Help your boss to understand

Bonnie Cheuk responded to my post about hierarchies with a couple of very revealing stories about the challenges and risks of saying what you think in a conventional, hierarchical culture. I cover these challenges in my book from which I have lifted this paragraph:

Maybe your boss is nervous because he understands the potential of social media all too well. Once people learn that they can find each other, share their knowledge and work together the roles of many managers will change if not disappear. This is frightening. However the good managers will make the effort to adapt and will continue to add value in the more networked world we are moving into.  Many of them will be old enough to have children active on the web and may not be comfortable talking to them about it. Or they may get the point of social tools outside work but not see how to map them to the business context. Why not help them? Why not help your boss to understand the benefits for their business and them as individuals of getting to grips with the social network world? There is a real danger that we assume that our boss knows everything. Often they don’t and may be embarrassed about admitting this. Make it easy for them to do so.

I don’t underestimate the challenges in doing this but if you can’t even broach the subject with your boss then your problems go much deeper than social media.



6 thoughts on “Help your boss to understand

  1. Social media lay bare the real culture of the organisation. They don't change the culture, they just make it very visible to all. This is the scary part for some managers: a light shining on everyone. I don't think any argument for social media will help convince those who really don't want to have the management culture exposed.


  2. Thanks Euan for this blog post, I look forward to reading your book. I see many examples of superficial social platform use to create so-called value in Enterprise. Many projects are designed with good intentions, the sponsors are eager to embrace new technologies to make a difference, and some of the success stories I heard of show high participation rate. However, let's be mindful that quantity does not correlate to the quality of conversation (i.e. deep, meaningful, engaging, resulting in a change in awareness and deepen understanding on both sides). The worse case is that executives in power "force" participation to boost interaction rate (and increase superficial dialogue). We have a long way to go to transform hierarchical organizations into social enterprise. I do believe we can make change to communication practice/procedures one-step-at-a-time and show the leaders the way, and reveal the benefits of a networked organization.


  3. Fear and embarassment are powerful control mechanisms. Risky conversations have traditionally taken place in carefully controlled environments within an organisation. When staff can use technology to find each other and have conversations outside of "normal" organisational boundaries, line managers get really uncomfortable. Managers are more willing to encourage change and deepen authentic conversations when they see some genuine benefits for themselves as well as their staff. Yes, the old "what's in it for me ?" perspective needs careful consideration at every level…


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