Social Power and the Coming Corporate Revolution
While heading to the Direct Employers Conference in Indianapolis today, I picked up a copy of this week’s Forbes magazine. When I travel, I make a habit of picking up a magazine or publication like the Economist, Fast Company, The NY Times, Fortune, or Forbes and spend some time focusing outside the circle of HR. This is a strategy that has worked well for me. In order to gain respect as well as an understanding, our industry (human resources, recruiting, talent, and HCM) needs to spend time with our employees as well as the managers we serve.
Forbes’ feature article this week is, “Social Power and the coming Corporate Revolution” by David Kirkpatrick. Although quite lengthy and somewhat choppy, I thought it was a good read. The gist of the article is this:
Social Media Scares Leaders
Social media tools and technology put employees and customers in the driver seat. Closed meetings are no longer closed. Employees and customers can organize quickly and swiftly behind cause or community. Managers no longer can rule by fear because control for the employee is only a tweet away.
“Blah, blah, blah,” you say. I’ve heard this before, and yes, you have, but for senior leaders this social media is a real sticking point that they are now realizing isn’t going away. Revolutions have been won, stories broke, and confidential information disclosed because of mobile and social media tools like Twitter, blogging, Facebook, and your smartphone. Your CEO and his team are finally just realizing this and getting around to reacting. And that’s the reason that Forbes wrote the article.
A little late to the party, I think. . .
Communication in Social Media is Not Transparency
While social media and technology offers up good mediums in which to transmit information, the information posted on these networks is not always right. Companies, organizations, and individuals can BS their way through conversations but through time, the truth is revealed. Employees and customers know this. While they want to engage a brand or a company on social channels, they are skeptical. Maybe they’ve been burned before or they’ve read through the lawyer speak. And let me tell you, it’s nearly impossible to include a proper legal disclosure contained within 140 characters.
For organizations, especially senior leaders, that’s really hard to understand the difference. Quarterly earnings, product recalls, and employee downsizes have been spun, spun, and spun. Your workforce is done, done, and done.
One such organization that I have been watching over the last few months in Change.org. A no-cost crowdsourcing tool, they champion and help bring attention to the underdog online. One of their current campaigns is a Human Rights Petition encouraging members to sign a petition to stop killer jeans by well-known brand, Dolce & Gabbana. Nearly 40,000 electronic signatures have signed on to stop the use of deadly silica used in the sand blasting jean process.
Ordinary People Can Do Amazing Things
With the rise of social tools and workshifting the average person can work a full-time job as a department store manager and save the world all at the same time. Technology like smart phones and social media put the power in the hands of seemingly ordinary people who do not answer to a board of directors, investors, or shareholders. With technology, empires can be developed, created, and sold in less than eight months. Zaarly’s creator, Bo Fishback pitched his idea on a Friday and closed $1 million worth of financing Tuesday just 4 days later.
Four days in the corporate environment is minutes to the entrepreneur and social power world. I’m betting that in just four days, Dolce & Gabbana’s legal team has even yet to make a recommendation to answer Change.org’s call to action. I’d wager to guess the number of conference calls and meetings is six times that.
The social revolution is here, and it’s up to us to help them listen, learn, and understand. Are you ready? More importantly, is your organization ready?