You’ve heard about idiot employees Facebooking themselves out of jobs. If you manage folks in a shop that allows access to socnets you’ve probably spent some time wondering whether your people are using Facebook to dick around at work or are leveraging it for meaningful connections (or some such nonsense).
I guarantee you this: the braintrust of the Israeli Defense Forces, were shocked when one of their soldiers fucked up an operation by publishing some of its details on Facebook.
The Israeli military is one of the most fearsome machines on Earth. Due to the neighbourhood it inhabits it has to be. It is well run and organized, with clearly defined systems and processes. Moreover, it is aware of social media and has reached out to soldiers to warn them of potential dangers lurking online. Indeed this is not the first time the IDF has handled an incident like this. Youtube is full of videos that portray Israel soldiers negatively.
The best internal policies in the world cannot entirely eliminate stupidity. The young man who posted these sensitive details about the raid was clearly anxious to go home. Fatigue of facing tough situations, overwork and the desire to be somewhere else are all things that lead to poor decision making – and these are things that every employee confronts.
So what should the IDF (or your company) do?
Ban Facebook? No. This is likely to incur the ire of soldiers who want to use the social network to connect with friends and family while they’re away in the field. Such a move would be counter-productive.
In fact, since the incident, the IDF has done everything right. The unit’s commander immediately cancelled the raid. The soldier has been disciplined. Investigations and reviews will be undertaken.
Here is the $64000 question for firms and managers who don’t face bombs and bullets in their jobs:
If the Israeli Defense Forces, one of the most elite military machines on the planet, allows its personnel access to social media despite the occasional hiccup why don’t you?
Craft a policy, monitor and measure how it is working, and realize it ain’t foolproof. Don’t be draconian and ban social networks because of a few screw ups. Your employees may take an outright ban the wrong way and there are benefits to letting them have access. Chief among these is the fact that everyone needs a break sometimes, even in a workday.