As more employees carry mobile devices, often expected to be “on” all hours of the day, and connect with each other across social platforms, managers face new challenges in regards to privacy, transparency and discretion.
Over the past decade, employees have rapidly grown into the mobile/social lifestyle, resulting in their challenging the status quo and sometimes going outside the realm of what has historically been considered acceptable workplace behavior. A recent WSJ article on employees sharing their salary secrets demonstrates how constant connectivity and the blurring line between work and private life has shifted the codex of professionalism for the new generation entering the workforce.
The constant connectivity of social media has redefined the traditional concept of private and public information. Companies may see some sacrifice of the “office filter” as employees demand more transparency. If their wishes are not fulfilled, they may go outside of the hierarchy and exercise their connectedness to obtain the information they want.
Another phenomena is the shift that has made it acceptable in organizations to do things without explicit management sign-off. Instead, many employees seek to use the connectivity of collaborative platforms to work in interdisciplinary constellations to further their objectives.This particular change in behavior can actually be quite positive for organizations, however. Progressive managers are harnessing this breakdown of the traditional organizational hierarchy to nurture innovation and empower employees.
These managers are present in social networks and channels, where employees are active and sharing information. They support team members in taking calculated risks, even if that flies in the face of old school management rules. Rather than attempting to stifle these conversations happening outside of traditional communication channels, smart managers are tapping into the power of their passionate, connected employees and reaping the rewards.
In my Next Generation Management: Grassroots Revolution in Innovation presentation, we explored the evolving manager-team member relationship and the need for managers to allow employees to #DoMore. Managers are learning to relinquish control of information and instead focus on communication and employee enablement. This shift fosters innovation and collaboration, while positioning the manager as a facilitator, rather than a figure of opposition.
How, then, do we transition gracefully to this new model; do we require a new set of rules? Is it a question of attitudes changing, either at the employee or management level? It is clear that transparency must become an organizational priority. Employees are moving on to greater transparency with or without the blessing of management. Smart managers and organizations need not play catch-up, but get ahead of this trend to maximize the benefits to the company.
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