Image source: USNews.com.
Recently, President Barack Obama used the “Ask Me Anything” feature of social community site Reddit to do a public-facing Q&A that was open to one and all. While some have commented on this event within the larger backdrop of the upcoming Presidential election, I had a far simpler takeaway.
My takeaway is this: with social platforms, leaders have more opportunities than ever to connect and engage with their community and constituents. I applaud President Obama for his use of Reddit, along with his prior communications via Google+ Hangouts.
And here’s an extension of my takeaway that I’d like to leave with you: if the President of the United States can use social platforms to connect with U.S. citizens, then your CEO (and leadership team) can create the same benefits with your employees.
Here are five reasons to consider.
1) Gets the community talking.
Just as President Obama got people talking about his Reddit appearance, your CEO’s appearance (e.g. on a live broadcast to the entire company during a company town hall meeting) can get your company talking about the coming year’s objectives, the latest sales win or your CEO’s well-timed joke. As employees gather and interact with one another, the “online water cooler discussion” will have spillover onto your physical water coolers.
2) Surfaces issues to address.
Based on the nature (and specifics) of the questions received, President Obama’s campaign team received valuable insights and information on what’s on the minds of Americans. Without traveling to each office location, how can CEOs effectively understand issues that the leadership team needs to address? CEOs tell me it’s hard. Online “Ask Me Anything” sessions can help.
3) Allows your employees to get to you know you better.
When you, as a company leader, sit in front of a camera (or webcam) and ask employees to ask you anything, you’re bound to learn things about them you didn’t previously know. Perhaps you share a common hobby or sports team. You might have daughters with the same name. Social platforms mean that the days of the impersonal CEO can be long gone. Connect with your employees once a month via live video and they get to know you so much better (and vice versa!).
4) Retains an archive for employees and leadership to review.
USNews posted an archive of President Obama’s Reddit answers, along with the questions. And that’s the great thing about hosting these sessions online: the interactions can be archived for later review. Participants can go back to read something they may have missed and the leadership (hosting the session) has a permanent record of the discussion. Also, people who missed the session (e.g. due to a scheduling conflict) can still read the proceedings.
5) Allows you to take the pulse of your organization.
In addition to surfacing issues for the leadership team to consider, online sessions give CEOs the ability to quickly “take the pulse” of the organization. Are they motivated, happy, stressed, worried or all of the above? The announcement of the end of year bonus makes them happy, but rumors floating throughout the organization may make them worried. Either way, leadership needs to know what employees are feeling and an online platform can help with the pulse taking.
There are many benefits with regular and consistent communications with your employees. In my mind, these communications ought to be interactive and engaging. Email and conference calls no longer cut it. Use an online platform to get your CEO in front of the entire company – it’s measurable and interactive – and, it’s informative for both your employees and your leadership.
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