In my experience, if you place your trust in people they will generally behave accordingly. As business owners we spend a lot of time and money hiring – searching for the best people we can find, and then putting them in a job with responsibilities. What message does it then give to them if you then say ‘sorry, Facebook is banned here’?
Instead of trying to manage people’s time, I prefer to manage the results and allow people to manage their own time accordingly.
Social media is just another way to communicate
Do you have a telephone policy? A fax policy? A restaurant conversations policy? Social media is simply one more way to communicate, and conversations can happen anywhere. The technology itself is neither good nor bad. Creating a policy for each technology is the wrong way to go about managing the risks.
More rules and regulation just put people off
In my opinion you should be encouraging your staff onto social media. It helps create a human face to your organisation, enables you to engage where your customers are congregating and empowers each employee to be a proud representative of your company. No employee wants to get into trouble and more rules will simply make employees hesitant to engage in the very behaviour you should want to encourage.
You probably already have all the rules you need
You probably have an employee handbook in place that has all the rules and regulations you could possibly need to define what is, and is not, appropriate behaviour. It’ll likely cover things like discriminatory behaviour, immoral and illegal activities, how to behave with customers and colleagues and how to handle confidential information. You can violate those regulations in person, on the phone, and yes, in social media.
Do you really need another policy for this particular technology?
What should you do instead?
So if you don’t have a social media policy, what should you do instead?
Well, as I have written before, no policy will be able to cover all aspects of a conversation. Instead you need values. Values enable employees to make smart decisions by themselves about how to engage.
Don’t Zappos values say everything staff need to know about how to engage with people on social media? Microsoft’s blog policy is famously two words: Blog Smart. It’s about empowering staff to make smart decisions based on company values.
Instead of creating a bunch of command and control rules that nobody reads, think about the values that embody your company and how you can use them to enable staff to make decisions by themselves, engage customers, and win new business.
What do you think? Any other ideas to add?