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Why executives can no longer ignore their employees’ social media content.


Business leaders around the world can no longer afford to ignore what their employees are saying on social media.

Here’s why.

There is simply too much valuable information shared by your employees that impacts the climate of your organization.

Face it; your employees are watching on social media how my father turned to the newspaper in the 90s. He didn’t care whether a newspaper was reputable or not; all that mattered was that it was all about providing information that shaped the way my father saw the world. In a similar vein, social media shapes the way your employees view their workplace, and nothing can be more legitimate than that.

Newspapers from the past had one major drawback compared to social media today. These newspapers had minimal contributions from ordinary people, people like those who fill your desks and warehouses. Now your employees are expressing their opinions in memes, posts and blogs across the world of social media for everyone to see.

They publish about your business:

-Your employees complain online about the latest organizational policies that frustrate them.

-Your employees share best practices and the best ways of doing business.

-Your teams highlight the toxic leaders who push them out of your home.

You get the point. Your people post information that is important to you as a leader.

Additionally, since Facebook and Instagram users regularly share posts, social media platforms are more efficient at collecting data than surveys. Social media sites provide a continuous flow of updated data. In contrast, surveys provide a static snapshot over time. But collecting essential information isn’t as easy as sending a friend request. It requires a deliberate strategy.

Between selfies and photos of the sushi they ate at lunch, your employees post information essential to their perception of your organization’s culture. So how do you go about setting up an information operation that delivers quality intelligence? Simple. Follow the leader.

My organization has designed a system that has three elements:

  1. Designate a team leader to monitor social media for critical information.
  2. Post positive reviews about employee performance and conduct.
  3. Empower leaders to take action based on data gained from social media.

Designate a team leader to monitor social media for critical information.

The first step is to assign leaders to monitor employee positions to gather critical information. This initiative is directly linked to our leadership development program and promotes decentralized control.

Mid-level supervisors are responsible for observing trends while identifying critical information (CI). CI is any organization-related data used to make a leadership decision. For example, Jane Smith writes that she had a bad day because she was late for work. Jane’s message is validated as CI because she logs in at the start of her working day. Maybe Jane had some car trouble and needed help; leaders are encouraged to make a decision based on this kind of data and send someone to help. These small gestures make all the difference.

Post positive reviews about employee performance and conduct.

Information operations go beyond simply collecting CIs. Leaders are empowered to embrace the way we see our people and make positive connections. Many younger employees live with negative stereotypes given to them from outside the organization. Our teammates are getting reminders from these strangers that they are entitled, lazy and weak compared to the generations of yesterday.

As you well know, this kind of banter is not valid. Our organizations have hundreds of humble, hardworking and resilient young employees. As leaders of organizations, our job is to let them know that we disagree with this false narrative and that we appreciate their hard work. So our organization has leaders who write articles about our gratitude on social media. The results are impressive.

Recently, our organization won an online competition as the best leadership team to work for in 2020. We received 4000 votes out of 900 votes in our competition on a predominant Instagram page. Our information operations have borne fruit. We have found that our employees enjoy working for us because we adapt our culture based on their comments on social media.

Empower leaders to take action based on data gained from social media.

Beyond the superficial distinctions, what makes us most proud is that our mid-level leaders have gone beyond the call of duty. One of the most successful moments in our organization was preventing employee suicide. During a brief stop on one of his team’s pages, a mid-level leader was able to assess the warning signs and react quickly. She called first responders and helped get professional help from the sick employee. Without the right organizational climate, the commitment of the leader and quick decision-making, who knows what would have happened.

Written by Ernest R. Twigg.

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