A recent blog post in the Harvard Business Review’s “Conversation” section is a good commentary on the reluctance of most large companies to introduce social media inside their workplace. The authors go on to list several good reasons why companies should leverage social media within their organizations – including studies suggesting boosts in productivity and collaboration and the increasing relevance of millenials who will expect social media technology. (The Robert Half study mentioned in the post is here.)
Like these authors, I’m disappointed and puzzled at the resistance among many corporations to consider social media (which I’ve witnessed more times than naught) but if you dig a bit deeper it’s only the latest evidence of the lack of genuine commitment for internal communications in some major companies. As an example, let’s use something that is ostensibly much less threatening than social media – say manager communications. For years we’ve heard about the importance of managers in effective employee communications…many still see managers as the secret sauce for engaging employees. And most corporate leaders typically voice strong support for robust, relevant employee communication. Yet, some companies still refuse to allow their managers any time for formal communication under the premise that time is money (and presumably keeping employees informed is not worth paying for.) Others pay lip-service to the manager cascade model but provide limited direction, incentive or training to make sure it happens. In some cases, managers are not even given (or allowed) access to computer terminals so they can proactively stay informed. Clearly, some companies do not buy into the concept that candid two-communication and collaboration is good for business. While some companies are celebrated for building strong manager-led communication models (like FedEx) too many others prefer the path of least resistance…and investment.
In view of this dirty little secret, it’s not surprising that most companies won’t consider a more progressive approach that embraces social networks, collaborative software or blogs inside the enterprise. They are still fighting last decade’s battle. The result is a corporate landscape where the gap between the leaders and laggards is getting bigger every year.