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The Judo Approach to Social Media

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

Americans spend up to 20 percent of their waking hours on social media sites. According to Mashable, use of social media at work is costing companies up to $650 billion in profits per year, so employers have good reason to be concerned. But how can a company protect itself while maintaining good relationships with its employees?

The first reaction may be to ban use of social media at work. But most can access social media with their own smartphone or other device, and there is usually no stronger motivator to do something than to be told they cannot do it! So instead of denying access, try the judo approach.

The judo approach

In judo, the practitioner does not attack the opponent, but rather waits for the opponent to attack. Then the practitioner evades the oncoming force of the opponent by redirecting the movement of the other person’s energy.

This basic principle can be applied for social media usage at work. Instead of directly combating employees’ use of social media, employers can channel their energy and interest from their own personal accounts to the company’s business account or goals. Here are two ways to do this:

1. Enjoin employees in the company’s social media site.

Managers can urge employees to use social media to promote the company and communicate with other companies. Employers should be specific with employees about expectations.

According to Jeanne Meister of Forbes magazine, companies like IBM and Sprint are already doing this by creating social media training programs that teach employees appropriate online behavior. Such training empowers employees to be effective online advocates of the company.

Sprint, for example, has developed a training program that not only instructs employees about proper use of social media and company policies but also encourages employees to be active in the company’s internal social network called “Sprint Space.” Creating an internal social network for employees can help with team building, communication and engagement, as well as help management tune in to issues that are trending among employees.

2. Create an enterprise social media network.

The second option is to create an internal social media network that employees can use to communicate with one another. This strategy encourages employee communication on work-related projects, creating a collaborative style of interaction that increases productivity.

Implementing a network meets employees’ desires to be involved in the latest and most popular technologies, and it meets their needs to connect with each other through digital media.

Make your social media policy more of a perk than a regulation, and your employees will be more likely to embrace it. Using the judo approach can turn a productivity drain into an employee engagement boost.

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