I Don’t Trust You…

by Bill Boorman on October 7, 2009

TwitterTagCloudJust recently I’ve been involved in advising companies on implementing social media strategy for recruiting. Last week I spoke to a group of corporate recruiters based across the world about

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what social media recruiting could do for them. The conversation was quite open with the usual reservations about time, cost, expertise etc with varying solutions being offered as well as speculation and guesstimates on Return On Investment (The old R.O.I. chestnut.) I also raised this on the excellent radio show HR Happy Hour from @SteveBoese.

This was a special edition of the show from the HR Technology conference with about 15 guests and quite a few callers. The issue of personal v corporate branding provoked quite a lot of discussion and quite a few tweets.

The big issue I’m getting feedback on is the fear that the personal brand of staff, in particular recruiters both corporate and third party. The other big discussion across social media is the number of companies banning social media sites like facebook, twitter and others. Looking at these two key issues and the impact this may have on employees and potential new recruits.

The biggest resistance I’m getting is actually from marketing departments within companies who find it hard to understand how non-marketeers can represent the brand properly and not damage the company reputation. My response to this is to introduce clear guidelines and trust people to follow them. It is an issue of trust.

I remember showing a client twitter live through a projector. Her reaction was to look at all the non-business tweets in my stream and immediately gave the instruction that everyone was banned from twitter in the office! It was a day after a big football game and much of the stream was relating to this hence the reaction. Only LinkedIn seems to be accepted as business based, and I suspect that this is more related to the less interactive nature of Linkedin and the more obvious business benefits presented by a platform that outside of groups and questions is essentially a giant people directory.

What employers should consider is the message this gives out about their employees. They are yelling out “We don’t trust you to be grown ups in this new media. We don’t trust you not to waste your time all day on facebook talking to your friends and watching funny videos on facebook.” Aside from the possible impact on business on withdrawing social media as a networking tool, the message it gives out is a very negative one in terms of the trust placed on the employees.

Increasingly candidates are researching potential new employees or suppliers in social media. (I actually recommend it) and if there is very little available what does this say about the company? Equally, candidates are asking about social media use and strategy at the interview. What impact does this have on the potential employee, and will the message “we don’t trust you” make them employer of choice.

Would welcome your comments on this, shoot me down.

@BillBoorman

Bill Boorman is something of a recruitment veteran, having worked in the industry for 25 years. All this despite being told at his first job that he didn’t have a future in the business! At the age of 40, the industry has given him most of his experience, having worked in most market places. For the last 12 years he worked for one of the fastest growing companies in the U.K. – this culminating in his appointment as Director of Training.

Photo Credit, respres

  • http://cli.gs/XRyhSm Jill Elswick

    I talked with someone who works in the insurance and financial services industry today. He says his company, a very large insurer in the United States, discourages employees from using social media — even LinkedIn — because the compliance person has to monitor all their sites every day. They are afraid employees might say something that would violate regulations. I can understand why companies are nervous about what their employees might say online. However, it seems they should be training employees on how to conduct themselves and not trying to stop them from having an online presence, which seems futile.

  • http://cli.gs/XRyhSm Jill Elswick

    I talked with someone who works in the insurance and financial services industry today. He says his company, a very large insurer in the United States, discourages employees from using social media — even LinkedIn — because the compliance person has to monitor all their sites every day. They are afraid employees might say something that would violate regulations. I can understand why companies are nervous about what their employees might say online. However, it seems they should be training employees on how to conduct themselves and not trying to stop them from having an online presence, which seems futile.

  • http://blogs.oracle.com/jobsatoracle David Talamelli

    The way we work is changing, being told not to use Social Media Tools during work hours is like trying to stop a tsunami by putting your hand out. I know that not everybody “gets Social Media”, but just because they don’t understand it doesn’t mean that social media tools are a bad influence. I love that my management team understands this, they let me use social media tools and social networks as I need to because they know the good it provides to both me and the company. They also treat me like an adult and let me be responsible for my own actions. If I goofed off all day long on Facebook and it affected my work – I am sure they would think differently, but the results I have delivered from Social Media far outweigh the negatives.

    Employers can not be afraid of people developing their own ‘personal brand’ they should embrace this and make it work for everyone involved.

  • http://blogs.oracle.com/jobsatoracle David Talamelli

    The way we work is changing, being told not to use Social Media Tools during work hours is like trying to stop a tsunami by putting your hand out. I know that not everybody “gets Social Media”, but just because they don’t understand it doesn’t mean that social media tools are a bad influence. I love that my management team understands this, they let me use social media tools and social networks as I need to because they know the good it provides to both me and the company. They also treat me like an adult and let me be responsible for my own actions. If I goofed off all day long on Facebook and it affected my work – I am sure they would think differently, but the results I have delivered from Social Media far outweigh the negatives.

    Employers can not be afraid of people developing their own ‘personal brand’ they should embrace this and make it work for everyone involved.

  • http://steveboese.squarespace.com/ Steve Boese

    Bill – Thanks for supporting the Happy Hour show and for mentioning it here. I do agree that trust is a major part of the reason many organizations seek to control and/or ban access to to social networking and other sites. Certainly organizations are free to set their own policies, and what is right for one may not work at all for another. But with each passing day, it does seem like social networks are becoming so embedded into the fabric of work and life, that barring them will seem very strange indeed, and organizations that cling to this type of thinking will eventually relent, or die off.

  • http://steveboese.squarespace.com Steve Boese

    Bill – Thanks for supporting the Happy Hour show and for mentioning it here. I do agree that trust is a major part of the reason many organizations seek to control and/or ban access to to social networking and other sites. Certainly organizations are free to set their own policies, and what is right for one may not work at all for another. But with each passing day, it does seem like social networks are becoming so embedded into the fabric of work and life, that barring them will seem very strange indeed, and organizations that cling to this type of thinking will eventually relent, or die off.

  • http://punkrockhr.com/ laurie ruettimann

    Bill, this is very much in line with my thinking. I fear that companies operate via cabal of lawyers and paternalistic risk managers. You let your talented employees cultivate their own personal brands and they will carry their corporate brands with them!

  • http://punkrockhr.com laurie ruettimann

    Bill, this is very much in line with my thinking. I fear that companies operate via cabal of lawyers and paternalistic risk managers. You let your talented employees cultivate their own personal brands and they will carry their corporate brands with them!

  • http://jefflipschultz.wordpress.com/ Jeff Lipschultz

    As Craig and I like to say when speaking on this topic, “people don’t buy from companies, they buy from other people.” The same can be said for employment. We work for people, not companies.

    What better way to truly understand what a corporate culture is like than hearing from the people who work there blogging about their latest achievements, newest technologies, and favorite tools? It has an air of authenticity that is more powerful than HR marketing (although, much of this is getting better).

    All it takes is some policy, training, communication on expectations, and a trial run. The reality is: you cannot stop employees from talking about their company. There are other outlets. Why not provide one that is guided by corporate principles hopefully tied to the corporate vision and values?

    Jeff Lipschultz
    A-List Solutions

  • http://jefflipschultz.wordpress.com Jeff Lipschultz

    As Craig and I like to say when speaking on this topic, “people don’t buy from companies, they buy from other people.” The same can be said for employment. We work for people, not companies.

    What better way to truly understand what a corporate culture is like than hearing from the people who work there blogging about their latest achievements, newest technologies, and favorite tools? It has an air of authenticity that is more powerful than HR marketing (although, much of this is getting better).

    All it takes is some policy, training, communication on expectations, and a trial run. The reality is: you cannot stop employees from talking about their company. There are other outlets. Why not provide one that is guided by corporate principles hopefully tied to the corporate vision and values?

    Jeff Lipschultz
    A-List Solutions

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  • http://www.RecruiterEarth.com/ Chris LaVoie

    Terrific Article Bill!

    It shows that they don’t have must confidence in the people they hired. Which to me is a direct reflection on the leadership in those companies.

  • http://www.RecruiterEarth.com Chris LaVoie

    Terrific Article Bill!

    It shows that they don’t have must confidence in the people they hired. Which to me is a direct reflection on the leadership in those companies.

  • http://www.upgrade-design.com/ Jon L. Long Sr

    As a small business owner, a single employee’s production, if impared is felt much more than say a larger company with 100s. Knowing a job has to go out and seeing an employee frequently texting on their PDA, can create an awkward situation. As a boss and owner, do I mention it? In doing so, am I alienating the employee from the team? I’m not sure that “one rule would fit all” in this situation and would have to be judged on an individual basis along with the employees other work habits. If production suffers below the norm, then there is reason to address it. On the other hand if it becomes the “accepted norm” to carry on social media (not relevant to work) during the paid hours, as an employer, you have a problem. As management, it is important to set accepted standards and expectations and then trust that your employees will be adult enough to not abuse. Nice article Bill.

  • http://www.upgrade-design.com Jon L. Long Sr

    As a small business owner, a single employee’s production, if impared is felt much more than say a larger company with 100s. Knowing a job has to go out and seeing an employee frequently texting on their PDA, can create an awkward situation. As a boss and owner, do I mention it? In doing so, am I alienating the employee from the team? I’m not sure that “one rule would fit all” in this situation and would have to be judged on an individual basis along with the employees other work habits. If production suffers below the norm, then there is reason to address it. On the other hand if it becomes the “accepted norm” to carry on social media (not relevant to work) during the paid hours, as an employer, you have a problem. As management, it is important to set accepted standards and expectations and then trust that your employees will be adult enough to not abuse. Nice article Bill.

  • http://url2it.com/shr Joan E. Ginsberg

    As a person who comes from a small business background (manufacturing/production), I immediately wanted to jump in and support Jon in his assessment of the difficulties small biz owners might have in allowing their employees to embrace social media during work hours.

    But as I reflected, I realized that BIll’s assessment was even more valid: this is an issue of trust, developed by training and communication, no matter the business size.

    In my experience, small business (less than 100 employees) operate on very constrained time lines with a lean workforce, and every single employee’s performance is critical every single day. Training is limited to the specific task at hand and doesn’t include much “development” jargon.

    Bill says: “All it takes is some policy, training, and communications on expectations . . .” Small business can do these things, too, and then trust their employees to make smart decisions. Sadly, many small business owners in this country do not have the time, resources, or ability to do these things. We need to find a way to reach small business owners and make this training affordable and relevant.

  • http://url2it.com/shr Joan E. Ginsberg

    As a person who comes from a small business background (manufacturing/production), I immediately wanted to jump in and support Jon in his assessment of the difficulties small biz owners might have in allowing their employees to embrace social media during work hours.

    But as I reflected, I realized that BIll’s assessment was even more valid: this is an issue of trust, developed by training and communication, no matter the business size.

    In my experience, small business (less than 100 employees) operate on very constrained time lines with a lean workforce, and every single employee’s performance is critical every single day. Training is limited to the specific task at hand and doesn’t include much “development” jargon.

    Bill says: “All it takes is some policy, training, and communications on expectations . . .” Small business can do these things, too, and then trust their employees to make smart decisions. Sadly, many small business owners in this country do not have the time, resources, or ability to do these things. We need to find a way to reach small business owners and make this training affordable and relevant.

  • Debbie Brown

    My 12 year old declared the phone “obsolete” this year. I also hear e-mail is heading down the same path now that we have real-time conversation on the web with something like google wave.
    Why, does a company policy that governs phone conversation and e-mail not also cover social media? Is “social” any two-way interaction where you are representing the firm inside or out?
    Nordstroms relies on one line for their HR policy- “use your best judgement” there is something to be said for that?

  • Debbie Brown

    My 12 year old declared the phone “obsolete” this year. I also hear e-mail is heading down the same path now that we have real-time conversation on the web with something like google wave.
    Why, does a company policy that governs phone conversation and e-mail not also cover social media? Is “social” any two-way interaction where you are representing the firm inside or out?
    Nordstroms relies on one line for their HR policy- “use your best judgement” there is something to be said for that?

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  • http://garethmjones.blogspot.com/ Gareth Jones

    Nice post Bill. The key words here are Trust, internally and Authenticity, externally. I think David Talamelli’s comment sums it up nicely and i love the Tsunami analogy!

    Chris LaVoie also makes an accurate statement about leadership and finally Debbie Brown’s point “use your best judgement” really hits the spot.

    If you have people in your organisation that have poor judgement or who dislike the organisation for whatever reason and who, as a result, will be careless with its reputation then you have a problem that has nothing to do with social media anyway.

  • http://garethmjones.blogspot.com Gareth Jones

    Nice post Bill. The key words here are Trust, internally and Authenticity, externally. I think David Talamelli’s comment sums it up nicely and i love the Tsunami analogy!

    Chris LaVoie also makes an accurate statement about leadership and finally Debbie Brown’s point “use your best judgement” really hits the spot.

    If you have people in your organisation that have poor judgement or who dislike the organisation for whatever reason and who, as a result, will be careless with its reputation then you have a problem that has nothing to do with social media anyway.

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