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CEO’s, Web 2.0, and “Ostrich” Leadership

Originally posted: June 29, 2010 on TrishMcFarlane.com

As I am following the SHRM Annual Conference on Twitter from home this week, there is some great information being shared.  For instance, I’ve already gathered data on unions and EFCA.  That said, as the sessions get rolling, tweets during one of the social media sessions about the harmful effects of Web 2.0 caught my attention.  I felt I had to jump into the fray:

TrishMcFarlane's avatar
TrishMcFarlane says:  Companies who block social media will learn they have lost their competitive advantage.Soc Med. is a tool, not the devil #SHRM10
CincyRecruiter's avatar
CincyRecruiter says:  About 1/2 of the attendees in this session are banning social media at work…”There’s an App for that. The smart phone.” @ryanestis #shrm10
TrishMcFarlane's avatar
TrishMcFarlane says:  @CincyRecruiter No kidding. They need to understand all the employees are already on SM during the day via phone. #SHRM10
CincyRecruiter's avatar
CincyRecruiter says:  @TrishMcFarlane I’m not sure why companies/leaders aren’t getting that. THEY are using their smart phones. Why wouldn’t their employees?

Jen McClure (a.k.a. @CincyRecruiter) is right.  CEO’s and other leaders are using smart phones so why don’t they see that their employees are too?  I could throw a lot of facts and figures at you about how many CEO’s use smart phones, what percent of the population uses them, and probably what percent of  employees use their smart phones at work to check social media sites.  But I won’t.  The numbers really don’t matter here.  What matters is this:

  • Employees ARE using Web 2.0 at work from their phones
  • Social media is a tool to communicate and can just as easily be used in a business setting.
  • Employers who do not use Web 2.0 will begin to lose candidates for their jobs as this becomes more important for employees.  They will also lose good employees who go elsewhere to work for more technologically progressive employers.
  • CEOs who block and ban Web 2.0 in the workplace from desktops and laptops will lose competitive advantage.

Lose competitive advantage, you say?   Why?

Because this is not a fad that is going away.  It’s the NEW media and it is how this generation is starting to do business. Consumers use social media to gain information on your company, your products and your employees.  Ultimately, they are giving you free advertising if you’re good and they are sharing with the world when your customer service is poor.

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.

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