Over the past summer I was surprised to hear that so many organizations in P.E.I. do not allow the current and future trends in business such as social media in their organizations. I wonder sometimes, do they not allow calculators, credit cards, automobiles or telephones.
If managers only knew, the more they try to delay the future, the more behind their competitors they will be. Oh sure, I know some will say social media is a waste of time. I hear phrases such as social networking is really “Social Not-Working”.
Unfortunately, with a small percentage of the employees that is correct. But managers should understand, those who are “not working”, never were. They were just using other sources to not work.
I recall going around to workstations at companies where I was consulting and finding employees playing solitare on their computers, talking on the phone with friends and even playing chess behind their managers back.
The problem is not social media. The problem is employees who are not engaged and management who are not addressing the real issue which is employee apathy.
Let me take you back in history where fear and uncertainty of future technologies directed management decision making:
- In 1906 John Philips Sousa (a great composer) feared that the phonograph would create a marked deterioration in American music
- In 1926 the Knights of Columbus said “the telephone would break up home life and the practice of visiting friends”.
- Even in ancient times, it was said that “writing would create forgetfulness in learners because people would cease to use their memories”.
I could go on, but you get the idea. None of these dire warnings of future technologies came to fruition. This concern is natural because we fear what we do not understand or cannot control — which brings me to social media.
History is again repeating itself. Some people say that “Facebook will doom real world friendships”, and many business managers (and owners) are concerned that it will decrease productivity in their organizations.
Many also fear that the internet will track, monitor, enslave and control us, so we should shut it down, not embrace it, and for sure do not allow it in our corporations. That is similar to not allowing calculators or any form of multi-media in our business.
Yes, bad things happen and people abuse the internet. But, does that mean we should ban it for everyone? Because some people drive reckless — should we ban automobiles for all people?
Business managers and owners should use the (Kung Fu) practice with social media. Kung Fu philosophy is about living within nature’s laws and in harmony with the natural cycle of evolution. The internet and social media is part of that natural progression.
I had a client who was an owner of an automobile dealership who did not allow employees to engage in social media. On a day where it was very unlikely (because of weather) even one car would be sold. An employee (broke the rule) and tweeted a one-day (only) storm special. She sold six cars that day.
In a hospital where I was consulting, social media was banned. A surgeon, during an operation, broke the rule and tweeted an issue he had just encountered and asked for suggestions. He received (immediately) suggestions that saved the patient`s life. Arne’t you glad he broke the rule.
My question is for managers this week: “What are you doing to harness the positive potential of social media in your organization?”
Joseph Sherren, CSP, HoF, CSPGlobal, Canada's Leadership Effectiveness Expert, is CEO of Gateway Leadership in Charlottetown a boutique company which supplies speakers and trainers that best matches an organization's development needs.