Friday, September 5, 2014

What Facebook Can Teach

If your household staff is logged onto Facebook instead of working, you've got bigger problems than social media or smart phones. Don't kill the messenger!

Perhaps one of the most timely organizational development articles I've seen ~ and on a site mostly unrelated to organizational development ~ was from Bobbi Newman of Librarian By Day, who hit the electronic bulletin board nail (almost) squarely on the keystrokes head with her post - written three years ago, yet more timely today than ever - regarding the angst of just about every manager, everywhere, in just about every industry (including domestic service) who has employees spending company time on Facebook instead of the jobs they were actually hired to do: Employers You Don't Have a Facebook Problem - You Have an Employee Problem.

There's a reason your household staff is surfing -
instead of working. What will you learn from it?
I say almost because Bobbi makes reference to web surfing within workplace communities requiring such media, presumably during the course of their official duties need to network with far-flung off-site co-workers, again, presumably on the web and then specifically through social media instead of ordinary business e-mail: 

"In a knowledge worker environment, an employees peers, his knowledge network, are more likely to be across the country than in the office next door."  

Most of domestic service delivery and the "network" needed for domestic staff teams to connect with during the course of a day is, of course, rather localized ~ and even the most laissez-faire styled Household Managers would be hard-pressed to justify the housekeeper, chef, bodyguard, or even him/herself logging onto Facebook on company time (do we really need to spend the day friending the latest luxury marketplace boutiques in order to meet the principals' service expectations?). Yet, still, her article is relevant to us, as it offers a refreshing challenge to those who would simply want to "rule away" the issue instead of digging deeper into the underlying causes of distracted performance. 

As many companies already have created, the omnipresent company electronic media policy turns out to be the latest HR-speak for we can't be bothered to figure out what's actually wrong with either you, your job, or us, and why you are goofing off in response to that, so it's easiest for us to just make another rule of what you better not do... and then everyone assumes they've done their due diligence and the "problem" just magically goes away.  

The problem, as everyone, including those crafting these policies honestly knows, though, but either won't or cannot say, is that Facebook never actually was the problem... it's only one of many distractions available to your household staff - and have been since the beginning of time. The only thing which has changed over the past few years with distractions is now there are simply more of them and with virtually everyone now owning a smart phone, the distractions are more portable and accessible than ever before. Yet, are these distractions ~ of the past, present, or those in the future we cannot yet know about today - the real issue for domestic (or any type of) service productivity?  

So what can Facebook teach Estate Managers?  Well, for starters, what processes, support, systems, stated expectations, and face-to-face leadership is on your estate ~ which can effectively compete with this increasing plethora of distractions now tempting your staff? And what would be standing in your way to implement them ~ and show your staff you care enough about their success for them to engage in a more productive and ethically honest way to spend their time? 

An opportunity for EMs to 
change what their staff "Likes"
Perhaps Facebook is not just "not the problem" as Bobbi would say ~ yet is actually a learning opportunity to know when, and where, and how we are failing our staff (and the Principals) ~ and that changes Facebook from a problem into a teacher ~ the subject not being the employee spending their day on the web, yet the organizational topic of how to change our support and performance management systems ~ and accept the challenge for setting our household staff up for an authentic workplace Like.