December 22/29, 2014; Volume 28/Number 13
By Lisbeth Calandrino
For years all the shots were called by the owner or leader of a company. But in recent years social media has changed what is perceived as leadership. Instead of influence being vertical, it has become horizontal. In other words, if your employees are connecting with consumers through social media, they will have more influence.
Anyone can have a voice within a company and share his or her ideas across many platforms. People follow bloggers not because they have an important title but because they’re interesting and have a voice that makes people listen. With this in mind, it means anyone in your organization can become a leader. Social media is open all day and your younger employees are connecting at all hours. This is different from your employee who says, “I leave my work at work.”
Successful organizations are starting to recognize employees who have social media skills and are asking their opinions about what is happening around their businesses. Many business owners have grown up in an age of “play it close to the chest,” when transparency was not encouraged. These days it’s all about sharing, something that is foreign to many business owners and leaders. Understanding how the new world works and the power of your employees can move your business to the top of the proverbial heap.
Listen to what your employees are saying about your customers. Encourage them to find out how customers are communicating and what parts of the Internet and social media are impacting their lives and your business.
Teach your employees about social media skills and how to interact with customers online. Don’t wait for some online disaster or social faux pas to define online behaviors. Different from Las Vegas, what happens on the Internet will travel the world. It’s now “world of mouth,” so learn how to take advantage of it.
Many businesses are pretending if they ignore social media it will no longer impact them. Social media is part of the DNA of our next generation, and it’s up to businesses to define the parameters of interaction for everyone.
Leaders need to progress to where they understand the constant changes in technology and take a strategic approach to define how this impacts how their employees work and what needs to change. Technology by itself is ineffective; what makes it impactful is the strategy behind it.
Experience combined with new technology is a winning strategy. It’s important to share your vision with your “technology smart” employees and ask what tools are available to achieve a positive outcome. The challenges haven’t changed, and the desired outcome is to build connections with your customers and turn these connections into sales. With today’s technology, the challenge is easier to face. You just need to reach out and empower those around you with the skills. Buy them all tablets and smart phones and put them to work.
Organizations seeking to evolve need to not only recognize the changes in technology and behavior, but also need to take a strategic approach to changing how their employees fundamentally work. Technology without strategy won’t get you very far.
The ability to connect and engage with people and information anywhere, anytime and on any device is fundamentally changing everything we know about how we work, how we lead and how we manage; it all started with the consumer web and social media. Now, these changes in behavior and technology are rapidly entering enterprises. The smart organizations are the ones that recognize this.