Blog warnings: A blog — your personal Web-page journal — is a fairly new way of keeping a record of your activities, expressing...

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Blog warnings: A blog — your personal Web-page journal — is a fairly new way of keeping a record of your activities, expressing your innermost thoughts and exchanging information with your cyberspace readers.


Having the ability to speak freely is one of the major attractions of blogging and one of the reasons it continues to grow in popularity. But if you are an employee of any organization, large or small, you may not have all the freedom you think you have.


Especially if you’re a blogger.


And that caveat applies even if your blog is conducted entirely outside of work — on your own PC rather than your employer’s.


Where blogging may get you into trouble with your bosses is if you mention anything at all about what goes on at work, positive or negative.


Michael Karpeles, a labor lawyer representing management, offers this warning about blogging that I urge all employed bloggers to study carefully:


“Employees should not believe that they can blog about the company anonymously or on their own time and avoid employer discipline or termination,” said Karpeles, a partner at the law firm Goldberg Kohn Bell Black Rosenbloom & Moritz.


The Chicago-based attorney says employers are concerned about “company confidential information and company loyalty when considering employee blogging.”


Something very wise that employees should consider doing, according to Karpeles, is to consult “company policies regarding communications to others about the company.”


And he adds this chilling caveat: “The First Amendment does not generally apply to private employers.”


Bad-news bearers: Are bosses really doing you a favor when they take you to lunch to deliver bad news? Doreen K. Gordon of Sycamore, Ill., a former quality-assurance manager, says absolutely not.


“A restaurant is not a professional environment and is usually anything but private,” Gordon said. “In the training I received while a manager at a large company, we were instructed to conduct interviews and other meetings in professional settings. Restaurants were specifically mentioned as inappropriate.”


The manager says that even if bosses have good intentions and may think they’re “somehow compensating for the bad news by buying lunch,” a public setting is not the place to discuss business of such a confidential nature.


Instead, Gordon urges delivering bad news in a private office or a conference room. With no food.


Don’t say no: Expecting a negative response from your boss to a suggestion you’ve made may be natural, particularly if your manager usually doesn’t have anything positive to say.


But don’t let that stop you from being creative or offering suggestions in the first place.


“Often we envisage someone in authority saying no without actually testing whether or not that would actually be the case,” say Russell L. Ackoff and Sheldon Rovin, authors of “Beating the System: Using Creativity to Outsmart Bureaucracies” (Berrett-Koehler, $14.95).


” ‘The boss won’t go for this; it hasn’t been done this way before; what I want will cost too much’ are classic examples of saying no to ourselves for someone else … . But you don’t know before the fact. You should not let imaginary prophesy become reality without first testing the waters.”


E-mail questions to Carol Kleiman at ckleiman@tribune.com. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.