For a solid decade between the mid 90’s and early 2000’s I worked retail. As a store manager back then you waited every day for “communication from the home office”. Generally in the form of a conference call or a memo. Communication flowed one way- down from the executives. Feedback was rare and really only given to your immediate supervisor.
Chatter and the social business have changed that, thankfully. We can now use technology not to distance ourselves from each other but to connect in ways that we in the course of human history have never been able to. Right now 2/3 of the US Adult population owns a smartphone, double the amount from just three years ago. Think of that- 2 in 3 people own a device more powerful than the Apollo 13 computer and it’s in their pocket!
Reasons to get your CEO on Chatter
Today it would be hard for me to imagine not using social and collaboration tools to get work done. From Twitter to Slack, Chatter, the list goes on- all tools that allow me to work from anywhere there is an internet connection. And with that, I can produce content, share experiences, and keep my team members up to date. This is not a new concept, we talked to Luis Suarez who has been working remotely and using social for years.
Sadly, not everyone in organizations is embracing this collaboration culture. See the Forbes article “Social Media Use By CEOs Is Increasing—Slowly“. I disagree with the article’s conclusion- the return on investment isn’t hazy if they care about gaining valuable customer feedback and insight. I’ve heard/read all of the excuses and frankly, they don’t make any sense given the current technology. What I would like to do is address the 4 reasons your CEO needs to be themselves on Chatter.
By engaging with your company on Chatter a CEO builds trust with every post. Trust in the vision, trust in their leadership skills, trust in the support of each employee. Your employees joined the company because they want to be part of something bigger than themselves- it’s the reason people volunteer and engage in sporting activities- they want to a part of something monumental. I bet it’s the reason many of your employees joined the company. With each post that comes from you, the CEO, they get insight into the vision and reinforcement that the organization is on-course.
The days of being a secluded CEO are over. No longer can you sit in your ivory tower only to casually engage with employees. So immediately you are thinking- “But I have thousands of employees. I can’t waste time engaging with all of them. I have a business to run.” Wrong. Your employees have the business to run, your job is to be their leader. And I would ask- don’t all of your employees have your email address already? Or isn’t there a corporate directory they could look it up? If so, they probably aren’t emailing you like crazy- so engaging on Chatter will be the same. Your community- your employees- will self-correct. They will engage with you when they see the need for your guidance. At @mentioning a CEO on chatter is not any harder than typing in the CEO’s email address.
When your employees see your avatar pop up on their timeline they naturally assume it’s you- and they should. It should be you. No one can be you and no one should be you. There is a certain excitement that anyone gets when they engage (see there is that word again) with someone whose opinion they admire and respect. Case in point- Only you can be you. Don’t fake it.
“The more transparent an organization is, the healthier and more productive it’s going to be and the less trouble it’s going to get into.” – Warren Bennis, Leadership Expert (link to article). I can’t think of a better way to open this topic than with that quote. Transparency leads to collaboration. Your act of sharing an industry article that you found relevant, or leading a discussion around a customer’s problem shows that you encourage a transparent organization. Transparency shows you are involved with the company at all levels, by being active on Chatter you can engage with employees that may need that extra boost of inspiration or encouragement.
Next Steps to get your CEO on Chatter
This is where you know your CEO better than I do. But fundamentally there are a few things we can do to make a Salesforce Admin’s life better and get a more active and engaged CEO on Chatter.
First, get organized. Make a list of what you want to talk about to your CEO before you set the meeting. I’d suggest covering the basic mechanical aspects of Chatter- that it’s “an internal collaboration network”. I don’t refer to Chatter in relation to Facebook or Twitter.
Next up, check to see if they have a picture posted online- like Linkedin, Twitter, or your corporate directory. If not, get their social avatar or one from the corporate directory and post it for them. Yes, I know it’s not hard but it’s the little things that make this easier. Then set up the meeting. Cover what Chatter is, the fundamentals of how to post and make sure you install it on their smartphone. Show them how to check it and stress that it’s no harder to check Chatter than it is to check email.
Finally, encourage them to post an update. What I did was write a few out for them to give them flavor what an update is like.
The biggest takeaway to leave with them is that no matter their level of initial engagement remind them how much a little encouragement means. It can be as simple as liking a post. But in that ‘Like’ they show trust and engagement- which can’t and shouldn’t be faked.