Does your organisation have a Social Media Policy? A Technology Policy? A BYOD (bring your own device) Policy? A Policy for Creating Policies Policy?
While (as someone who has worked in People & Culture for quite a while and is a bit of a Type A) I appreciate the value of a good policy which helps manage a business need, I think we have a tendency to sometimes get carried away with policies and use them in a reactive, rather than a productive manner.
An excellent example of this is having a Social Media Policy – so many organisations implement these in fear of social media and what employees may say about them online, they forget that anything that an employee says about them in a public forum (like in a town meeting, or on an open Facebook page) can be covered by the Code of Conduct. Why do we insist of having a separate rule book to outlaw/overly police social media?
More often than not it is because the decision makers are scared of what they don’t understand.
Unfortunately this has a negative impact on productive learning within organisations when one of the best tools is treated like it ran over the sheriff’s dog intentionally. Social media isn’t the enemy! It can be a wonderful way to (freely) encourage people to champion their own learning, to build networks, to find resources, to stay up to date in their field. Yes you have to manage its use; you don’t want everyone playing Farmville during work-time. But if you do it right, self-directed learning is such a great way to motivate your staff (and don’t think this is just a Millennial thing, everyone can get involved).
Just a few examples of where I’ve seen this work spectacularly;
– organisations running Facebook ‘Private Closed Groups’ as a way to give a positive ‘shout out’ to fellow staff members and engage in a professional forum – incidental learning and connections can be made within the organisation to promote self-development and informal coaching
– organisations encouraging employees to use professional networking tools such as LinkedIn (or the soon to be released Facebook equivalent) to generate leads, engage with stakeholders and join professional LinkedIn Groups to stay up to date on specific sector knowledge
– professionals using Twitter as both a networking tool and as a way to find out about the latest developments in their field.
Don’t be scared!
Encouraging your employees to network, widen their horizons and stay up to date with professional advances isn’t nearly as scary as losing them and their skills to a competitor who trusts them in managing their own learning. If you put a good framework in place, encourage sensible usage and get your organisation’s leaders on board with making the most of these tools then the returns you receive will far outweigh the effort put in.