Pointers: Recommended reading for the week of May 18

Assessing White House 2.0

Source: Information Week

Blogger Mitch Wagner compiles a number of articles, blog posts and other reactions to the Obama administration’s latest social-media initiatives (see FCW’s story here).

For example, New York Times blogger Saul Hansell wonders about the privacy implications of an agency “friending” private persons on MySpace and thus getting access to anything they post. What guidelines exist for protecting that information?

Jeff Chester, director of the Center for Digital Democracy, is also concerned about privacy, specifically how social-media advertisers might use public/private interactions as marketing leads.

Anthony Ha, a blogger for Silicon Valley-based VentureBeat, has been underwhelmed so far, but he hopes to see improvements over time.

5 early signs that a project is in trouble

Source: CIO magazine

You know a project is off track when it goes over the budget or misses a deadline. By that point, though, a lot of damage is done. So CIO’s Paul Glen highlights early warning signs that can help project managers get a jump on trouble.

For example, one sure sign is that project leaders frequently issue new directives or provide no leadership at all. “If a project either lacks direction or can't maintain a reasonably consistent course, it's unlikely to get to any desirable destination,” Glen writes.

Also look for a disconnect between information technology managers and business managers. Such conflicts wreak havoc on projects and rarely end well for the tech team. “In political battles between IT and business management, business management usually wins, even if it takes a while,” Glen writes.

How to measure employee engagement

Source: Workforce Management

The Gallup organization has developed a 12-question survey that managers can use to determine if employees have bought into an organization’s mission.

Several of the questions focus on whether employees feel their organization supports them in their work by providing clear expectations and the necessary materials and equipment.

Other questions highlight their working relationship with management: Do supervisors provide positive feedback and encourage and support professional development? Is management interested in employee input?

Surveys have found a strong correlation between employees' level of engagement and their productivity, Workforce Management notes.

The Facebook management muddle

Source: ComputerWorld

The use of Facebook is creating a whole new set of challenges for managers to deal with, writes ComputerWorld’s Jake Widman.

The problem is that work colleagues often invite each other to be Facebook friends, blurring the line between work and personal lives. Perhaps your employees are careful about posting updates appropriate for general viewing, but their personal friends might not feel so constrained.

Even worse, your employees might post inappropriate remarks related to the job. “If the information they're sharing is what five albums have most influenced their lives, fine," Widman writes. "If the information they're sharing is that your division might miss its new product ship date ‘by a mile!!!!!!,’ that's not fine.”

One last point: Some organizations have tried to limit the use of Facebook at the office by blocking access. But that is not a viable solution because the site now enables users to file status updates via cell phones.

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