Banning the use of iPods, Facebook, blogs and the Internet is a hostile work environment for anyone under the age of 35. At least that's what one marketing consultant told me. Michelle Golden, president and chief executive of Golden Marketing Inc offered a few anecdotes from one of the conferences she spoke at recently.
Meeting with a group of managing partners, she started her presentation by showing how technology has changed in the last 20 years – reminding her audience of brick-sized cell phones and how laptops were bigger than today's desktops. She talked about how CPAs were on the forefront of technology and then the inevitable happened – the changes were coming so fast that even the technically savvy CPAs couldn't keep up.
"Now fast forward another 15 to 20 years and every day you hear about something new – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter – and pretty much all of us blow a lot of it off until somebody shows us why we should do it," Golden said. "We fear what we don't know. It's really easy to complain and say everybody's spending all day on Facebook."
So Golden tested her audience: "Do you know what the business benefits of these softwares are?" she asked.
When they answered no, she advised them to compile a team within their firms to investigate the benefits and challenges of using these types of tools. The teams were to come back and report their findings and anticipate what more conservative types would find questionable.
Later on, Golden talked about the use of iPods in the workplace and again challenged the group of managing partners.
"I know how CPAs think and I respect them immensely," said Golden, who has worked with nearly 100 CPA firms of all sizes. "I get why they are strained about these issues and I want to help them remove the fear factor."
That said, Golden's not afraid to call them out when needed.
When one partner volunteered the information that his firm indeed banned iPods, Golden asked the crowd what employees – most likely working in a cubicle farm – are supposed to do when someone next to them is chatting about an upcoming birthday party or on the phone with their mother.
"Why wouldn't you let them tune out?" Golden questioned. "How do you think they got through school and studying? Music can help people focus. Didn't you blast your radio or records when you were studying?"
Apparently, this hit home. And one partner spoke up.
"Well, we all have radios in our office and when we work on Saturdays we're cranking up our radios," he said. "We're probably blasting our music so loud that it's disturbing other people."
Golden just illustrated what's called a "teachable moment."
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