Using Social Media To Cascade Content Upwards and Sideways, Not Just Downward

I came across this on LinkedIn and thought it worth sharing:

In 2012, IBM conducted a study, “The Business of Social Business: What Works and How It’s Done,” that showed that while companies are increasing their social technology investments, middle management leaders are struggling to embrace these capabilities as part of their day-to-day work. The problem, as the IBM study revealed is that “the key to accelerating widespread adoption lies in an organization’s ability to build social business expertise among employees, while encouraging behavioral changes that may influence a wider cultural shift. However, only one-quarter of companies believe they are fully prepared to address the cultural changes that are associated with this transformation.”

Therefore, companies needs to spend a significant amount of time and effort in encouraging their middle managers to change their existing behavior and provide their teams with a platform for engagement such as social networks and collaborative spaces. Middle managers need to embrace their new roles and upper management must set up a system to reward them for this. Without this basic fundamental change in culture, middle managers will resist change and a company’s social business initiative will be doomed before it starts. Middle managers in turn need to teach their teams the value of collaborating with one another and sharing knowledge and expertise. This may seem simple but from my experience it is not. Middle managers can encourage this collaboration by transforming existing business processes into new more effective processes that are enhanced by social technologies.


My take on this is that middle managers often feel more comfortable in being doers then thinkers. They thrive on routines and predictable processes and without guidance they struggle with ambiguity and vague direction. When it comes to social media they still see it as top down way of information dissemination and only use collaborative spaces with their direct reports to facilitate process changes and trainings. Rarely do you see middle managers use collaborative spaces as peers.

For my part, I will continue to encourage my senior managers to walk the talk so to speak and really optimize their social media presence in ways that inspire and empower their direct reports to do the same. We use the term cascade information a lot, but we don’t always cascade is upwards or sideways. We can do more of that.


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