One of the most challenging things for communicators who are attempting to introduce social media into their organisation is getting everyone to the same level of knowledge. It is only to be expected that there will be early adopters, those that follow and then the latecomers. If you add in the hierarchical nature of many organisations then the mix can be a real problem. What happens when a middle manager with a lack of understanding about social doesn’t like the tweet or post?
Social media, like many changes in the workplace, can be seen as a threat, a distraction, a novelty, or as a strange and unknown world. It will always take some time to share knowledge and skills across the business. There is no easy way of getting everyone to the same point. People are all different and will approach things from their personal perspective.
The most important thing is how, as communicators, we deal with this issue. Will we put pressure on the latecomers? Will we impose sanctions on staff who may get a bit exuberant? Will we allow senior staff who don’t understand social networking to decide what does and doesn’t work? Will we be prepared to invest time and energy into training and sharing skills to everyone in the organisation? Will we stand up for what we believe or know is the right path?
Senior people and middle managers are often among the last to gain an understanding of social networking. They are often older and struggle to get to grips with the informality, the conventions of networks and the merging of personality into work based communication. If they look at what more junior colleagues are doing it is easy for them to become nervous and possibly to overreact. As communicators it is our responsibility to stand firm on what is acceptable and appropriate and to be able to articulate that to the uninitiated. We also have to make sure that we can provide appropriate training and learning opportunities for everyone.
The basic motto is ‘keep calm and carry on’. Don’t let bosses with a lack of knowledge derail your work to embed social media in the organisation. Be strong, be determined and you will start to reap the rewards.