Change Management, Social Media, and CEO’s

Posted by Harry Hertz, the Baldrige Cheermudgeon

Given the challenge, I can relate any three topics to each other! However, in the case of change management, social media, and CEO’s, there is a strong relationship that is reinforced by concepts in the Baldrige Excellence social mediaFramework.  Two studies  by Leslie Gaines-Roth et al. of Weber Shandwick, a leading global public relations agency, caused me to think about these linkages.

First, let me briefly summarize the Weber Shandwick studies’ findings. The most recent research found that eight out of every 10 CEO’s are now engaged on-line and in the use of social media. This is more than double the percentage in 2010 (36%) when Weber Shandwick first started tracking the social media activity of CEO’s. Company websites are the primary driver of CEO social media use, with 68% of CEO’s engaging through those sites.

A prior study by Weber Shandwick indicated while social media presence had once been considered risky for a CEO, it now was more important for CEO’s to use social media to transparently tell the company’s story.  According to the study, social presence shows that a leader is willing to listen, open to engaging in dialogue with stakeholders, and comfortable with change.

The Baldrige criteria first included questions about use of social media in the 2013-2014 edition. We stated that one of the four purposes for using social media was to engage employees with each other and with the organization’s leaders. In the Leadership Category, the criteria ask how senior leaders communicate with the entire workforce and key customers to encourage two-way communication, including through the use of social media.

In the 2015-2016 revision of the Baldrige criteria, one of the key themes for the revision is the ability to manage (implement, deploy, and sustain) significant organizational change. Organizational change management is a leadership induced process that involves transformational organizational change that leadership controls and sustains. It requires leadership dedication, involvement of employees at all levels, and constant communication. Transformational change is strategy-driven and stems from the top of the organization.

With organizational rumors, hearsay, and second-hand messages traveling at the speed of electrons, and organizational change generally triggering uncertainty and anxiety, senior leaders must communicate constantly and faster than the rumor mill and reinterpreted messages to build trust and ensure accuracy and transparency of decisions, progress, and impacts. This transparency and trust builds the full organizational engagement that is necessary for transformational change to succeed. When a senior leader engages in the use of social media to transmit messages in a timely manner, this becomes an accepted and valuable way to share information and receive widespread feedback, critical to the success of change efforts. Thus CEO use of social media becomes an extremely important resource in gaining buy-in and success of organizational change initiatives.

While I am not announcing any transformational change in this blog posting, I invite your feedback and support for the social media communications from the Baldrige Program!

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2 Responses to Change Management, Social Media, and CEO’s

  1. Merryn Rutledge says:

    You are absolutely right about change management, which is the focus of my business. And I think it is difficult to find “how-to’s” for guiding change–certainly not in approaches that are “cousins” of Baldrige, e.g., 6 Sigma, Lean, and Quality Improvement or even so-called Culture of Quality Improvement (CQI). Nor, in my experience with clients nationwide, does a CEO/COO manage change skillfully by gut or even from having done it, unless one knows to use and adapt an integrated approach that is based on change management literature and research. So there’s a follow-up blog opportunity here: how can top leaders learn how to guide change?

  2. Harry “The Baldrige Cheermudgeon” says:

    Thanks for the comment Merryn. I will give some thought to a follow-up blog posting or to a longer Insights on the Road to Performance Excellence posting.

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