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Embrace social media to drive engagement and retention

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This guest post is by Alan Matcham, director of the Leading Edge Forum Executive Programme and co-author of “The Effective Organization: The Nuts and Bolts of Business Value.”

Technology has changed almost everything in the business world except our basic management approaches. Business model, process and product innovation are well-trodden paths, but with the exception of a few pioneering organizations, management innovation is much rarer.

The challenge ahead will be to identify how the changing nature of work and the pursuit of organizational innovation through the use of IT and new technologies will create a new model of work. Because the social technology of management sets both the tone and context within which we all work, it’s sensible to identify which practices and principles are a hindrance or a barrier and work toward alternative solutions.

If the way we use technology in our private lives is anything to go by, emerging IT not only teaches us lessons about how people connect and collaborate; it can also enable new ways of working.

Most organizations have a long way to go as far as using the appropriate social media tools and putting ideas into practice, but small steps are being taken to move the needle. Here are a few small steps that can help move the needle at your organization:

  • Start a dialogue. Social media tools can create a conversation that can’t be achieved in the traditional hierarchical corporate model of management. Employees can use social media to share ideas openly without being “policed” and to form a culture of open innovation and idea sharing. Rather than focusing on how to control social media, companies should focus on how best to use it. Social media can also significantly streamline and speed up internal day-to-day tasks, saving time and money.
  • Keep an open mind. Just because something has always been done a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the best way. Employers and managers must learn to be receptive to change. Using social media helps employees blend work and social life together, creating stronger camaraderie in the workplace. Upper management may also need to dedicate specific resources to help implement these programs. The biggest barrier can sometimes be from managers who are not yet ready to adopt new practices, but employers need to realize the long-term value of this investment. 
  • Create brand ambassadors. A strong internal brand built on democratic principles helps a company recruit and retain the right talent, and it also creates long-term loyalty that empowers employees as “brand ambassadors.” Perhaps if companies start looking at social media as an extension of their brand, then recruiting and marketing management could work to extend their brand messages both internally and externally.  Enlightened management and emerging technologies offer a unique opportunity for a more sustainable and competitive advantage in the workplace. It’s still early, but recent adopters are showing insights into what’s possible. When corporations begin putting new technologies and social media at the core of the organization, there will be real leadership possibilities for those forward-thinking professionals willing to be a force for experimentation and change.

Is your company ready to lead the way?

Image credit, flyparade, via iStock