Managers need to improve their game with social media

by Editor

August 19, 2013 | 9:49 am
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Using social media to accomplish something meaningful involves more than simply providing new technology and praying for success. Successful mass collaboration places new requirements on an organization, particularly its managers.

While many organizations are ready for social media from a technological standpoint, their managers may not be ready to embrace new ways of working collaboratively.

Why? Because social media and mass collaboration fundamentally challenge the relationship between responsibility, resources and management. Normally, managers accept responsibility provided it comes with control of the resources required to deliver on that responsibility.

This control, however, is the antithesis of collaboration. Relinquishing control to create space for collaboration challenges managers who rely on their authority and experience to achieve results. Managers who exercise their authority over a group will defeat the purpose of social media-based collaboration, and turn energetic and innovative communities into just another corporate task force.

Do your managers have what it takes to lead mass collaboration? Ask yourself the following questions to determine if your management team is ready for social media:

•Do your managers rely on their formal authority to deliver results and fulfill their obligations, or do they do so through influence, teamwork and engaging the talents of their team?

•Are your managers the most senior, experienced or knowledgeable people on their teams? Have they achieved their positions because they’re the best performers in their disciplines? Is their influence based on personal capability or interpersonal leadership?
•How does your executive leadership team respond to new ideas, insights or innovations that emerge from the organization as a whole rather than through the familiar formal channels? Does the executive team believe that the future of the organization is its responsibility alone or a responsibility shared by everyone at the firm?

The expectations implied in the questions above and discussed in greater length in our book, “The Social Organization,” are steep. But they’re not insurmountable if a company can match its social-media purpose to its management ability. That’s just another way of saying that organizations that start small and scale based on the expanding capability of their collaborative communities and management teams can become true social organizations.


(Anthony J. Bradley, a group vice president at Gartner Gartner Research, and Mark P. McDonald, group vice president for Gartner Executive Programs, are the co-authors of “The Social Organization: How to Use Social Media to Tap the Collective Genius of Your Customers and Employees.’’)

by Editor

August 19, 2013 | 9:49 am
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