I attended a local SHRM chapter meeting Thursday to hear the latest on developing social media case law, progressive approaches businesses have taken with social media use. I expected to hear excitement and possibility. Instead, I heard fear and trepidation.
The social media = fear apple may not fall far from the HR tree. In his post, Fear and Social Media, Mark Stelzner shares comments that SHRM's 2010 Employment Law and Legislative Conference covered the use of social media to spy on employees, blocking of popular social media sites and the general risks to broad adoption. Bloggers Mike Vandervort and Joan Ginsberg rant about the same.
Disappointing to hear on a national level, this message was frustrating to listen to at a local level. The two attorneys at our chapter meeting discussed social media in a "sky is falling" kind of way. One was not aware of Twitter until she developed her presentation and the other was not engaged with any social media tools. It goes to credibility my friends and for me, there was little. (Note: I had to leave early so did not hear the entire presentation.)
As frustrating as the presentation was, it was just as disheartening to look around the room and see HR professionals appear to be taking this all in. Maybe some were, and maybe some weren't, but even one HR professional buying into the social media = fear discussion is too much.
It doesn't have to be this way
Change, perceived loss of power and lack of knowledge and understanding can equal fear but social media should not. HR professionals, you don't blindly accept opinions of others without first understanding something about it yourself first, do you? Don't start doing so with social media.
Got attorneys? Getting advice? Take it under advisement. Attorneys mitigate risk and while I value that perspective greatly, I know it is only one perspective. Yes, even the obedient little rule follower in me questions and questions and questions. I've got to know the upper and lower ends of my risk scale to make an informed decision and know that the best attorneys are the ones who will engage in that conversation with me. I don't buy into fear.
Above all, be the voice of reason. Ditch the chicken little attorneys, learn everything you can about social media, and make your own informed decisions. Be prepared to provide the leadership necessary to successfully address the social media questions facing your organization, and if the decision is to adopt, to implement the practices right for you and your organization.
If you don't, someone else will. Then your sky really may fall.
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