Managing the YouTubers (Guest commentary)

How the next generation is already changing the workforce
By Richard A. Moran
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 03/07/2007

Imagine a brave new workplace that looks something like this: The manager of a large department enjoys giving her Monday morning pep talks. She considers herself the head coach of the department and wants to inspire everyone before they hit the cubicle, the phone and the computer. “Hitting our goals is like shooting low hanging fruit in a barrel,” she exhorts. There is some snickering as she continues, “We need to be singing from the same road map.” Her coaching session continues with happy applause while, unbeknownst to her, a small video camera captures the sincere but hilarious weekly sermon. Later that day, the video clip shows up on YouTube and is an immediate hit and watched by all in the organization and around the world.

Or, consider this scene: At the luncheon to celebrate all the birthdays of the month, half of the attendees are eating cake and kibitzing about hockey. The other half are not talking to anyone. They’re focused on hand-held devices, moving their thumbs like dancers. They are multi-tasking, paying some attention to the party as well as several things going on with their PDAs. At the end of the lunch they sing happy birthday, go back to their cubes and log back on.

Similar scenes are played out every day and the implications in the workplace are a bit of a new frontier for HR. In the first case, was that manager’s privacy violated? Is there a penalty for the one who took the video footage? Should the company try to find out who took the video? Should someone talk to the manager about her metaphor dyslexia? Does she know she is on YouTube, and who should tell her? Can the company ever get that tape off of YouTube? (The answer is no.) Should rules be set up about company videos? If the company is identified, what should it do?