be reporting on. You’ll need to work with them and set formal guidelines for attribution. Make sure that everyone gets the credit that they deserve.

What All Of This Means For You

It can be all too easy for IT managers to believe that they are the most famous person in their office because of the title that they have. However, what we all need to realize is that we are now living in the era of social media and there is a good chance that a member of your team may be more famous and have a larger following than you do. As a manager you need to be ready to deal with this.

One critical question that you’ll have to answer with your social media active employee is if they can participate in social media while on the job. If the answer to this question is yes, then you’ll need to come to an agreement on just how much time you’ll permit them to spend doing this kind of activity. Next, what they’ll be talking about in their social media circles was probably learned at work. You need to work out with them how they’ll be making sure that they provide the proper attributes for the things that they share.

We have moved beyond the time that IT managers could hope to control an employee’s social media activities. Instead, what we need to do is to work with the social media active employees and attempt to maximize the benefits of this activity. Think of this as a form of IT team building. Take the time to discover the social media rock stars on your team and make sure that you know how to get the most out of them.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: When interviewing candidates to join your team, should you ask about their social media activities?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

How do you feel about giving performance reviews to the members of your IT team each year? If you are like most of us, these are a big deal – you’ve got a lot of information to communicate and you are going to have to work to say it correctly. Most of us view this review meeting as an opportunity to point out to our team members what they can do better in the upcoming year. However, at a lot of firms we’re being told to change our ways – drop the negativity!

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