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Doug Shaw

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CIPD Conference Blog: Social media and knowing what not to fear


I and many others attended Neil Morrison‘s social media session at #cipd11. Loads of good stuff being shared and a healthy dash of British toilet humour thrown in for good measure.

Here’s a summary of what I heard and learned:

Numbers: Neil started showing us some huge numbers, in the hour to follow 5,000 blogs would be written, millions of tweets sent. These numbers show us that social media is not a passing trend.
Control: Can you control what goes on social media? No more than you can control what people think and say, so don’t try to.
Fear: maybe around loss of reputation? So an employee tweets a ‘bad day’ message and gets sacked for it. The story ends up in the Metro and the company are embarrassed. Who made the bigger mistake? Ever seen an acceptable newspaper use policy? No – so why do you need one for social media?
Fear: what about loss of productivity? To suggest this shows contempt for your employees. If you have a productivity issue, social media is not your problem.
Fear: IT security perhaps? Emails spread viruses much more than social media, perhaps you should ban email instead?
HR as the Sheriff: Your first job as sheriff is to make sure HR don’t write a stupid policy on social media. Your second job is to make sure IT don’t write an even stupider social media policy. Done that? Good – now throw away the badge.
Lead the way: HR best placed to lead a connected conversation between employees, customers and others.
Learning: Neil told us that social media is an invaluable part of his continuous professional development. It gives him ideas, a place to share concerns, do more thinking and learning, helps with business leads and recruitment.
Easy: Social media is easy and those who tell you otherwise are resitant or trying to sell you consultancy. At Random House where Neil is Group HRD, their approach to social media is organic, or as Neil put it, ‘slightly disorganised’.
Tools Trust and Toilets: Random House allow staff access to all social tools. If they didn’t, staff would just disappear into the toilet and tweet from there! We’d rather trust our people, foster adult to adult relationships – trust beats control every time.
Courage: courage is knowing what not to fear. Social media can help you empower, educate, encourage and experiment.
Thought provoking stuff from a bright, sharp HR Director. I hope many in attendance at this busy session go on and follow Neil’s lead.
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Doug Shaw


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