According to Starbucks’ Howard Schultz, “The currency of leadership is transparency.” From publishing pay information to inviting all employees to every meeting, many organizations strive to become more and more transparent to both employees and the public. But transparency does not have to be as radical as sharing how salaries are calculated. A more sustainable yet progressive demonstration is the endorsement and inclusion of social media into a company’s human capital management strategy.
Just Say No…to Policy
Mandating how employees use their personal social media accounts does not translate into sound human resources management. Just as an employer should not dictate how employees spend their time off, it should not tell someone what he may or may not share online. In fact, the National Labor Relations Board has been steadily cracking down on strict workplace social media policies. Instead, a company should make clear its formal stance and provide guidelines on how employees may best represent the company on the web. In it’s corporate (and public) blog, Adidas encourages open communication and informs employees to “tell the world about your work and share your passion.”
Encourage Best Practices
Lead by example. CEOs, directors, and managers who actively use social media influence their employees to do the same. Their affirmation also promotes transparency. Though many executives have not yet embraced social media, they should at minimum, have a professional online profile that is accurate, up-to-date, and sets the standard for others. For example, LinkedIn provides a modern day business card and resume wrapped into one convenient package and serves as an effective networking tool that can lead to new business opportunities.
Be a Coach
Teach employees how to use social media effectively. Include “Social Media 101” as a topic in new employee training programs. Gloria Burke, Chief Knowledge Officer and Global Practice Portfolio Leader of Unified Social Business at Unisys, says, “Offering such training creates a team of advocates who are equipped to represent their employer online . . . you’re empowering them to be more confident and effective in what they’re sharing.” Additionally, designate official company social media ambassadors to mentor associates on how to establish or enhance their personal online brand.
Whether or not an organization formally endorses social media, tools to facilitate communication among staff members should be implemented to encourage teamwork and increase productivity. Both Salesforce and Microsoft offer enterprise social networks as features within their products. In 2011, Nationwide launched Spot, a social intranet built on Yammer and SharePoint. Today, nearly all of its 36,000 employees are more engaged, better connected, and have access to the expertise they need to get their work done, resulting in an annual savings of $1.5 million.
As a result of the growing influence of social media, employees have become a much more valuable marketing resource. Each time a press release is circulated, a new blog post is published, or a key event is publicized, everyone should be informed, and suggested tweets should be shared. The aforementioned ambassadors may also serve as key brand promoters within the firm and with customers. If employees are too busy to keep up with Twitter, then offer support to post and retweet on their behalf. Applications like Hootsuite make it easy by allowing users to schedule activity for multiple accounts.
An obvious motivation for formalizing an organization’s social media program is to avoid public relations disasters. But, more importantly, it inspires transparency. If a company embraces employee participation in social networks, then it need not worry about what employees discuss on the web. Instead, workers will feel empowered to contribute to the organization’s success via the online community.
- Discussing with two of my aunts my bosom size and how lucky I was to be well endowed. I was TEN.
- Inviting my boyfriend (if you can even call him that) in the 7th grade and his mother over for tea. So embarrassing. I don’t even think I spoke more than 20 words to him the whole time we went steady, let alone stare lovingly into his eyes. Sorry, Bas.
- Treating me like a princess for a day. I think I was 7 or 8 years old. Even though I was the only child living at home by that time, my mom still made a big deal out of it.
- Insisting that I take private Portuguese lessons over Christmas break even though we had just moved to Sao Paulo, Brazil, and my language teacher had decided not to give me a grade as I was so new.
- Not insisting that I continue to take ballet or guitar lessons. Thank you, mom.
- Buying me a paperback copy of Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care two months after Christian was born. Perhaps it was her way of telling me I wasn’t doing it right. But, at least, she did not judge.
- Walking through the snow and ice in Pittsburgh during the winter of 1979 to catch the bus out to Northway Elementary School. It was miserable, but we did it every school day for several months. We had just moved back to the States after 5 years in Western Australia. And, my new classmates were weird.
- Walking everywhere. All of the time. Mom loved to walk fast.
- Making and eating pie. Mom used to bake them when I was little, lemon meringue in particular. But, in later years, she was always on the hunt for a competent, made-from-scratch piece of pie.
Writing of these few memories reminds me how my mom taught me to be open minded, to embrace different cultures and experiences, and to love and be loyal to my family. I only hope I can provide my son with half of the memories mom left me.
Don’t judge me. Recently, upon checking in for my I-hate-this-with-a-vengeance annual OB/GYN visit, the receptionist asked me what my religious preference is. I found this puzzling. Why does it matter? Does this have to do with the Affordable Care Act? After a brief pause, I answered, “Agnostic.” Plain and simple.
In his August 30, 2014, column, Frank Bruni expressed my sentiments exactly. In it, he discusses Sam Harris’s new book, “Waking Up.” Harris is a well-known atheist. What caught my eye and nailed it for me was what Bruni said about religion in America today:
I’m not casting a vote for godlessness at large or in my own spiritual life, which is muddled with unanswered and unanswerable questions. I’m advocating unfettered discussion, ample room for doubt and a respect for science commensurate with the fealty to any supposedly divine word. We hear the highest-ranking politicians mention God at every turn and with little or no fear of negative repercussion. When’s the last time you heard one of them wrestle publicly with agnosticism?
I come from a religious mixed bag. In my family history, there are hell fire-and-brimstone Southern Baptist traditions. I was baptized a Presbyterian, attended several different Protestant churches in Pinjarra, Western Australia, and received my first Communion in an Anglican church in Sao Paulo, Brazil. As empty-nesters, seeking fulfillment elsewhere, my parents converted to Catholicism.
In 2012, the Pew Research Center released a study, ‘Nones’ on the Rise. According to Pew, one-fifth of American adults have no religious affiliation, a trend that has for years been on the rise. Whether this is a positive trend or not is up for debate. But, to avoid assumptions and allow for openminded and unprejudiced (dare I say fair and balanced?) discussion is unequivocally important.
I respect one’s freedom to worship and think one religion is no better, no more righteous than the other. God, Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Ganesh…they’re all the same in my eyes. Selecting who or what to worship is a very personal decision.
I did it. I took a restaurant reviewer up on a recommendation and dove in. Manhattan is a daunting place–one does not decide what to eat but rather where to eat. It’s definitely not Charleston where there are maybe two or three worthwhile Asian spots. Leaning towards ordering room service, I checked the menu and nearly coughed up my lunch. $19.25 for a grilled cheese??? On my feet went my wide, white, I-am-a-tourist New Balance 940’s, and I headed down 7th Avenue, after a short detour to Central Park, to try my first izakaya.
Even more daunting was knowing what to order…such pressure to fit in, to be cool. So, I asked my new friends at the bar. I’m going back. To Sake Bar Hagi.