There are definitely nights we all come home from work wanting to have a bit of a rant about the latest office politics. And for the vast majority of people, they recognise that this kind of chat is best reserved for their partner or BFF's to discuss face to face rather than taking to the masses via Facebook or Twitter (not least because if you've ever done this and paid attention to those around you, you might have just noticed some eyes glazing over....).But if you're connected with any of your team through social media as many of you might be (read more on our article 'Is it ever a good idea to be Facebook Friends with your Employees' for our take on this...), you might occasionally have a sharp intake of breathe when you spot a post which is less-than-complimentary about your own workplace/ management style or one of your other colleagues.
The obvious thing to say to avoid something like this happening, is to make it clear to everyone joining the business that it's not acceptable (in any instance) to slag off the company and specify that action will be taken should they do so.
But what if you’re too late?
These circumstances present a unique set of challenges. And if you find yourself in this situation, it’s really important that you know exactly what to do to address the problems and get things back on the right track.
Speed is everything and you should take the conversation offline
Take screenshots of the post you've recognised and request that the offending post be removed. Follow it up by scheduling a face to face chat as soon as you can, if this is not possible jump on a call however.
Don’t jump to any assumptions before you’ve got all the information, listen to what they have to say and take action on the situation. Consider the nature of the comments made and their likely impact on your organisation. It would help if you can give examples of what might be classed as 'defamation' and the gravitas that their words could have on your business, staff, customers and clients, before going on to discuss the penalties that may need to be considered. You should also be clear in outlining what is regarded as confidential in the organisation, referring back to any initial employment contracts that may have detailed this.
Make sure you don’t just go through the motions, listen to what they have to say then act with integrity, do not let emotions overcome common sense, keep everything in perspective and do it all in a timely manner. If the remarks have caused offence to other employees within your organisation treat them with respect and take the appropriate action to record their views, any disciplinary measures will need to take this into account and be documented.
Nobody wants to have difficult conversations, as a leader though, it’s your duty.
Send out a reminder to others
You want to get a grip on the situation quickly, treat it with severity but equally keep your cool and don't blow things out of proportion. Just by being proactive and nipping it in the bud can help you get things back on the right track without any hassle or fuss - sometimes examples need to be made but no one wants to lose a good employee if it can be avoided. A simple guideline should be enough to avoid further scenarios cropping up. For example, a company wide note to say, any issues regarding the below should be addressed to HR and not discussed on social media;
- The employee’s own wages and benefits
- Complaints or criticisms about management
- Labor disputes
- Working conditions
- Safety concerns
- Certain situations of harassment in the workplace
- Sensitive political or racial views
Social networking can be an excuse for avoiding face-to-face conversations. Often a quiet word by a line manager can avoid issues that lead to disciplinary and grievance problems. Emails, texts and messaging systems can leave line managers reliant on communicating electronically lead by example, enjoy more face to face conversations or calls, where the correct tone of voice can be heard and miscommunication can be instantly corrected.
If you have concerns about how equipped you are to manage HR policies and procedures, then we can help. We’ll pinpoint any potential issues that are at play in your workplace, and give you practical advice around what you need to do next. theHRhub is the ultimate online HR support service for Startups and SMEs - providing software, templates, expert advice, whitepapers and up to date news and views, straight to your mobile or tablet. It's like having an HR director in your pocket but without the price tag!
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