Leap Year Lesson #169: Walking Tightropes Is Tricky

Posted: June 22, 2012 in Decision Making
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If you watched Nik Wallenda walk his tightrope across Niagara Falls earlier this week, you were probably amazed like me that anyone would be brave or dumb enough to try it, and that anyone would succeed at it.  It was an amazing feat.  The man is skilled at what he does because he’s been doing it all his life.

Many of us walk other kinds of tightropes daily.  Perhaps it’s at work collaborating with a wide variety of personalities.  Perhaps it’s at home when all is not rosy.  Perhaps it is in your career as you try to balance a forward progression against winds that attempt to move you in a different direction.

I don’t know what your tightrope is, but I’ll share with you one that I’m battling right now.  As the community manager for our company’s 20,000 member internal social network, my job is to help the community continually grow, mature and bring business value.  We openly allow non-business discussion there because it helps increase employee engagement and, frankly, everyone needs to get away from thinking about work all the time.

The tightrope relates to the tension present when some discuss (i.e., bicker) about politics.  We have a group set up just for that – one of over 1000 groups in the community.  But over the last 2-3 months there has been a noticeable change in tone and quantity of comments, especially by a few.  Technically, they aren’t violating a company policy, so there is no action to take of an HR enforcement nature.

Still, my job includes doing what is in the best interest of the community.  I’m considering deactivating the group for a month to allow everyone time to cool off.  There is no way a handful of these folks are giving their best to the company with all the time they spend bickering.  At the same time, my heart as a transparent, open community manager is to allow discussion – not to stifle it.  So the question I need to answer is which approach in this case is best for the overall health and future of the community.

Whatever I decide soon, leap year lesson #169 is Walking tightropes is tricky.

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