Convincing the C-Suite

Following my recent blog on the barriers to embedding social media within an organisation, I made the offer that anyone who wanted to share their story, and maybe give a different view, could do so anonymously on this blog.

Here’s a guest post from an HR professional telling a slightly different story to the one that I did…

‘It’s just so superficial’.  Said the MD to the HR type.  ‘I don’t see how it is relevant to us’.

Yes, you’ve got it; this conversation was about social media.  I’m writing this blog anonymously, mainly to avoid being fired.  I have a big mortgage you see.

This is the story of my so far futile attempts to convince our C Suite of the benefits of social media to them as leaders, to them as individuals, to our business.  So far, I have heard every dumb reason why we don’t need or want social.  (Klaxon alert).

  • It’s only going to interest younger employers.
  • I haven’t got time for it.
  • It’s intrusive.
  • I don’t see it as a main part of our internal communications.  Newsletters and roadshows are better for our sort of employees.
  • Yammer is a security risk.
  • If we give people access to social media sites then they will time waste.
  • Social networking is for personal not work.  If it is social that is what it means.
  • I wrote a blog once before and it didn’t work.
  • If we give people access to twitter then they may tweet inappropriate material about our company.  Said by our IT DIRECTOR.

And here is my current personal fave:

  • It’s irritating.

So I think that is pretty much the complete list, don’t you?

I’m guessing that the readers of Meryvn’s blog won’t need to have the benefits of social media explained to them.  If you’re reading blogs and tweets you get it already.  But how do we get other people to see it?  Right now I am taking some inspiration from Doug Shaw.  I am proceeding until apprehended.

We got Yammer up and running by just launching it, although the IT department aren’t speaking to me because we didn’t ask their permission.  Everyone now has access to Twitter and LinkedIn, although Facebook is a battle for another day.  And yes, I did have to throw my teddy out of my pram to get this.  I had to point out the absolute obvious.  If you want to tweet something rude about your employer, you can do it on your smartphone.  If you want to go on Facebook you can do it from your smartphone.  If you want to time waste you can do it on your smartphone.  At your desk, in the canteen…even in the toilet if you want to. Deal with it.  Or deal with the individual.  You think your employees don’t want it? So why did we get 200 of our employees joining Yammer in a matter of days? Perhaps you should go over and take a look at what they are talking about.

We now have a blog too, and a Pinterest page, and a twitter account. No one has actually contributed to the blog yet, and the twitter account only has 63 followers.  But we are getting there, we will get there, one new Yammer comment at a time.  As Mervyn himself said in a recent blog, it’s evolution not revolution.

So here is the rest of my rant to the C Suite.  You don’t have time not to do it.  You are missing a massive opportunity to talk directly to the people that work for you.  Turning up twice a year with a PowerPoint presentation with the great strategy from on high isn’t internal communications.  It is talking at people.  Communication implies dialogue.  You want to know what your people think? Get on twitter, write a blog, post on Yammer.  It will give you a little bit more real time information than that annual survey you get your wallet out for every year.  If none of those interest you?  What about staying in touch with your industry, making contacts, your personal brand, improving your job prospects?

Or maybe I’ll just do what Perry Timms does when they say they don’t have the time for it.  Just wish people well in keeping up to date in their careers without it.


 …Is this similar to your experience?? Share in the comments…or offer your own guest post, either named or anonymously…
Here are some comments from Twitter…
CSuite tweet1
CSuite tweet2
..and try this excellent graphic about Alexander Graham Bell from Jane Bozarth, author of Social Media for Trainers, if they still need convincing…

5 thoughts on “Convincing the C-Suite

  1. Not a contribution,only comment/accolade to the HUMAN RESOURCES person writing this, for sticking hear head out and for taking up the fight. Extraordinary knowing what is already known, tried tested and p r o v e n on SM that is still being treated the way it is, haven’t they heard about the new ROI, called ROE (Return of Engagement) Wake up C-suite and fast, or loose out.

  2. I could have written your exact post over a year ago. I had to double take and check that I didn’t!

    I have been through this exact situation and I am out the other side with a very successful internal network launched in my organisation. I went through the same battles and challenges that you face and hopefully I can offer some points to help you along the way.

    Firstly, you will not get buy in from the senior management team unless you can link this to the business objectives. In our organisation there was a very clear link to business goals and this was always key in my rationale for introducing Yammer/social network. Unless this happens it will simply be viewed as another HR initiative that is not linked to the business. Get across WIFM for the business and break this down across core functions and roles. If when you are doing this you realise it is not linked then drop it. Yes social is not going anywhere but if it is not relevant or conducive to the culture in your organisation then you should not be focusing on this.

    Secondly, you need to step into the shoes of the MD, IT Director etc. Their priorities are not yours and vice versa but by showing that you understand and take on board their views/concerns you will be much more successful in winning their support. I learnt the hard way that involvement rather than exclusion wins the day!

    Proceed until apprehended – that is exactly what I did (thank you Doug!). I ran a pilot without consulting the department heads that I should have. Me bad! But if I didn’t then I am not sure we would be where we are today. Sometimes rules have got to be broken. However, as mentioned in my last point I quickly had to regain trust in order to ensure the pilot could be extended.

    Don’t force things. Let your network grow naturally. Some of my biggest challengers are now my most active community members and I believe that allowing them the time to come round to the benefits themselves made a huge difference.

    We have seen some great outcomes across our business. We have solved customers problems faster, we are now generating ideas quicker without bureaucratic processes, email has been reduced, praise and recognition is easily shared and senior management are more accessible to all.

    I am happy to be contacted should you wish to get in touch and share some more on our Yammer story.

    Good luck!


  3. This and Mervyn’s blog are just brilliant in summing up the corporate barriers. And Sinead makes great points about putting heads into theirs and the need to relate to business goals.

    We have been able to achieve really measurable results from social media – such as using LinkedIn to win business in a completely new market in Dubai. I’ve found these case studies are the best way to convince your board and open up their minds.

    I was a speaker in November to 200 business leaders – following Lord Kirkham! – and met a few of the delegates last week. They started telling me all the things they had done as a result of this talk – inviting guest bloggers, strategic targeting on Twitter etc. Frankly you could have knocked me down with a feather!

    I’m now a ‘BBC expert woman’ on social media (have appeared on TV talking about the need for business leaders to understand manage social media – and weirdly found this is giving more credibility to the arguments!

    Really interested in Mervyn’s blog saying about middle managers being the blocks – not seen this but can absolutely see it all stacking up.

    Funnily enough, the biggest problems recently have come from – IT departments! You’d think of all people they would have the skills but we’re finding they have neither technical (no idea what plug-ins are needed to tackle glitches) or the communications skills – no surprise on that one.

    Anyway, very thought provoking and I think there is a blog in here. Sinead would you like to do a guest blog for us about Yammer. And Mervyn would you like to do one for us – on whatever you want! (Comms related of course)

    Thanks to you all, so interesting

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