Saturday, February 12, 2011

Social Media and the Chain of Command

With the advent and speed of Social media, how are organizations able to move fast enough to take advantage of fast moving trends or negate the effects of negative social media? Especially, when changes within social media happen so quickly, within nano seconds. Do companies have the time to have disempowered leadership at the middle or bottom of the organization? I believe the answer to be, No.

With a companies reputation and bottom line at risk every time someone sends out negative feedback or vibe into social media. Companies must be able to respond just as quick. If an organization is set-up, in a traditional top to bottom hierarchy, then by the time the top brass gets the decision back down to the right people, the damage is done and can be irreversible. Likewise, if you are to stay ahead of the competition, you must be able to take advantage of a positive feedback or opportunity as well.

How does a company prepare it's leadership, at all levels, for dealing with continuous decision making?
  • Training: Train your employees from top to bottom about the pitfalls and advantages of utilizing social media. Develop and outline protocol of social media use in reference to your business. Create policy on how to respond to social media as if it where a risk management situation. Role play with your people, allowing them the opportunity to see how the processes work outside of a real world, real time. That way, when they are faced with the real world decision, they can be more comfortable about the systems in place to make it. Most importantly, train your people how to quickly asses a situation and the make a fast, but good decision. 
  • Lessons learned: Continually train your leadership about what has worked and what hasn't. Take not only the bad from your own company, look outside at other companies and learn from their mistakes. If you are constantly evaluating your decision making it will continue to get better. Take those decisions that were OK and learn what would have made them great. Then get that information out to your people. That way, next time one of your leaders is attempting to asses a situation and make the same decision, they will know how to make a better decision. 
  • Executive mentoring: Have your top brass mentor you middle management and key first line supervisors in how to asses situation quickly and then make a decision. This will help them develop their decision making skills, by allowing them direct access to experienced leaders and decision makers.
  • Develop an internal social media network within the company: Create a fast and efficient network where people can share and dispense information as it happens, allowing the appropriate decision maker the ability to quickly process it and make a decision. Also, a great way to share lessons learned and allow top executives the ability to interact with all.
  • Placement of decision makers: Understand that you cannot have a top to bottom chain of command any longer. You must position leaders with the ability to make decisions at each level of leadership. They have to understand that it is much more important to make a call, even if it's not the best call, then no call. If your waiting to plan out, forecast and look at predications, your decision making will continually fall behind and effect your business negatively. 
  • Freedom to act: With all of the above in place, this will allow a greater comfort level for your lower leadership to quickly asses situations and make decisions without causing heart attacks at the higher levels. Also, the experience in decision making will only improve your stockpile of available leaders to move up and grow your company. 
The hard part about all of this is letting go of the reins and stop being a control freak. Evaluate and promote your best decision makers. Thereby, having a continuous pipeline of leaders who have shown they can make a good call. Remember, a good call is better then no call. With the speed of social media, a no call could destroy your business in a matter of minutes. 

2 comments:

Noah Lomax said...

Greg,

Excellent advice!

Two points that you hit on really stuck out to me:
1. How important it is to "look outside at other companies and learn." Many companies insist (almost in arrogance) that if they can't find a way that there must not be away. It is almost as if to say, "We will make our own mistakes!"

2. Executive mentoring is huge! Teams contribute much more when they understand the heart of their leaders and the vision is clear in their eyes. What a difference this can make!

Thanks for the great article!
Noah Lomax
www.noahlomax.com

Voices of Leadership said...

Noah,

Thanks for stopping in and commenting. I'm glad that you found the article useful.

Best wishes,
Greg

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