Learning TRENDS by Elliott Masie - May 22, 2012.
#723 - Updates on Learning, Business & Technology.
55,714 Readers - www.masie.com - twitter: emasie - The MASIE Center.
Host of Leadership Design Studio - Las Vegas, June.
Special: Digital Neighbors - Ears & Discretion, Please!
Last week, I spent 3 hours on an Amtrak train listening to a series of senior level job interviews in which corporate and personal information was shared by the passenger in the seat ahead of me, who was talking on his cell phone - oblivious to the setting.
He was a great interviewer, asking good questions and probing the backgrounds of each candidate for this $140K job while detailing not-yet-released corporate information concerning a takeover. He shared his name, his corporate identity and identified the other various high level candidates.
In between each interview, he called his manager, highlighting core problems and opportunities with these candidates and sharing details about the previous role holder.
He also was using the new online wireless on the train to access the resume of each candidate while checking LinkedIn and conducting a broad web search on each applicant. And, if I shifted my seat a little, I could have seen the details on the screen.
I almost tapped him on the shoulder and told him he was being indiscreet. But, as an analyst of the intersection of technology and corporate behavior, it became a fascinating teachable moment for me.
It turned out that I know one of the “C” level officers in his Fortune 100 Company. She would have been shocked to hear that an employee was so indiscreetly behaving on a public train. It might have even led to disciplinary action or even dismissal.
But, I didn’t “turn him in” since this was about more than his behavior: it is a lack of understanding about discretion and privacy as we operate in a global, wirelessly connected environment.
Instead, I am writing this note to our Learning TRENDS readers with a few of my own learnings from this and other similar incidents. Consider adding a few elements of “Digital Discretion” to your employee orientation and corporate culture:
* A Video or Skit about Digital Discretion! Show employees how easy it is to forget that the person behind or ahead of you on a plane, train or walking down the street can hear your conversation or even read your screen. Build awareness of this challenge.
* Look Left - Look Right - Look Ahead - Look Behind! Just as we train our children to stop at the curb and look in both directions before crossing a street, consider offering the same training for our digital employees. When doing work by mobile phone, do a quick 360 scan of your area. Be discreet and considerate.
* Reminder Prompts: Consider adding a digital reminder or a piece of masking tape on a phone or laptop to prompt people to be discreet.
* Every Comment can be Drilled Down Digitally: It took me just 120 seconds to find out a great deal about the noisy neighbor in front of me and to locate online 2 of the candidates he was interviewing.
* Be Discreet: If you are conducting an interview in that situation, you might even preface it by saying that the conversation is occurring in a public setting so there are issues or content items that are not appropriate for this interaction.
As Learning & Training professionals, this is a perfect moment for us to raise awareness around this important behavioral and corporate challenge. Clearly, we will be using mobile devices for work more and more! Clearly, we will see video conferencing, social collaboration and other forms of social connections migrate to our phones and tablets. And, clearly, many of our colleagues will be collaborating in public settings, including 3 hour rides on Amtrak trains. So, how do we work openly with our colleagues but discreetly in public? It’s not hard, but it will not happen without an intervention from the learning and IT worlds.
Did I tell the interviewer (who really did a great job of interviewing, just in the wrong setting) of my observations at the end of the trip? No. I have “erased” his name, company and applicants’ identities from my memory. But I have not erased the lesson I learned:
“Working Digitally in Public Requires Discretion! - Look Left, Look Right, Look Ahead & Look Behind!”
I’d be curious to hear your comments and reactions. Send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org
Yours in learning,
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