Thursday, 15 March 2012

Trust me or sack me

I went to the marvellous Public Sector Forum on Facebook yesterday held in Birmingham. PSF with Comms2Point0 had pulled together some of the brightest minds in the public sector to debate the challenges and opportunities of social media use. The thing that stuck out most for me is that it all comes down to is trust. And trust is an employee engagement issue.
It's relatively easy to learn to 'do social media'. You follow some other organisations who do it well, you read a lot about it and then you give it a bash, refining your approach as you learn what works. The difficult bit is persuading people to trust staff enough to give it a go.
To be able to make a real difference with social media, to be able to use it to change people's lives, at some point someone is going to have to take a risk and say 'I trust you: give it your best shot'.
I kept hearing yesterday 'if employers don't trust their staff, they should sack them'. I think the reverse is also true: 'if you don't trust your employer, why would you want to work for them?'.
Trust is at the core of all employee engagement: whether staff believe what their leaders are telling them and whether staff are empowered to get on with their jobs. As engagement practitioners we can help build that trust between employers and staff, little by little. It can take time, but with heavy use of examples where strong trust has been evident, repetition of key messages and continued openess and honesty, you can get there.
Trust doesn't mean being wildly reckless with your organisation's reputation or having a complete social media free-for-all, but where there are interested people, who've used it in their personal lives, who have been trained and supported and given some common sense guidelines, why not trust them?
The worst that can happen is they do something daft and everyone, including them, learns something.
When it comes to trust, someone is going to have to blink first, so who's it going to be?

5 comments:

  1. Hi Kate,

    Nice post, trust is obviously an issue, and that's not just in the public sector. But in order for management to have trust in their teams, they firstly need to understand Social Media themselves only then can they truly know if their team is even capable of doing any social media activity effectively. The unknown is scary after all! - would recommend a bespoke training course in every instance!

    In my experience working in the public sector I found an even harder battle...getting social media sites unblocked! it was like asking IT to cut off an arm!

    As you say if employers don't trust their staff...why are they still working for them?

    Jo

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  2. Hello Kate

    Thanks for your post. I was lucky enough to have a manager who, contrary to Jo's ideal, didn't understand social media but was happy to let us explore its usage for our team.

    I'd like to think we repaid that trust.

    On the subject of trust, when social media was blocked by default across our organisation, it sent me two messages. Firstly, that I wasn't trusted to use social media at work. Secondly, that my manager wasn't trusted to manage me.

    Both of those are pretty corrosive messages to send to your organisation, but it is usually the first point we talk about when we discuss this. I think the second indicates something quite worrying about our organisations.

    All the best
    Simon

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  3. Do you have any examples of social housing organisations using Facebook well?

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  4. Hi Marie

    Yes Trafford Housing Trust, Solihull Community Housing, Flagship Housing and of course Wolverhampton Homes ;)

    Hope that helps. Are you from a social housing org?

    Kate

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  5. This is even more frustrating when the staff they are not trusting are the same staff who are regularly talking to and supporting the public through other media

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