Tip #3: Give them the software, hardware and online tools to be successful. Don’t ask people to fight with one hand tied behind their backs
As promised, here is the fourth post (and third tip) in a series on how to build a first-class online reputation management group or at least one that doesn’t suck. I am attempting to offer what I think are the keys to success in establishing, promoting or defending your company’s issues or reputation in the online environment. And we haven’t even gotten to the actual reputation management yet. You gotta build a house on firm foundation first.
In the last post, I talked about (probably revealing too much pent-up frustration in the process) how I think that it should scare the hell out of management in government, organizations or agencies that your assets walk out the door every night. You need to do everything possible to keep those valuable assets in place.
This next topic is also near and dear to my heart – something that should be a no-brainer for an agency, a corporation or a government agency:
Tip #3: Give your employees the software, hardware and online tools to be successful. Don’t ask people to fight with one hand tied behind their backs.
Provided that you have recruited and are doing your best to retain your staff, you need to give them the tools to be effective. And by “tools,” I mean hardware, software, access to social media tools — and training.
I can’t tell you how many times I have had to engage in a battle for software, a faster computer, access to social media tools through the firewall, or even back in the day, a LAPTOP so I could actually do work during non-work hours. So here’s a few bits of advice aimed at the employer:
- This is an example of hardware, but if your employee wants a Mac (or a better computer), listen to the business case. If you do a lot of audio or video or high-end processing, this is what Macs are made for. And don’t give me the “support” issue. There are many businesses that are specifically designed to support Macs in a remote environment. Sure, I think that Macs are cool, but if you want one, be prepared to make the business case for getting one.
- Know that BlackBerries cut like a double-edged sword. We are past the era (whether it’s good or bad) in which only “upper management” got BlackBerries. It seems that IT and the Powers That Be decided that it was, in fact, a good thing to have employees tethered to the Mother Ship at all hours. But from the employee perspective, do you really want to be responding to an email at midnight, thus creating the expectation that you will continue to do so? And management: do you reserve the right to get ticked off if your employee DOES NOT respond to an important email sent at 10:00 at night until the next day?
- Software. Again, if your employee can make a business case why he/she needs a software like Adobe Creative Suite or even an HTML editor to make changes to a site that perhaps got past the coding team, you need to understand that it benefits your business. It benefits you if your employee has the skills to produce better looking work products like reports, proposals, client deliverables and even good-looking content that you can deploy on the Web. It’s been my experience that most employees who ask for software want it to do their jobs better. I can remember editing code by hand in a hotel room in São Paulo for a Web site that had to go live the next morning. I was able to avoid potential embarrassment by catching the mistakes before it went live.
- Social media. Yes, I freaking get it that many, many tweets are about people’s cats. But that does not mean that ALL tweets are about things that most people don’t care about. Major companies tweet. Major news organizations tweet and follow others. Government agencies tweet. There is enough “there there” so that you know that Twitter is for real. And blocking? Shel Holtz’s excellent “Stop Blocking” effort was, I think, borne out of frustration that so many organizations are unwilling to give their employees access to social media tools that will help them be MORE EFFECTIVE. Google Wave? It’s in beta phase, but why the hell do you block it? Let your employees be intellectually curious to find out if something has a business application, like Shel said in For Immediate Release #498, Google Wave has the potential to be an excellent crisis communications tool. And if I hear the “employees wasting time” argument one more time, I am going to go postal. Know what, Mr. CEO? If you have loser employees who want to waste time like the entire staff of Dundler-Mifflin, they are going to find ways to do it, with or without YouTube.
- Conferences and training. This is probably the most contentious one of all, but I point back to my original post that one of the best ways to retain employees is to keep them intellectually challenged. And that means training and conferences. Again the employee has to make the business case, but conferences are about more than room service and booze-induced Tweet-ups. Your employees will learn. Your employees should stretch their own intellectual capacity by learning from like-minded individuals. And perhaps equally importantly, he/she will be grateful for the opportunity and trust afforded.
All of this comes down to two things: productivity and competitive advantage. And oh – these are things that benefit organizations. The right mix of tools help companies do what they do – squeeze every last drop of productivity while structuring payroll in a way to make a profit. Competitive advantage? If you are in-house in communication for an organization, perhaps building a WordPress site for the daily news clips will benefit your colleagues and senior management (vs. the 75-page tome that most companies send out) by increasing productivity. Maybe Adobe Creative Suite will enable you to put together a better looking proposal that will help you win business or a report that will, in one page, catch the eye of a C-Suite person.
Productivity. Competitive advantage. Without these things, your highly recruited staff will be fighting with one hand tied behind their backs. And you WILL, most likely, suck.