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Thursday, June 17, 2021

CEO Insider

Why Leaders Can No Longer Ignore Their Employees’ Social Media Content.

Business leaders everywhere can no longer afford to ignore what their employees are saying on social media.

Here’s why.

There’s just too much valuable information shared by your people that impacts your organization’s climate.

Face it; your employees look to social media how my father turned to the newspaper back in the 1990s. Whether or not a newspaper was reputable did not matter to him; all that mattered was that it was first to deliver information that shaped how my father saw the world. In the same sense, social media shapes how your employees see their workplace, and nothing can be more legit than that.

The newspapers of the past had a significant disadvantage in contrast to the social media of today. Those newspapers had minimal input from everyday people—people like the ones who fill your office spaces and warehouses. Now, your workers express their opinions in memes, posts, and blogs across the social media universe for everyone to see.

They post about your business:

-Your employees complain online about the latest organizational policies that frustrate them.

-Your people share best practices and better ways of doing business.

-Your teams highlight the toxic leaders that are pushing them out your doors.

You get the point. Your people post information that is important to you as a leader.

Moreover, because Facebook and Instagram users share posts regularly, social media platforms are more effective at gathering data than surveys. Social media venues provide a continuous stream of updated data. In contrast, surveys provide a static snapshot in time. But gathering essential information is not as easy as sending a friend request. It requires a deliberate strategy.

Between the selfies and the pictures of the sushi they ate for lunch, your employees post information essential to how they view your organization’s culture. So how do you go about implementing an information operation that delivers quality intelligence?  Simple. Follow the leader.

My organization has designed a system comprising of three components: 

  1. Assign a team leader to monitor social media for critical information.
  2. Post positive feedback about employee performance and conduct.
  3. Empower leaders to take action based on data acquired from social media.

Assign a team leader to monitor social media for critical information. 

The first step is to assign leaders to monitor employee posts to gather critical information. This initiative is directly linked to our leadership development program and promotes decentralized control.

Mid-level supervisors are assigned to observe trends while identifying critical information (CI). CI is any data that relates to the organization used to make a leadership decision. For example, Jane Smith posts about having a bad day because she was late to work. Jane’s post is validated as CI because it connects to starting her workday. Perhaps Jane had car trouble and could use some assistance; leaders are encouraged to make a decision based on this type of data and send someone to help. These small gestures make a world of difference.

Post positive feedback about employee performance and conduct.

The information operations go farther than just collecting CI. Leaders are empowered to espouse the way we view our employees and build positive connections. Many younger employees live with negative stereotypes given to them from outside of the organization. Our teammates get reminders from these outsiders that they are entitled, lazy, and weak compared to yesterday’s generations.

As you are well aware, this type of banter is not valid. Our organizations contain hundreds of humble, hardworking, and resilient young employees. As organizational leaders, our job is to let them know that we disagree with this false narrative and appreciate their hard work. So, our organization has leaders write posts about how grateful we are on social media. The results are impressive.

Recently, our organization won an online contest as the best leadership team to work for in 2020. We received 4000 votes to our competition’s 900 votes on a predominant Instagram page. Our information operations had paid off. We found that our people love to work for us because we adjust our culture based on their social media feedback.

Empower leaders to take action based on data acquired from social media. 

Beyond superficial accolades, what makes us most proud is that our mid-level leaders have gone above and beyond the call of duty. One of our organization’s most triumphant moments has been the prevention of an employee’s suicide. During a quick stop to one of her team’s pages, a mid-level leader was able to assess the warning signs and respond rapidly. She called first-responders and assisted in getting the ill employee professional help. Without the right organizational climate, leader’s engagement, and quick decision making, who knows what would have happened.


Written by Ernest R. Twigg.

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Ernest R. Twigg
Ernest R. Twigg is an award-winning senior executive advisor, author, and speaker at 1st Battalion, 11th Marines. He leads 850 employees and has consulted c-suites across industries to unleash the leadership potential in their employees. Ernest's insight is sought after and is codified in his book "A Leader Provides" and various magazine articles that transcribes military leadership into private-sector gains. Ernest lives in California, where he spends his days playing chess and studying human performance, neuroscience, and leadership. Ernest R. Twigg is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow him on LinkedIn.