Monday, August 31, 2009

social media: what you & your boss say

Psst. Your boss really is thinking about social media, even though you don't think she is. And, for the boss: Your team's also thinking about it. I'm no psychic. I just spend a lot of time listening to organizational leaders and top communicators in all sorts of organizations, and with their teams, many of whom I train or coach. When it comes to social media, I'm often hearing both sides of what could be a useful and interesting conversation--except the parties are having it with me, instead of each other. Want to listen in? Here are some of things bosses say to me about using social media as a communications tool:
  • "I'm the only one here who does anything in social media." Variants on this them include: My staff shows no interest in learning this stuff...I've shown them how to use Twitter but they don't post anything...I've set up an entire video studio to get things started, but I'm the only one trying.
  • "Are my existing staff capable in this area? I can't tell." Sometimes this sounds like I don't want to hire new people right now...I don't see their willingness to try...No one volunteers for experimenting with social media...I don't know enough to evaluate their skills.
  • "I'm not sure my leadership appreciates that we're using this." On several occasions, I've heard this comes out a different way: I was surprised when the president asked for a report on what we were doing in social media--it came up with a board member.
Here's what team members are telling me:
  • "No one dares post anything for work, because the boss is too anxious about it." Sometimes I'll see my trainees show up on Twitter, only to disappear. When I inquire, they most often say things like: Bob called me seconds after I tweeted about x to ask what I thought the ramifications would be, and so I know he's monitoring verrrry closely...Susan wants to decide what we say right down to the verbs...she's only comfortable with what she posts, but it sounds very awkward. I don't want to risk it.
  • "They've decided I don't know how to do this." I've talked to team members who are planning to take vacation time and pay to attend conferences to learn social media skills--just the show of enthusiasm that marks an eager player--because their boss has decided they aren't capable of learning it.
  • "I'm on Facebook all the time, but no one has talked about how we can use it for work." Or I hear: Janet can't send email from her cellphone. Why would I expect my supervisor to get social media...I never get to talk to the VP, but I'll just guess he's not into this and so we won't be into it as an office, either...I could show them, but no one's asked for my help.
If you're not hearing these things, it doesn't mean they're not being said--or thought. In some cases, the adept social-media boss may need to pointedly delegate to team members--then stop hovering--and adept but junior staffers may need to stop waiting to be recognized and volunteer to help others. But you may just need to start with a conversation, or several. That's why many of my clients have asked for some combination of facilitated orientation sessions, training and strategy brainstorms to help entire teams--or several teams at once--work together to figure out a social media approach. (In some cases, I've also helped evaluate where staff stand on social media skills and recommended needed training.) I can customize a facilitated session that gets your team together, talking and taking action on strategic uses for social media. Email me at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz for ideas and details.

1 comment:

Carol Wright said...

What I do is send an email in the morning with a list of things we could put on Twitter - and say "you can put this up or I can".

Being anxious about what you put up is a good thing! Think three times before sending anything to the web.