Never look a gift horse in the mouth
Social media: Learning to let go
“Never look a gift horse in the mouth” I was told that a lot as a kid, I’m not entirely sure I understood what it meant then….I’m not so sure I really understand what it means now. I guess, just a sense that when something is offered, don’t be afraid to take it. Funny really, because these days I don’t hear it so much, I’m more likely to hear, “there is no such thing as a free lunch”.
Nice contrast don’t you think?
One, telling you to be trusting and accept whilst the other to be suspicious and reject.
I’m not going to bang on about the merits of social technologies and the value of Web 2.0, there are people better qualified than I to do that. But I’m curious about this balance between, on one hand, trust and acceptance, and on the other hand, suspicion and rejection. This tension we feel through society as a whole and therefore in our workplaces. Ironically, you’d think it would be easier to trust. If I trust you then I don’t have to worry so much. If I’m suspicious about you, well then I have a whole load of thinking and scheming and checking to do. But somehow, we seem to find it really hard. Why is it so hard to trust?
Every organisation is going to exist somewhere on the trust control continuum and I am in no way saying that anyone bigger than a cottage garden should rescind all control from their business. But I do think the vast majority of us could learn to trust a little more, learn to let go and yes, learn to let things go wrong sometimes.
I’m not going to persuade you that social tools could be majorly beneficial for your business, you’ll either agree with that or not. I’m not going to tell you that there is imperative of any kind. I’m not even going to tell you that you need to rip up your social media policy (well…..not this time at least).
But I am going to tell you that a tool is just that…..a tool. The culture and climate of your organisation will determine whether any intervention, whether any tool is successful or not. Experimentation, innovation and entrepreneurialism require people to explore, to play and to sometimes get things wrong. And for people to do that, they need to feel that you trust them.
So forget the fine words about the benefits. Forget the arguments on social capital and engagement. Forget everything that we’ve been telling you. If you aren’t prepared to trust your people, you’re not ready to make the most of this opportunity or indeed any other.
It really is as simple as that.
Neil Morrison of Random House
If you renewed your membership on or before 22 June you will be emailed the CIPD’s new Insight report Harnessing social media for organisational effectiveness on 6 July.
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