As I’m about to dive into building a new series of social media education modules for our Inside Sales reps, I recalled reading a recently published thought leadership paper, IBM executive brief: social business behavior, which provides an interesting perspective for executives and others to ponder on the appropriate social business etiquette for employees to use “inside the firewall.”
This paper raises some very useful points including how etiquette plays a large role in social business adoption (inside or outside the firewall), the importance of social norms in shaping behavior and building trust, and how relationships can be made or broken based following these new rules of social business etiquette. The brief also provides illustrative examples to help the reader understand what is meant by social business etiquette in different contexts, and emphasizes the importance of making expectations explicit for the employee through both policies and coaching.
The following outlines some of my thoughts for Social Business Managers who are seeking to effect behavior change in their organizations and speed adoption of social business practices and tools.
The key takeaway for me in this paper is to be prescriptive. While I may focus on bringing social business to the IBM sales force, and others may try to incorporate social business into other processes such as product development or customer service, make it easy for your employees by spelling it out for them. Documenting clear expectations for your employees, including dos and dont’s, in the context of their job and role, using easy to consume language, will help your employees adopt social business faster, whether it’s in- or outside the firewall.
Some people need to be baby-stepped through this process, and appreciate very prescriptive guidance. Others rely on the detailed guidance as a reference guide. Either way, you’re better off providing too much detail than not enough when seeking to speed adoption of social business in your organization. Just make sure to organize this guidance to address the needs of multiple user groups including early adopters all the way to laggards.
It’s very challenging for people who are completely new to social media tools and other collaboration technologies to just “pick it up” as they go along. Many of these incredibly popular tools, such as Twitter, aren’t intuitive for all, seem to have a language and culture of their own, and frankly, frighten a lot of people. I’ve trained hundreds of people over the years on a variety of internal and external social business tools, and the number one theme across it all is FEAR, mostly from misinformation.
- Fear of not having enough time
- Fear of saying something stupid
- Fear of having nothing valuable to say or contribute
- Fear of not having the right skills to use the tools
- Fear of getting in trouble from their management for spending time on this
- Fear of violating a corporate policy
- And the list goes on and on.
Thou Shalt Overcome
To overcome this list of fears and concerns:
- validate their concerns (e.g. I know it can seem daunting at first, but with practice, you’ll get the hang of it.)
- provide clear training on the tool itself (including screen shots and how to’s)
- offer prescriptive guidance on the etiquette and expectations (e.g. do’s and don’ts)
- showcase success stories of those in similar jobs
- demonstrate how that tool can be used successfully in the context of that person’s job
- shower them with positive reinforcement and recognition
While there are many more facets to a social business transformation and speeding adoption than I have included here, these are the few that stand out in my mind as key building blocks in your Rx for Success. I will cover other aspects of speeding adoption in future posts.
For now, I welcome your comments and suggestions at @jennifer_dubow, so that we can learn from each other for our respective transformation efforts.
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