GM’s bad words: This is what happens when leaders listen ONLY to their lawyers

Part of GM's presentation on banned wordsOn his new HBO show on Sunday, comedian John Oliver excoriated GM over its current recall crisis. CEO Mary Barra’s optimism that GM’s difficulties will result in a better, stronger company, Oliver said, must mean that the 13 people the company acknowledges were killed as a direct result of vehicle defects are actually a good thing.

Among the issues Oliver raised was a list of words employees were told to avoid using. The list, which were part of a 2008 presentation to employees on how to communicate with each other about safety issues, included deathtrap, widowmaker, and rolling sarcophagus. In all, there were 68 words and phrases… Read More »

The four core elements of your employee social media policy that may be illegal

Why you may need to trash your social media policyA study from Proskauer, a business-focused law firm, revealed that companies routinely take action against employees for their behavior in social media channels, even when it’s their own account used on their own devices on their own time.

While the infractions that led to the disciplinary action may have been consistent with the companies’ social media policies, they could be illegal. It’s time for companies to revisit their social media policies.

According to the Proskauer report, more than 70% of companies reported taking disciplinary measures over misuse of confidential information (80%), misrepresentation of the company’s views… Read More »

Friday Wrap #98: The end for Google+?, geotargeted ads on Reddit, Facebook rocks on Fridays

Friday WrapBig news has flown fast and furious this week, led by the FCC’s decision to turn its back on Net neutrality and support a “fast lane” for companies willing to pay for it. With all that, it’s even easier to miss some posts, stories and studies that could be useful. That’s why I produce the Friday Wrap, a summary of items of interest to communicators that may have flown by under the radar. I collect all the stories from which I cull the items for the Wrap on my link blog, Links From Shel, which you’re welcome to follow.

Breaking News

The end of the line for Plus?—Google+ earns the second highest engagement levels (behind YouTube) of any… Read More »

Employee activists are a good thing: one more reason to encourage workers to use social media

Employee activists onlineBack in December, when UPS’s Facebook page was the target of blistering comments from customers who didn’t get their deliveries by Christmas, many employees dove into the conversation, leaping to their employer’s defense. “I’m a driver,” wrote Larry Ledet, “Got off at 10:10 last night, 60hr weeks, I’m tired, Mother Nature, a booming economy and no one visiting malls any more cause this…no reason 4 anyone to be mad…Merry Christmas.” That was just one example.

Ledet was able to participate in the conversation without worrying about the effect on his employment because UPS has a clear social media policy that encourages employees to… Read More »

Jill Rowley’s dismissal could be a case of misguided adherence to 20th-century spokesperson policies

Jill RowleyJill Rowley says Oracle fired her for violating the company’s social media participation policy after she gave an interview to Advertising Age. The AdAge article from early last month offers a concise look at Rowley’s work as head of the company’s social selling effort, where she was helping Oracle’s sales staff learn how to use social networks as part of their jobs. According to Business Insider, she was transforming the team of more than 23,000 sales people.

According to Business Insider, Oracle hasn’t commented on Rowley’s dismissal. If the reason Rowley offers is accurate, though, it’s troubling on a number of levels. It’s not… Read More »

Organizational silos don’t need busting. They need ventilating.

SilosI am officially sick of the silo metaphor and wish it would die.

Everywhere you turn, people talk about tearing down silos, busting silos and smashing silos. Ask a farmer about that, and he’ll doubtless tell you that if you smash his silos, all the grain will fall out.

The idea of silos in organizations is meant to conjure an image of employees isolated from one another, just as different types of grains are isolated in their silos. Organizational change thought leader John Kotter ticks off the consequences of allowing silos to form: Trust is destroyed, communications are stymied, and the organization grows complacent. Nobody wants… Read More »

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