Tuesday, February 03, 2009

"Do you have a blogging policy?"

Just got back from another interview, but this was the first one where I asked "Do you have a blogging policy?"

I'm hardly a high profile blogger - there's only you that reads it - but nonetheless, a couple of the people I've spoken to recently have indicated that they are aware of my online activity. Perhaps because I am the top ranked "danroddy" (in categories as diverse as 'frisbies owned', 'slices of toast consumed annually' and 'Google rank') this should be expected.

But in this interview we were getting down to the nitty-gritty (me? Healthcare insurance? After the last lot they'd be spoiling me!) and it occured to me, since they seemed like the kinda folks who would allow me to develop rather than squash the life out of me, that while I'm there I may feel I have something to say to people. And this is where I would say it.

Their response was; if it helps you and you don't give away any secrets, and don't do it in company time, then that would be okay. And that's a good result I think.

Leaving aside then the issue of whether I get the job, what's your place of work like? Do they know you blog? Are they happy to have you train yourself with the words of others? Would they be less obliging than the guys I spoke to today? Do they think it's some novel diversion but not relevant to them in anyway?


Jeff Goldman said...

My boss and co-workers are aware I blog, as I told them from the very beginning, but I also let them know it is professional and I do not share any company proprietary information. My boss reads it and has not had any problems with it (believe me he would let me know if he did). I have found that my blog allows my boss and co-workers a peak inside my approach to e-learning and ISD, that may not always occur otherwise, at least not to the same level of detail.

I also encourage my co-workers to blog, which could be a great form of knowledge management, but that has not taken root, yet.

Bottom line, as long as I keep it professional and do not share non-public info, my appears to be company is OK with blogging.

I do think that if a company has concerns they should write policies regarding blogging, but only as it pertains to their corporate blogs and employees blogging about the employer. Otherwise, it starts to tread on 1st Amendment rights (USA).

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Dan

There's a lot of double-speak with blogging that I've noticed.

My work colleagues know I blog. So do my bosses - and I'm OK with that, and they are too.

There are a few of my colleagues who blog too. But some (only some) like to tout that blogging is sort of cranky and that it's OK, like, but cranky. Some of them, who tout this also blog.

Work that one out.

I call it running with the hare and hunting with the hounds.

Catchya later
From Middle-earth

Nicole said...

Hey Dan
Currently I blog for my own online training business (Litmos) so there's obviously no problems there! But prior to this, I still blogged while working for other organizations. I don't honestly think it ever came up that I blogged. Possibly because there was no conflict of interest btwn my employer's views and the subject of my blog, nor was I in a position where I dealt with clients first-hand for my name to really get out there.
Interesting though to hear that it is something you have to be upfront about in the US. Makes me wonder if it's also to do with possible legal issues? Suing and that type of thing doesn't happen to the same degree in New Zealand. In saying that, blogging, although popular, isn't as widespread here either - possibly to do with the fact we only have 4.5 million people!


Dan said...

Jeff, I agree that blogging can be a really valuable KM tool. However, while my colleagues at my last job knew I blogged, I'm pretty certain that except on one occasion when I circulated a link, no-one took the opportunity to share in my learning :(

Being in the UK there is no 1st Amedment to hide behind, so there may be ramifications to blogging in a professional sphere. Hence my querying it and making sure it is up front.

Ken, my old boss gave me the impression she thought it an amusing quirk, but in the absence of their offering any formal training it was pretty damn useful.

Nicole, thanks for reminding us all how cramped the olde worlde is ;) I asked them so that they could clarify what areas they felt were in-bounds and what was out, precisely to avoid any potential conflict down the line (to be honest, I don't think it will affect me at all).

The upsycho said...

Hmm. I'd have a mixed reaction to that response. Are they likely to send you to a conference/workshop that takes place during business hours? Would they tolerate you searching the www for a solution to a work-based problem? Would they tolerate you searching the intranet for a work-related issue? Are they happy for you to show the huy at the next desk how to do something work related?

If the answer to all of these is yes (and I suspect it would be), then the requirement that you should not blog during working hours is an indication that they don't see it as a learning exercise, but as an idle leisure pursuit that you should do on your own time.

I would say they don't 'get' 2.0 - unless you're confident that you're going to change that, I'd say network-shaped peg, square hole!

Dan said...

Karyn, a fair point you make, but they do have a training budget and expect to develop their staff - which by comparison with my last employer which did little to support learning - and recognise that blogging is a useful tool.

I think it is nothing more than a natural response to not wanting to be too accepting of off-the-job activity in the work place. We'll see, but I expect it will be fine.

Unknown said...

I really like Jeff's arrangement for its common-sense practicality. The boss knows that Jeff blogs; Jeff knows the boss reads the blog (or can).

Some people might not modify their public behavior away from work if the boss happened to be standing there, but for me, that'd sure increase mindfulness.

People talk often about the value in online networking, in relationships that involve shared interests. If you're an employee (or a contractor, or a vendor), you've got a relationship with the organizational entity as well as its specific members with whom you deal.

Dave Ferguson
Dave's Whiteboard

Michael Bromby said...

Interesting point - a quick google search gets loads of 'Blogging policy' returns, including the good old BBC (read Auntie for UK viewers!) and plenty more corporate versions.
I'm an academic blogger and in this sector 'academic freedom' is part of the job spec. I've not yet seen a policy for staff, but I assume it would be similar to student versions - see Warwick univ for an example - basically a sensible list of what not to put on a blog!