Thursday, September 30, 2010

Can 'one size' fit all for employee participation in Social Media?

As companies begin to realize that employee participation in Social Media is a key component of future strategies, they often jump right to the conclusion that all employees should be trained and encouraged to participate.  This has worked in previous deployments, so why not for social participation?  Shouldn't it be as easy as training employees on how to use the tools?  Or, perhaps an across-the-board HR initiative to have managers include participation in everyone's performance reviews? 

We are learning that there will be a spectrum of participation, based on many factors,many of which are not related to social.  Think about it:  it's dependent alot on one's personality.  Some people are outgoing, while others prefer to work in small teams.  Some are good communicators, while others prefer to focus more on project execution.   It's clear that you can't force participation.  If you attempt to require and measure participation, people will find a way to 'game' the system to meet the numbers.  Unfortunately, this will not help to achieve your overall business goals.  The recommendation is to encourage and enable those employees who are interested.  Allow them to put together their personal plans, provide them with easy ways to help them measure their progress, and set appropriate levels of expectations.

This is a journey, not a sprint.  Motivation will come by showcasing successful examples of people who have gained benefit (both personal and business) from participation.  It's helpful to showcase a wide range of people, from peers through executives.

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