The Workplace Guide to Going Rogue

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In almost every workplace, there’s a chain of command. You work as part of a team that may be siloed from the rest of the organization. But what if you need to work with other departments to collaborate in order to fill roles as a recruiter?

Collaboration is key for not just success in hiring but in any role within HR. This type of checking, double checking and touching base is an important part of not just the change management and adoption process but healthy workplace communication.

When Change Management Hampers Actual Change

I recently spoke at HR Houston as part of an all-day workshop on Social Media for HR and Recruiting. We had great conversations and dialogue throughout the day. One of the biggest light bulb moments for me was the number of attendees whose hands were tied in specific areas of change management or the opportunity to collaborate with other departments. In this particular workshop, a  number of HR leaders were extremely frustrated by the inability to collaborate or work with other departments such as PR, marketing, and communications who are often responsible for social media and marketing activities.

The entrepreneur in me says to fail fast, go forward and apologize later. Some might call this going rogue, but I see that the practitioners in my class were frustrated. They had tried to work with someone and were given the cold shoulder. They’d tried to talk to executive leadership or even make the case with another department to no avail. So I asked the question, when should you go rogue?

I am a fan of going rogue, but it was enlightening to see that many participants in this workshop were not. They didn’t have the time or expertise, and had reached out to other departments in the past (such as marketing and social media) to other staff members who had the expertise, but not the time to offer the basics of their specialty area. It just wasn’t something they had the bandwidth to learn or the energy to duke it out with the other internal departments.

How to Successfully Go Rogue at Work

So how can you be successful with or without collaboration with another department? Let’s talk about the basics of going rogue.

When your area of expertise is sourcing and recruiting, it’s not easy to make the time to learn about other areas that may contribute to your success, such as social media. If we use community management (another way of saying social media) as an example, when you reach out to your key marketing person who handles social media to ask for help, what are you offering in return? It often takes finesse and gaining knowledge quickly.

If you can make the time, there are a plethora of free online courses that will give you a rundown of the basics of social media. Here’s a list of 10 good ones that you could probably blow through in a couple of days. Once you have a basic understanding of how social channel management works, you can be more specific, have the right questions to ask, and even offer a few new tricks of your own when you ask for time with your company’s social media expert.

So instead of asking “can you give me a quick tutorial on how you handle our social media,” you can reach out with something more specific, like “We have an open house coming up and I’d love to see how you promote these on our social channels.” The first question implies that you’re asking your social media manager to teach you how social works. The second implies a time cap and you’re more likely to get a “yes, sure!” – especially when you’re asking about something specific. If your social media manager is savvy, he or she will welcome the opportunity to show you how they market your open houses for hiring.

This is a simple tip, but you might be surprised at how many recruiters are strictly focused on LinkedIn. Did you know that Twitter is a great place to interact with other recruiters, sourcers, and influencers? Have you participated in a Twitter chat lately? Here’s a simple how-to. And you can find me on Twitter here (hosting and participating in chats as well!). Does your company have a social media policy? Did your boss ask you to create a Twitter account? If not, go rogue. Do it now, get results, and apologize later.

But before going rogue, it’s critical you focus on your research and have a base of understanding or information to support your rogue-ness. Personally, I like to focus on survey data like social media use by my new hires to help defend my position to add social media to my recruiting and hiring strategy. It isn’t going rogue if you have flew your idea up a few flagpoles but have the data and research to support a small lighthouse test.

I call this a lighthouse because you are shining a spotlight on a problem or area of opportunity. Your focus on the pre-work and research and your emphasis on a lighthouse help make your “small test” less going rogue and more like a planned experiment.

The bottom line: Going rogue doesn’t mean risking your job. It means doing without asking permission and owning the results, good or bad. If you can’t get your job done through traditional channels, going rogue is the best way to find another access point. And who knows? Your actions may lead to your recruiting team having some ownership on social media. They also show the departments with whom you’d like to collaborate that you’re not expecting the world from them because you’ve done your own legwork to understand the basics of what you’re asking.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

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