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Sunday, 2 March 2014

How Do You Control Use of The Internet in Your Business? Ask Your Gen-Y Employees What to Do!

At a recent meeting of my Vistage group the question of (and I use the description reluctantly) Internet Policy was ventilated. 

It was interesting to see the different approaches in the businesses in the group.  Some had a “policy” which was communicated to everyone in the business, some had rules of engagement which apparently are less prescriptive and some had nothing at all. 

It is worth examining the whole situation as far as use of the web is concerned in a business and even more importantly to realise that the rate of change is generally far quicker than the majority of us realise and can manage. 

The first and the most important factor to understand is that however we whinge and complain about the mass of emails which land in the inbox daily and the consequent time taken to deal with it, it isn’t going to go away and indeed will certainly increase rather than decrease. 

Secondly we who happen to have maturity on our side tinker round the edges of the thing and hope that we are keeping as much up to date as we can manage.  If in doubt pass it to the IT department and hope that they can do something to help. 

The sad and sorry fact is that if we are not Generation-Y we use the facilities of the wed and the internet simply because it is there and, as I said before, it isn’t going to go away so we had better use it. 

The imposition of an “Internet Policy” usually results from management noticing that some of the younger Gen-Y members of staff seem to be on the system a vast amount of time and therefore some rules need to be laid down. 

It must be said that most “policies” tell people what they can’t or mustn’t do rather than showing the positive side.  When we don’t fully understand what is going on the first and easiest option is to restrict it and lay down the rules to achieve it. 

We need to understand that if we are much more than 30 and probably 25, we just don’t understand that for Gen-Y a smart phone, a tablet or a computer isn’t just a piece of equipment at the office, it is way of life. 

I know of Gen-Y users who never use email; their preferred method of communication is through Facebook or Twitter and no doubt from another fashionable piece of software which will be launched any time now. 

Vistage speaker Herb Meyer says that the rate of change in terms of the expansion of the available knowledge base is exponential whereas our ability to keep alongside is linear.  All that this implies is that the gap between available knowledge and us grows ever great by the minute. 

If we take Gen-y on to our staff we now have to expect that their approach to technology is almost certainly diametrically opposed to ours and the way that they embrace this technology is vastly different from ours.

If we accept that this is the case, that things will change and we won’t know about them because we don’t use the technology in the same way, then we have a chance to achieve a positive outcome. 

It can and will be rather disconcerting to realise that some youth who we probably would dismiss as inarticulate and hence not over bright, is almost certainly streets ahead of we mature ones when it comes to the crunch. 

The answer?  Don’t bother with “internet policies”.  Bring the youth into the fold and use their abilities for the good of the business and the people in it.  In another ten years many of us will no longer be as involved as we are now and our places will have been taken by the current Gen0Y intake. 

We must harness the abilities of this generation because they are better at doing things than we are.  They are not a threat, they represent a great opportunity and we need to accept and exploit it.
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