Leaders are Failing to Engage Employees on Social Platforms

You might think that after pandemic-induced remote and hybrid work leaders would have embraced social collaboration platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Yammer, or Facebook Workplace.

A recent report by Knowman showed that the effect of the pandemic has been that 64% of organizations indicate an increase in leadership activity on their chosen social platform but only 18% of leaders use the platform to create dialogue around important topics, and only 8% have a structured approach for doing so. 

When I was researching for ๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ก๐—ฒ๐˜„ ๐—Ÿ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜€๐—ต๐—ถ๐—ฝ ๐—ฃ๐—น๐—ฎ๐˜†๐—ฏ๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—ธ: ๐—•๐—ฒ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—›๐˜‚๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐—ช๐—ต๐—ถ๐—น๐˜€๐˜ ๐—ฆ๐˜‚๐—ฐ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜€๐—ณ๐˜‚๐—น๐—น๐˜† ๐——๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ถ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—”๐—ฐ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—ฅ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜‚๐—น๐˜๐˜€ (Ocean Reeve Publishing 2022), I spoke to many leaders who were looking forward to putting the pandemic behind them, getting everyone back to work, and returning to traditional management techniques. This traditional mindset ignores, at great cost, the gains made through collaboration, team performance, and employee engagement that mature use of social collaboration can deliver.

Mature Leadership with Social Collaboration Platforms

OrangeTrail's Social Collaboration Maturity Model measures the maturity of the activities organizations perform on their social communication and collaboration platforms. It has 7 focus areas: leaders, internal communications, teams, communities, innovation, support functions, and employees.

Maturity is about becoming faster, smarter, and more agile. In this article, I want to use the findings of the report to focus on how leaders are failing at this, and how they can be better.

Despite the fact that organizations now depend on social tools, most leaders have not learned to collaborate digitally. Traditional leaders know how to talk to people (broadcasting) but they do not know how to converse with people in a digital format. When you broadcast, people become passive and reluctant to change, leading leaders to conclude that the failure is that of the platform rather than their own ability to adapt.

Used well, social technology:

  • helps leaders get employees more engaged with business objectives
  • helps leaders clarify direction and priorities
  • increases the focus and speed of the organization
  • broadens leaders’ visibility over what employees are doing, discussing, worried about, or identifying as opportunities
  • raises leaders’ profiles, extending their reach
  • narrows the gap between leaders and employees.

Despite these benefits, as previously mentioned, only 8% of leaders are using social platforms in a purposeful, structured, and strategic way.

How Leaders must Change

As a writer, speaker, and coach on self-leadership, I am fond of the mantra:

"You can't lead others unless you first lead yourself"

Leaders expect their employees to change but many are failing to change themselves in this new environment. Step one is to STOP drawing the conclusion that a lack of engagement by employees is due to a lack of time in the office, and stop broadcasting, it doesn't work.

START having engaging conversations around topics that are important to employees, such as diversity and inclusion, or dealing with stress when working from home. Start sharing, in real time what you are working on and the decisions you are making. Invite employees to comment on their ideas and insights.

CONTINUE to highlight good behaviors, but use the social platform rather than in private conversation or waiting for the company offsite.

As leaders start to see the positive outcomes of asking questions and the resulting contributions, they can more strategically use the platform to help them:

  • make people aware of changing contexts in which the organization will need to adjust
  • turn that awareness into readiness to change
  • communicate the change and have people understand the impact on them personally
  • get people to help and inspire each other to make the change
  • refocus the organization on its core
  • align the organization around its key priorities.

Leaders clearly need a new playbook, those that embrace social collaboration will be human AND deliver accelerated results.

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