I was recently presenting at a conference in NYC, where the following question was asked…
What do you tell employers who are freaked out about their employees developing their own personal brand on social media, instead of the company’s?
Look, I get the tension.
As interactive platforms give employees the ability to build their own reputations and communities and demonstrate value outside the purview of their employers, companies are getting freaked about employees gaining too much “hand.”
Here’s my short answer to companies…GET OVER IT!
If someone’s tweets, posts and updates are so consistently, profoundly high-value that it’s making you nervous about their poachability or ability to launch their own competitive gig, don’t you think that same person would be establishing themselves both inside and outside the company as a thought leader to be courted…regardless of their use of social media?
Don’t you think they’d be savvy enough to “get” their true value and understand the extent of their bargaining power already?
Sure, social media might accelerate the process…
But, it also makes the pursuit of the acquisition of outside power and leverage by talented employees that much more transparent and observable. Rather than being forced into secret conversations and late night drinks, it’s happening much more in the light of day.
The answer to being fortunate enough to hire great talent isn’t doing everything possible to keep other people from knowing it.
It’s doing everything possible to make that person love you and your company. Empowering them with responsibility, trust and appropriate recognition, compensation and, if appropriate over time, a piece of the action. It’s creating a culture and mission that so resonates with everyone that the thought of jumping ship remained a distance second, third or fourth to the opportunity to contribute your gifts to the adventure.
As a small business owner, I dealt with this all the time.
When I ran a yoga studio in NYC and there were always a handful of teachers who would amass huge followings. We paid well, but not top of the market, because that wasn’t our model or our mission. But we always worked to create an amazing, respectful, tight-knit environment and grow a community of students that were magical to be with. And, that’s what kept so many amazing teachers in the fold for so long.
Did some superstars establish their own brands through word of mouth and social media and end up leaving? Sure. Did we experience a short term revenue hit as a result? Yup. But, these were the exceptions to the rule, we always recovered and grew and we were always happy to help them move into the place that was right for them.
The problem isn’t social media…it’s fear.
Whether through social media, face to face, conferences or publications, thought leaders always become known as thought leaders…independent of the brand or the entity they work with. Social media is simply serving as a catalyst to the natural process of demonstrating mastery.
Deal with it by cultivating genius, not caging it.
Imposing a moritorium on social media for your best and brightest will not in the end, do a whole lot to stop the talent drain. All it’ll do is push the process back underground.
Which leaves us with the same question entrpeneurs and employees have been dealing with for decades.
How do you allow people to flourish and also make them want to stay?
As always, I’d love to know what you think.
Share your thoughts below…
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