Maybe Your Employees Are Too Stupid For Social CRM #scrm

June 19, 2012 Comments
Maybe Your Employees Are Too Stupid For Social CRM #scrm

Seriously, how dumb are your employees?

I mean, God forbid you open up their ability and time to converse on social media networks with actual customers! What good could come from that?

One of the resistance maneuvers I hear all the time when talking with businesses regarding the internal shifts necessary when implementing a social business structure and Social CRM system, is that they’re not sure how much trust they have in their employees interacting online freely, and that it would be too difficult to train everyone.

“But what about what happened to GM?”

“But what about the Kenneth Cole thing?”

Aside from the fact that this same argument was used with the implementation of the phone, computer, fax machine, email and Internet and all those turned out to be not only helpful, but necessary for business, the real problem here is simple and I tell it to every company I’ve ever worked with that had these fears:

You don’t have a social media problem, you have a hiring problem.

There are truths regarding people and one of those is that people don’t purposefully sabotage groups and organizations they enjoy and respect.

Another truth is that when given clear and understandable guidelines within a system they respect, those guidelines will be followed.

Within those two statements there are 3 important terms to note for your company:

  1. Respect
  2. Guidelines
  3. System


So, if it’s true that people aren’t going to ruin something they respect, it becomes your job as an executive team to foster an atmosphere of mutual respect between employee and C-Suite. While this shouldn’t come as some giant shocker to anyone whose been in business for more than, let’s say, 5 minutes, it doesn’t appear to be common practice in the business world. According to the American Psychological Association, half of all employees who said they feel like they’re not respected at work said they intend to look for a new job in the next year. The same study went on to show though that 90% of workers who reported feeling respected said they are motivated to do their best work and comply with company policies and regulations. So, when you openly show employees they are respected by the company, they respect you back and are motivated to comply with your policies and guidelines (keep reading). That’s step one.


While you shouldn’t be afraid of social media, opening the social communications floodgates and leaving your employees alone to navigate the waters is also asking for trouble. As discussed before, one of the first things you need to fully realize is that a mapped out social communications guidelines document will outline all policies and procedures surrounding employee actions in social media. This document should also go so far as to document which systems will be used for what and under what circumstances (i.e. in my last agency I implemented a system for desktops and phones where all client Twitter communications took place through Hootsuite and all personal Tweeting was done through the regular Twitter app, basically eliminating all possibility of a GM-like episode). Make sure these guidelines are in-hand with all employees and that they understand them during the training process.


Finally, we’re getting to the systems side of things. I’m not going to go into detail here because we’ve talked about systems and strategies before, but after you’ve created a culture of respect and produced guidelines that your employees can follow, begin implementing your systems and then rest assured that you can trust the people you’ve empowered and educated in those systems.

If you get through all the steps and STILL can’t trust your employees, no amount of consultation is going to help because you are hiring people that you ultimately do not trust. Build teams around responsibilities AND personalities, because you need to be able to trust your workforce.

But in the end, I can’t help you with that issue. That’s a hiring problem, not a social business problem.

This article was originally posted on Social CRM Insider.

  • Ted Coine

    Michael, great post – great blog over-all, as a matter of fact! 

    I’m not sure who coined that phrase, either, but I do have a take on why it resonates with so many of us:

    Your point about crowdsourcing is spot-on. Companies can no longer afford to think of their organization as distinct from the environment in which it dwells. Good ideas are everywhere, not just on the payroll. The firms that fastest learn to harness social/collaboration technology to harness these good ideas: it is they who will win!

    • Michael Brito


      Thanks for the kind words! I will check out that link shortly.

      I agree with you 100%. Sometimes the best ideas come from people outside of the firewall — just like the Starbucks Splash Stick.

    • Marjorie Clayman

      Man, I just run into you everywhere 😀 I must be doing something right! 

  • Marjorie Clayman

    I’m a little twitchy at the last point. Who are online influencers? How are we defining that? Does this mean these folks are going after people who are big in the social media world? Does it mean they’re looking at Klout or PeerIndex scores? Really, if you are after engagement to grow your business, “influence” only matters in so far as the person might be influenced or influence others to buy from you.

    I’ve gotten into many a tangled argument as people say that you never know who knows who in the online world, so engaging with everyone is great. But to say part of your objective is to reach “online influencers,” I dunno. What did you think of that?

    • Michael Brito


      I kind of have a distorted view of influencers. One one hand, we are all influencers, meaning we are influencing our micro-communities’ purchase decisions (and non purchase decisions) everyday via organic conversations.
      On the other hand, in the really broad scheme of things, none of us are true influencers; meaning our impact isn’t such a big deal.

    • Ted Coine

      Margie, I have no idea what your clout score is (I refuse to misspell that word), but you are one of the most influential friends I have – and that’s no exaggeration. There is a solid core of us who routinely take your opinions to heart. How many people do you “influence?” Who knows?! But are you an EF Hutton to those who know you? Absolutely!

  • peter zmijewski

    nice blogging here…really informative.

    • Michael Brito

      Thanks Peter

  • Elvira

    Great post, love your content you really make sure that you have relevant post and the graphic presentation are very good! keep it up!

    • Michael Brito

      Thank you Elvira! Appreciate the kind words!

  • David

    Joey, I would argue that yes you may have a hiring problem, but possibly and most likely you have a leadership problem. Apologies, when I see the word guidelines I want to scream. I have written them, I have trained them and do you know what? they are not worth the effort. Why? cos guidelines are a management crutch. Of course you should have a framework and some basic rules of engagement, but these should not be the focus. Vision, purpose, meaning give direction. This is the domain of good leadership. If management cannot step up the mark and lead, NO amount of guidelines can fill the gap.

    • David

      Not advocating a change of leadership, but a change of mindset. Corporate mindset. from command and control to leadership with vision and purpose.

      • Joey Strawn

        I’m a large advocate for a change in management mindset leading companies towards being social businesses, so I thoroughly agree. I also think that with the correct mindset in management and hiring practices upfront, that systems and written, trained and understood guidelines can be an effective way to get everyone communicating and on the same page. I’ve seen it work when the other pieces are in place. But I TOTALLY agree that without the right leadership and training, guidelines are next to useless. 

  • Sam Beal

    replacing staff isn’t realistic, so it’s really an education problem. education from within starts with “guides”. 

    • Joey Strawn

      I very much agree. I’d never suggest going back through and getting rid of current employees. I think guides and education is critical and then taking a hard look at your hiring practices going forward. 

      Thanks for the comment!

  • Curious

    By what happened at GM, do you mean what happened with Chrysler regarding the motor city profanity Tweet?

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