How to Use Social Media to Improve Your Company From Within

At the root of many business problems is a lack of clear, specific, accurate, and timely communication. Businesses are still commonly set up in hierarchical fashion – top management, middle management, and those who do the work of making, marketing, selling, distributing, and billing for your goods and/or services. Oh, yes – in some cases, there’s a board of directors sitting above top management.

Traditionally, for the individuals at both ends of the hierarchy, it’s a one-way conversation. Middle management acts as a conduit and filter between most employees and top management, just like top management acts between middle management and the board.

This setup contributes to inefficient, unclear, untimely, and selectively filtered communication. It contributes to the feeling many employees have that they’re just a cog in the corporate machine. There’s no real dialogue among the organization’s stakeholders.

Oddly enough, we like to tell our employees that they are part of a team, don’t we? How often does everyone in your company feel like an integral, indispensable part of a team? How well and how often do we in the upper echelons converse with our employees? How many of us management types have an open-door policy?

How many of us consider our employees coworkers? How many of us value what they do and let them know? There’s an easy way – using social media to improve our organizations from within.

(Image courtesy of iStockPhoto)

Using social media within your organization can help you easily and quickly reap the benefits of improved communication. It doesn’t matter (not to me) which medium you use – I’m not about to endorse Facebook, Twitter, or any other means (unless they funnel huge gobs of money to me, to which I’m entitled, of course). I believe you should use a social medium with which your employees are familiar and comfortable.

To “do social media right” requires us to do some (or all) of the following:

  • Be sure to give every employee an opportunity to start discussions and take part in them. Provide a framework, or set of guidelines, for discussions — don’t hinder or stifle them.
  • Define a “successful discussion”. Determine your goals and objectives for any discussion (i.e., “This discussion should result in…”). Avoid and/or purge unrealistic expectations — they will kill you every time.
  • Security of internal discussions (i.e., information security) should always be a concern but don’t use “security issues” as an excuse to avoid contact.
  • Don’t let any one individual or group dominate discussions.
  • Appoint – and empower – a moderator for discussions. It need not be the same person for all discussions — we need to figure out what works best for us.
  • Don’t dismiss any idea without giving it due consideration. Let people explain their ideas. Give them support. Nurture them.
  • Determine and limit the scope of discussions. Set time limits for any discussion.
  • Keep discussions focused. Don’t let participants go off on tangents.
  • Table discussions if they look like they’re going on too long, but don’t throw them out. Because an idea isn’t considered worthy at the present time doesn’t mean it will never be worthy. (Some folks are just ahead of their times.)
  • Keep a database of active and inactive discussions and revisit your discussions periodically.
  • Monitor discussions and periodically compare their progress and results with your objectives.
  • Encourage different ways of thinking. Allow your employees to be creative and innovative.
  • Reward the entire team for taking part in discussions, coming up with great (useful) ideas, and contributing to the company’s success. Let everyone share in positive developments and outcomes.

Using social media to improve your design, development, and operational processes will pay your organization huge dividends. Nothing bad comes of clear, specific, accurate, and timely communications — just ask Jamie Dimon about that. Don’t be afraid to try new ideas and methods like social media. Change is a good thing, isn’t it?

Thanks for reading this post. As always, I’m open to your opinions and other comments – send me an email or leave your message below.

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Posted in Better communication, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Social media

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