Dear Senior Manager – please play nicely in our social channels #internalcomms #intranet #socialmedia

If I had to give a senior manager a bit of advice about how to be successful in using social channels on our intranet, it would be something like this:


The critical success factor for engaging in a social channel as a senior manager is getting the tone of your engagement right. You need to ensure that you maintain the right balance between being authoritative as a senior manager and being an individual engaging in a conversation with another individual. Influence in social channels is something you earn over time by engaging in the right way and not something automatically conferred upon you because of your role in the organisation.

 Influence comes from being part of the conversation, not part of the establishment.

 It is also important to accept that your people need to collaborate in social channels to be effective in their jobs – they need to trust that you endorse this activity and that they are not being judged negatively for being active participants. Your early interactions, as a senior manager, will be critical to the health of social collaboration by your people going forward. 

The following points should help you find the right tone in your responses. When responding to an individual in a social channel, you should never

  • preach at them or talk down to them
  • hide behind quotes from company literature or use management speak as a surrogate for authentic engagement
  • use jargon, abbreviations and marketing/business language
  • throw your weight around and act in a heavy handed manner because of your position in the company.

You should always:

  •  listen first
  • be honest, open and authentic in all your responses – which includes owning up to mistakes as quickly as possible
  • deal with negative sentiment head on – ignoring negative sentiment inevitably results in it spiralling out of control – remember … negative sentiment almost always comes from an un-met need which you can probably meet
  • stick around and follow-up on comments you might make in a given conversation – making a comment and then leaving is not engaging in a conversation.

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  1. The networked organisation uses information sharing to succeed. By contrast, a hierarchy is marked by information hoarding and a need to know culture. The gatekeepers hoard or control information. They act as institutional chokepoints. They limit the information being shared in the organisation. They also control access to senior managers. The senior managers become reliant on the gatekeepers because they are the only source of information. Frontline staff will not understand the senior manager’s vision. The frontline then depends on the informal network controlled by the gatekeepers. The senior managers will become frustrated because they will not understand why their change initiatives are not working as intended. They know something is wrong on the frontlines. They will see more complaints. They may even reorganise fix the problem. They will not succeed because gatekeepers will remain. The senior managers will not realize that the lack of information encourages passive management and passive employees. The frontline officers will have to rely on fractured information networks controlled by the gatekeepers.

  2. Hi, great article. And I have to say, fantastic comment below by Julianne.

    How often do the ‘dinosaurs’ of organizations stifle the evolution of their company’s ecosystem. For instance the unstoppable surge of social media and the attitudes of ‘stuffy old suits’ or just conservative ‘gatekeepers’ who clutch to old values and place restrictions on sites and networks from internal staff. Where as the more productive approach would be to incorporate the positive engagement features into their own intranet.

    Good words sir, good words.

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