Tweet Tweet

Sometimes you should just leave well enough alone, but it’s not always that easy, is it? You go searching around, connecting to your employees on LinkedIn and Facebook, and then you start finding their Twitter feeds…ah, Twitter. What employees used to do in their blogs, now they can do 140 characters at a time. Yep, instead of bashing you and your leadership style in a long blog post, they have learned to be more concise and say what they need to say in far fewer words. When they don’t realize you are looking at their tweets, that may be where they are at their most honest.

You just had to look, didn’t you? And now you have found your team tweeting about you, and not in a good way. What next?

If you find critical comments about yourself online, your first instinct may be to confront the employee, punish them somehow, maybe even go so far as to fire them. You might even be thinking about doing so without telling them why, so as not to seem petty…but petty is what you will be. Perhaps instead you should think about taking that criticism and figuring out why it’s there, rather than immediately getting defensive.

Yeah, that’s right, try to see that criticism for what it is: the most honest feedback you will ever get from your employees about how they view your leadership.

Many people prefer to avoid confrontation, so they often will not tell you to your face about problems (especially if they think you are unapproachable). They might not provide honest 360-feedback or other anonymous critiques because they are never sure that it’s really going to stay anonymous. But if they think you don’t know about their Twitter account (and that you’re too social media illiterate to find it) then that is where they may vent most honestly about you. You’ll never get anything as direct as that indirect feedback.

So why not use it? Sure, you can get mad about it, and no doubt that will be your first reaction. But before going off on them, stop and ask yourself: why are they saying that? Why did they feel they could not come talk to me? Is this accurate? Am I really like this?

It might be the case that no, you’re not really like that. Your employee could just be a spoiled brat who doesn’t really feel like working and is upset that you make them do so. But you will not know that unless you stop and think about it long enough to understand what’s really going on here.

We are not talking, of course, about someone spilling company secrets through social media. Obviously, that is out of bounds, and you are totally justified in coming down hard on them. But if it’s about personal feelings and their perspectives on your leadership (especially if they never mention you or the company by name) then the only reason you would be punishing them is because you didn’t like what they said. And if it’s accurate, you are probably liking it even less.

Hearing criticism about yourself, particularly when it’s unexpected, is always going to be a hurtful thing; there is no denying that. But if you can, try to turn it into a useful experience rather than one that just gets you down. Take the criticism and consider where it’s coming from, and see what you can learn from it. That’s hard to do when your feelings are hurt, but doing hard things is a big part of leadership.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *