Wed, Jun 30, 2010
I get it. I understand that I’m a full-time resident of the social media echo chamber and I also realize that I spend much of my time on social networks interacting with a relatively small group of people who “get it” – or who are at least making some valiant attempts at trying to figure things out.
So you’d think that when I attend an event like the 2010 SHRM Annual Conference, I wouldn’t expect much interest or participation in social media from the vast majority of HR professionals in attendance and it wouldn’t shock me when a session speaker asks about how many organizations block access to social media/social networks that over half of the attendees in the room raise their hands – but frankly, I do and it does.
After spending my first full day at the conference attending sessions related to employee engagement, recruiting, candidate experience and employment branding, I’m not only shocked and surprised, I’m disappointed. Regardless of how effective the session leaders were at providing insights or examples of how to utilize social media/social networks in these critical aspects of talent management, the majority of the questions and concerns raised by the participants in the sessions continue to be a about three things – negative comments, “unauthorized” employee activity and creating policies to prevent both.
In other words, it’s about control. And it’s time stop trying to figure out how to control social media. Our job is to figure out how to effectively use it.
Why do we forget that we’ve been through this before? Remember when computers were introduced to the workplace? Or email? How about cell phones? These tools would be considered essential communication devices for most any employee in an organization today, yet all were met by initial resistance. Now, they’ve become commonplace (and essential) tools used every day to help move businesses forward. At some point in time, we stopped asking about how to keep our people from using them and started figuring out how to integrate them into our work cultures as tools used for the greater good.
Embracing and implementing effective use of social media/social networks into our organizations is no different and it’s not a question of if – but when and how.
HR Director Trish McFarlane of the HR Ringleader blog was participating virtually in the Annual SHRM Conference yesterday with thousands of others via the Twitter hashtag #shrm10 (yep, Twitter can provide learning and professional development benefits) and she shared some of her thoughts about business leaders who continue to focus on preventing or controlling the use of social media in a blog post – CEO’s, Web 2.0 and Ostrich Leadership. Trish asserts that focusing on control results in a loss of competitive advantage. Here’s an excerpt from her post:
Are there risks with using Web 2.0? Absolutely and those can be managed. They are the same risks that you have when you put a telephone in your employee’s hand or assign an e-mail address to them and ask them to represent you in that way. Employees are loose cannons, right? They could just say anything. Or not.
The bottom line is that employees are adults. If you treat them like they are and set the expectations of what “proper” communication looks like for your company regardless of the medium used, you’ll be just fine. Stop acting like an ostrich with your head under ground. If you don’t, you will soon find that your business has been passed by and all you wound up with is a mouth full of sand.
You’re in good company if you’re new to social media or if your company has yet to get on board with creating a strategy, guidelines and training for effective use. However, the best way to separate yourself from the pack and start utilizing it to create “competitive advantage” is to start asking different questions.
What questions do you think HR, Recruiting and Talent Management professionals should be asking in order to start effectively integrating these tools into their businesses?