The Challenge with Executive Participation
This week in our online customer chat forum called Office Hours, we had grand plans to get down to business talking about Executive participation in enterprise social networks. Technology wasn’t on our side and a jammed SMTP server meant that we had a few difficulties and didn’t really get a good chance to chat it out.
None-the-less, I shared a few of my own stories with the community, and I thought for the benefit of those who missed out and the world at large I’d summarize them here.
Participation and buy-in are not the same
Almost all enterprise social networks, whether from a ground-swell of public opinion, response to a trend, or a genuine desire from leadership to collaborate have executive buy-in (after all they did pay for it right?). But many make the mistake of thinking that buy-in and participation are one and the same. Stop right there if that’s you! They’re not. Sometimes you might chip away at the engaged exec for years before they truly participate without help. This is okay, keep chipping!
Our CEO Daniel Kraft works out loud with customers every Monday morning.
Simple is not stupid
Execs are super busy, normal human beings just like us. They just have bigger decisions to make and larger problems to deal with. Making your enterprise social initiative seem easy as pie will encourage them to check it out more often. Explain to your leaders that even simply liking a post every other day goes a long way to validating the existence of the network. Have you seen how excited an employee gets when the CEO like’s their idea or post? Try it!
Call it reverse mentoring, call it executive assistance, call it whatever you like! Education does work. In my experience, a simple overview of the network, the basic controls, and especially mobile access is a giant leap to getting your execs to join in the conversation. When I’ve hosted reverse mentoring sessions, some execs have had to call up their kids to get their own iTunes password. Don’t assume they know more than you because they are more senior. Offer support and I bet they will accept it.
CEO’s want positive behaviors from their employees because that leads to better business and many companies have a pre-defined set of behaviors to subscribe to. I strongly encourage you to get your C-suite to model the behaviors they desire from the workforce. Simple participation in collaboration sets a great example for the organization to do the same, and aligning the values of the network with the values and behaviors of your organization will also further help you achieve success!
What have you experienced when getting your leaders onboard? Easy trip? Still trying? I’d love to hear what worked and what didn’t.