Leadership and Social Media

Recently I heard from a friend who was reprimanded at work for being active on LinkedIn. His boss asked him directly if he were looking for a new job. He said, “No. I am not. I have been asked to provide recommendations for some colleagues who have recently lost jobs.”

A couple of things come to mind when an employee is put in this situation:

1.) How did the boss know the employee was on LinkedIn, if he/she is not on it as well?

2.) What is the effect on the working relationship between an employee and his/her organization when these questions are asked?

* The employee is now afraid to write recommendations for business partners, and is averse to using LinkedIn as a networking and learning tool for his work.

* The boss, the leader in this organization, is not providing trust. How then, will employees be able to give trust in return?

3.) There is a lack of understanding about what the capabilities are of LinkedIn. It is not just for job seekers; it can lead to new clients, it can be a way to keep up with business relationships, and a way to learn using social media, to name a few applications. And yes, it can also be used for job searching.

What thoughts do you have on this situation, and how would you handle it?