Tagged: human resources

The Role of HR/Training in the World of Social Media

originally posted on Concept Hub

Imagine this scenario;

It is your first day on the job and you are handed a stack of forms; forms for taxes, for insurances, for investment and retirement benefits and among all of that paperwork is the company’s Internet policies and guidelines.

You have a new job to learn, a new culture to adapt to and you need to be prepared to make an impact and prove you were the best choice for the job. So you take a few hours and fill out the appropriate new hire paperwork and sign all of the documents after glancing through what you are signing.

A week later a project manager approaches you telling you that the team has decided to participate in finding new business leads for the company. He has been exploring social media for a few years and considers himself a social media expert. In fact, he has spoken on the topic at a number of events lately. He is going to get a core group of people to participate in forums, social networks, blogs, and to save any leads to the social bookmarking site, Delicious.

This basic scenario is probably happening every day in every organization around the world. For those of us who have evangelized social media for so long, we may be rejoicing at the fact that the trends we have seen for so long are finally being adopted for the greater good. For those of us who have worked in the corporate world in many various ways, and who also understand the power of social media, we look at the above scenario and scream; NO! STOP! WAIT!

Many organizations are starting to draft their social media policies. The policies range from the very basics of “don’t do anything stupid” to very strict of “do not mention your company or work online –  ever!”

At this time I am not going to discuss what should or should not go into the company policy. I believe there is no set template. It really depends on many variables that are unique to each organization. What do want to stress is that the policy should not be one of the many documents that your new hire signs, it should be part of an ongoing, holistic organizational training initiative.

Take the scene above. This is a rogue group being led into the world of social media by an employee, with the best of intentions, who has decided he is the expert guide. As the expert guide, he has very specific goals in mind for his team’s social media efforts. But has he considered and prepared his team for the potential traps that exist in this new world?

Try this. Go to http://delicious.com and search for your organization’s name or other organization’s names.
I have done this with several companies and I have found FTP files saved, links to Intranets and RFPs. I have discovered teams of people using delicious for collaborative research and I have been able to tap into what they are searching for. In short, I have been able to tap into an organization’s intellectual property simply through a few searches in Delicious.

Let’s consider another scenario. The team mentioned above begins to participate in various online groups and they are gaining a following. They have become great representatives of your organization raising the visibility of the talent that exists within and even attracting the attention of the mainstream media. The bottom line has been impacted in a very positive way because of this group’s social media activities. Then one day, during a random online chat, one of your employee’s makes what seems to be a harmless criticism and your competitors decide they have discovered your Achilles heel. The same mainstream media that had been cheering you has now turned on you because the story just got interesting again. Will your organization be prepared?

One final scenario. The team above goes through very stringent channels to get their social media initiatives approved. Guidelines have been put in place and the message has been nailed down and goals have been set. The project is moving forward and there are signs of success. In the department down the hall, the group that has been feeling like the red headed step child sees the success and they decide to launch their own pilot program. They suspect, based on recent past experiences that they will not get support from their executives until they prove a business case for them to be involved in social media, so they launch the pilot as a means to build their business case. As they progress they trip, maybe they notice maybe they don’t. But in their path, they leave comments and open doors that will compromise the company’s intellectual property and reputation. Who will know? When will they find out? When will it be too late to correct these mistakes? The biggest challenge we face today is that a simple mistake online will be more widespread and live longer than what we have ever experienced in history. Don’t believe me? Google the words “Ketchum and FedEx”

Today many organizations have delegated social media as a project that belongs to the marketing and communications departments. I argue that it belongs equally in the departments of Human Resources and Training.

This past month Ariel Silverstone provided a fascinating presentation for the  TAG Enterprise 2.0 society regarding the realities of blocking social media. Consider if the Iranian government could not block social media efforts, how can any organization think they could control social media activity.

The only step an organization can take is to manage the use of social media. This starts with employee training and development, open door policies, and guidelines that are ingrained into the culture of the organization. These efforts are typically delegated to Human Resources and Training, not Marketing and Communications.

In Ariel’s presentation, he suggests that managers and leaders manage the risk of social media by learning what tools exist and the many ways each tool can be used as well as the many reasons why someone would choose a social media tool over existing traditional communication channels. To do this, Human Resource and Training professionals have a great opportunity to review and implement social software to communicate with their employees, train them and gather feedback from the group as well as to encourage transparent collaboration amongst the various departments.

So where do you go from here?

  1. Create social media guidelines and find ways to ingrain those guidelines into the culture of the company. A fun video, role-playing, and team meetings are great ways to accomplish this. The goal is not to stop social media efforts, but to protect your intellectual property and reputation from the unsanctioned use of social media.
  2. Be open to all ideas from all departments for implementing social media and be prepared to train each participant on how to use each tool. For example, every employee should know how to use and when to use the privacy settings that exist on the various social media sites.
  3. Begin to use the tools for training and internal communications. This will keep the organization constantly learning about tools and trends that are continuously changing and to leverage ways to find additional benefits from the new tools that are being introduced.

I believe most people now agree that social media is not a fad, Pandora’s box has been opened. Many tools and communities will come and go, but the social software that is free and readily available will continuously be introduced to the market at an ever-accelerating rate. Organizations need to make sure each member of their team is prepared.

Is the intrusion of social media into the workplace inevitable?

originally posted on Concept Hub

This past week I had the opportunity to present a 2-hour workshop and keynote dinner presentation to the Human Resource Association of Broward County.

In both presentations, I referred to the post of a couple of weeks ago where I highlighted how Social Media became a speeding bullet.

But social media is rapidly becoming more dominant in our lives for more reasons than ease of use, low barrier to entry and grassroots marketing efforts. From a Human Resource perspective, social media is rapidly intruding their workplace because of the rapid shift in demographics at the workplace.

The Echo Boom generation is an expansive term for children born between roughly 1980 and 1995.

In 1989 the number of live births exceeded four million for the first time since 1964, and the Echo Boom peaked in 1990 (33 years after the peak of the Baby Boom) with 4.16 million live births, the greatest number since 1962.

Children of this generation are called Echo Boomers, a reference to the fact that the generation falls between about 30 and 36 years after the Baby Boomer generation, and thus many Echo Boomers are the children of Baby Boomers.
-Source Wikipedia

About.com and many other media sources are exploring the shifts that are happening in the workforce because of the baby boomers who will begin to retire by 2010.

Somewhere in the middle of the baby boomers and the echo boomers is my generation, Gen X. Although we did not grow up connected, we entered the workforce at the height of the Internet boom. We were and are the major contributors to the online shift.

The Echo Boomers is the generation that will be filling in the gaps in the workforce left by the retiring baby boomers. Who is the generation? They are the ones who grew up connected. They have been sharing their lives online most of their lives. They have not known time and geographic boundaries in the way generations past have felt the restrictions of such boundaries. Their ideas of Privacy is more of an interesting idea or a fuzzy concept for them compared to the privacy expected from past generations.

This generation is entering the workforce with different ideas of etiquette, social norms, and communication styles. They want to share their personal lives and they expect others to care about their personal lives.

However, this shift in who we are as a human race and how we interact with fellow humans all over the world is only accelerating.

Consider the acceleration of change of the past century;

Assembly Line 1901

Television 1930

Personal Computer 1981

Cell Phone 1983 (yeah – it was huge)

In the past year, Facebook grew from 10.8 million to 19.5 million. MySpace grew from 9.3 million to 58.8 million and LinkedIn grew from 3.2 million to 4.9 million!

More than that, it is important to look at our very young and see what they are growing up with. Not only are they going to be hyper-connected from birth with mom and dad blogging every moment and posting family photos on Flickr, they are also growing up with mixed reality/virtual environments such as WebKinz and Nicktropolis.

As much as Human Resource professionals have to keep up with already, the intrusion of social media has added even more challenges to their workday;

  • The company’s reputation is now in the hands of LinkedIn, Blogs, Forums and Social Networks.
  • Intellectual Property can be severely compromised with a click of a button.
  • Globalization and the Long Tail has created a new competitive landscape.
  • Multi-Cultural Sensitivities
  • Multi-Generational Sensitivities.

But at the same time social media has provided several opportunities:

  • The creation of a Visual Social Graph – Who does your Janitor Know?
  • Tapping Into the Hidden Talent in Your Organization – Retain Talent by ensuring that they are in the right roles!
  • Keep up with the marketplace – Know what your consumers know.
  • Provide exceptional customer service.
  • Increase your brand awareness.

Human Resource professionals are definitely in key positions to be able to lead organizations through these changes by;

1. Establishing a Sense of Urgency!
Know What is Going on in the Market Place
How is it Affecting Your Organization?
How is it Affecting Your Competitors?

2. Get Leaders from Other Departments Involved!
Social Media Affects Every Department

3. Developing a Vision
Focus on the Opportunities
Don’t Lose Site of the Business Purposes

4. Creating a Community of Advocates
Who is already involved in online social networking?
Train the Trainers

5. Maintaining Constant and Open Communication Channels
Address Fears and Concerns Openly
Maintain Internal Resource and Knowledge Blogs and Wikis

6. Highlighting Short-Term Wins
Notify everyone when you identified good candidates or solved a problem online.

7. Don’t Lose Momentum
Create a futurist Committee

8. Most importantly – Lead the Cultural Change!

Just like all the other changes in history-social media is more than a new way of doing things, it is a new way of being!

Tapping into the Hidden Talent in Your Office

originally posted on Concept Hub

In November 2005 I wrote, “In the Spirit of Leonardo Da Vinci.”

I explored the idea that what made Leonardo Da Vinci such a genius ahead of his time was that he was able to explore a variety of disciplines and discover how they are all connected.

I stated that

Technology has made tapping into the spirit of Leonardo Da Vinci possible for anyone who has the desire to do so. Leonardo said that “the desire to know is natural to good men,” and “the knowledge of all things is possible.”

I also questioned why we segment different roles and departments within our corporations.

If the marketing department is not aware of the information that the salespeople are receiving, how do they know how to target their campaign? If salespeople do not get to experience the issues coming through customer service, how do they know what problems to solve? How can PR respond to the public without being in the trenches with the public? How do executives keep fresh and innovative ideas without a constant interaction with the the new hires that are coming in, full of hope, enthusiasm and innovative ideas?

The past few years, we have seen accelerated competition, global competition as well as competition from resourceful entrepreneur’s shaking up the business world as we have known it. We have also seen an acceleration in the competition to find talent. People now have an abundance of opportunities; from innovative companies, to contract/consulting work, to go off on their own. In the late nineties, we witnessed a high demand for talent based on the innovations and opportunities that were being explored on the Internet. That was a decade ago. The Internet has matured and has become a part of our lives as well as a portal to unlimited choices and opportunities for the top talent within the workforce.

For a company to thrive, or even survive, it is vital that they attract, retain, train, motivate, and inspire the right talent for the right job. Companies spend an enormous amount of their profit margin for such efforts. Yet due to an outdated process of segmenting roles and departments and lack of cross-pollination of ideas and open collaboration, many organizations miss the hidden talent that they currently have within. Or worse, they lose that talent when the individual is recruited away or steps out on their own to explore the talents that they were not given the opportunity to express at their current organization.

Many organizations are still operating with policies and procedures that were created for the industrial age. Procedures that give everyone a specific task within the “assembly line” of a hierarchal model.

This month’s Wired Magazine has a very relevant article about another “genius” that we need to look to in order to achieve a competitive advantage. In “The World Needs More Rebels Like Einstein” Walter Isaacson states;

At a time when the US, worried about competition from China, is again emphasizing math and science education, Einstein’s genius reminds us that a society’s competitive advantage comes not from teaching the multiplication or periodic tables but from nurturing rebels. Grinds have their place, but unruly geeks change the world. And, as recent research into Einstein’s personal papers shows, there’s no better glimpse into his offbeat creativity than the way he puzzled out the special theory of relativity.

See, Einstein did not follow the rules and do what he was told, he mapped out his own path, which changed the world.

The book Wikinomics provides numerous examples of how R&D departments are looking to retired Scientists and hobbyists to solve complex problems. Many solutions are actually coming from hobbyists because they have a diverse amount knowledge and skills enabling them to see connections that the scientist who are focused on the problems miss.

So, what changes can an organization make which would enable them to tap into the hidden talent that might exist within their own walls and shift from operating under the industrial model to the digital model?

They can start by allowing employees to feel involved in the decision making and direction of the company. Let them know that their ideas and opinions are being heard and be sure that the organization is capturing that information.

We all learned new ways to communicate in the late 90’s with email, Intranets, and databases. These new forms of communication were an improvement to former ways of communicating (paper memos, meetings that were missed…) However they still have their downfalls of being silos of information, or lost information, or worse, an overload of information that is ignored or inaccurate. Social media has provided the next new wave of communicating and collaborating.

Through RSS feeds, employees are able to “opt-in” to ongoing and evolving information/conversations that they are interested in, whether it is within their department or another area that they choose to explore. Departmental blogs allow for an ongoing conversation that enables different people from different departments to collaborate on ideas and explore opportunities or threats. Wikis enable companies to capture the collective intelligence of the team as it grows and evolves. Social Bookmarking enables team members to share and discover new resources and information. Podcasts and interactive videos from the executive team provides a personal touch and community building from the top.

The shift from a rigid industrial model to a collaborative digital organization reduces the loss of both information and talent. When people feel involved and valued, they experience a sense of pride and ownership and are therefore motivated and inspired to share their untapped talents, innovations, knowledge, and skills. Such an organization will reap the competitive advantage for talent as well as market-share within their industry.