Thursday, December 22, 2011

Social Media and Management Skills

The oft-repeated comment that social media/networks are time wasters is one that needs to be dispelled with facts. When employees waste time it is not the tools such as social networks that are the culprit. It is a symptom of ineffective management. Employees have found a myriad of ways to waste time long before social networks, or emails, or the internet ever existed and they will continue to do so when they are not fully engaged, are not committed to the success of the organization, are not a good fit for the culture of the organization, do not have enough to challenge them in their work period, or have not established a solid work ethic. None of which requires a social media tool to create a problem, but all which does require good management and leadership skills to fix.

Internal social networks are used very effectively by several organizations to share information about products and services and projects; to share knowledge among co-workers that enhance customer service and enhance employee skills; to retain knowledge in the organization when employees move on; to improve overall communications especially in geographically diverse organizations. External social networks are used for marketing, resolving customer issues, sharing promotions/sales etc.; establishing a brand etc.

The thing about 'social' as a business or organizational tool is that it requires research and education to fully understand what it is and in what ways it can help or potentially harm an organization. I strongly recommend that people really do explore it carefully in order to understand it. The potential is amazing-and whether a business ignores it, bans it or embraces it-it will affect the sustainability, reputation and success of the business.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Dual Twelve Days of HR

As we are about to leave 2011 behind us I thought to write a few thoughts on HR and Leadership from the past which is a place I rarely go and then in a second post some thoughts for 2012 and perhaps beyond-we shall see how well I predict but it might depend on if there are any new app updates for my crystal ball.

The role of HR is often described in terms of functional responsibilities: recruiting, hiring, compensation, employee development, performance management etc. Yet most of what HR does involves problem solving for which there is no magic formula but can have far reaching implications if the solution doesn’t effectively resolve the problem. Some problems are straightforward and relatively easy to resolve, some types of problems are more complex and come with strong emotions. The first twelve days are just a small sampling of the problems that HR practitioners often encounter; the second twelve days are the ones that keep us going through the first twelve.

The Not So Great Twelve Days

1) employees experiencing domestic abuse
2) complaints of a manager, suppliers or customers harassing or bullying an employee
3) claims of discrimination over a missed promotion
4) employee to employee harassment, bullying, intimidation, physical assault
5) allegations of unethical conduct by senior level managers; allegations of unethical conduct by an employee from a customer or supplier
6) employees who discovered their great new ‘friend’ was a member of a violent and vengeful gang and did not know how to extricate themselves safely
7) sudden death of employees and/or employees who lose loved ones
8) drug, alcohol and gambling addictions
9) mental health concerns and catastrophic illnesses
10) employees under investigation by police for serious crimes
11) employees selling illegal drugs to co-workers and clients
12) employees using social media/networks that damages the reputation of the organization or another employee

The Happy Twelve Days of HR

1) that group of newly hired employees that hit the ground running-all hired after HR started using the newly designed recruiting and hiring program
2) the employees who took advantage of the employee development program to earn a degree or upgrade their skills and then earned a coveted new role
3) the co-workers who worked together to help a colleague with a serious illness get through it with huge support
4) the team who with a little push pulled together to create an excellent improvement project that reduced costs and improved safety
5) the employees that enthusiastically got behind a project to help improve their community
6) the employees that are great role models for the work ethic and desired culture also know as ‘leaders without titles’
7) the employees that seem to find new ways to make a great customer experience even better
8) the employees that bring ideas for problem solving or improvements whether it is in their job description or not
9) the managers that both intuitively and practically know how to build and maintain strong, creative and productive teams
10) the peer coaching and mentoring programs that increased knowledge retention and sharing by a significant percent
11) the managers who understand that HR is not the dumping ground for stuff they don’t want to deal with; are able to ask for and utilize coaching when needed
12) that HR contributes through leadership, commitment, continuous learning and resilience to all by what they do every single day

Monday, December 12, 2011

Linking Your Employee Experience to Customer Experience

Imagine your business just opened after months of planning, hiring and navigating regulatory requirements.

You oriented and trained your employees emphasizing that customer service is crucial to the success of your business.

You ran a social media campaign offering coupons to a specific number of people that followed you first. Just prior to opening day you sent out the coupons. Opening day arrives!

The First Two Weeks

The first two weeks of business provide a snapshot of what is working well and processes that may need some tweaking so you are busy observing and managing concerns as they arise.

The social media coupon program is paying off. Those followers you sent coupons to are bringing them in for their first experience of your new business. You budgeted for a specific number of coupons and have a list of people you sent them to so the employees can check them off as they are redeemed.

Glitches Happen

There is a glitch with the coupon, some of them are printing off without the identifying number required for redemption. This isn’t the customer’s fault but they are being told they cannot use the coupon without that number. The employee is standing firm-no number, no redemption. Your new business stands to lose a lot of customers over this issue, as it is hardly a welcome experience for the customers who made the trip to try it out. The customers with those coupons came via a social network and they likely will share their experience via social networks. There was another way of verifying that the coupon was valid but the employee was not aware of that.

What Does Human Resources Have To Do With This?

As the business owner you decide what level of autonomy employees will have, and what information to communicate and how often to do so. You determine training needs and the goals and objectives of employees and review and critique their performance. All of these decisions impact the way an employee will perform on the job, whether you are there supervising or out of sight managing other areas of your business. All of these actions are part of the human resources system within your business.

The Customer Experience

The processes and policies that you develop to manage the employee experience help establish the culture of the business. There is a direct link between the culture that is developed within your business and how successfully it reflects the brand you present externally. Is the overall experience of your employees a mirror of the experience you advocate for your customers? Are your processes, procedures and policies organized in such a way that they enable employees to conduct their responsibilities so that they provide the desired customer experience?


• Establish and communicate the values for your business. Do this using different methods and content and repeat the message often enough that it becomes embedded in the culture and is part of the voice of your employees. A few examples are face-to-face meetings, email messages, and tags on pay statements.

• Discuss the desired culture with employees, solicit their ideas, and focus on the specifics as to how that culture will show up in action.

• Communicate and make decisions based on the values that drive the culture and do so consistently.

• Provide training and support so that your employees feel confident when carrying out the responsibilities of their job.

• Set up multiple communication channels so that employees are able to let you and their co-workers know what affects their ability to do their job well and what kind of experience they observe your customers having.