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Your Burning Questions: The Hire Authority’s Q&A Part Two

Posted by Elaine Varelas  August 1, 2011 09:00 AM

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Due to the overwhelming response to our first reader Q&A at The Hire Authority, we’ve added another installment. Here are answers to more of our readers’ questions:

Q. My CEO has banned the use of social media sites in the office, but I think there is some business value to using them (especially for recruiting, hiring, and networking). How can I change his mind?

It sounds like your CEO doesn’t understand social media, and may be misled by the word “social,” thinking it is solely a tool for searching for old flames or following a favorite rock band. Social media is here to stay, and banning the use of these sites is akin to forbidding email use. You know that social media is an invaluable business tool, and many organizational leaders agree, as companies continue to incorporate social media strategies into their sales, marketing, branding, and recruitment programs.

You need to present a compelling case that will educate your CEO about the benefits of social media and assuage any fears he may have about the technology.

Do your research. Most CEOs respond well to numbers. Present statistics showing possible revenue growth, market share, and potential customers. You also want to include case studies of companies with similar products or services and show how social media helped them grow their business.

You will also want to develop a social media policy for your organization. How will it be used? By whom? When? How will you measure success? The more concrete examples you can give about how you envision the technology benefiting your organization’s business efforts, the more willing he will be to move forward.

Your CEO is probably thinking of the pitfalls of allowing social media use in your office (loss of productivity, liability). Address those concerns so you can move him away from fear to excitement.

Q. My company used to have a big employee appreciation party but the event was scrapped a few years ago when the economy tanked. I'd like to resurrect the event on a smaller scale. Do you have any suggestions?

Employee appreciation programs are closely tied to morale and productivity. They become more important during tough times, and unfortunately that’s when many organizations cut them. Kudos to you for resurrecting your company event.

You need to make sure that it is meaningful to employees, not just the company or CEO. If budget is an issue, it can be casual and low-key. You could have a BBQ, a softball game, hit the beach, or give back by hosting a community service day. You could check out some of area’s history by walking the Freedom Trail or checking out Plymouth Plantation. You could also give employees extra vacation days as a reward.

If you have a budget, think exclusive--do something that not everyone has access to. You could get tickets to a game, have a private tour of Fenway, or host an event at a museum or gallery after hours.

Exclusivity is also important for individual rewards. Gift certificates to hot restaurants, hotel stays, or retail stores likeTiffany are special and probably something employees wouldn’t do for themselves.

You can also ask employees what they want, either though an informal survey or by convening a committee to plan the event. Whatever you do, don’t make it a potluck or mandatory event! That can suck the fun out of the reward.

You can’t make everyone happy, but if you offer a range of activities and gifts, your employees will get the message that you value the work they do.

Q. Our company’s CEO is great in many ways, but there are a few areas that could use some tweaking. I know she could benefit from some targeted coaching, but I don’t know how to approach her about her “shortcomings” (as the VP of HR, it really is my place). I don’t want to come off as criticizing or jeopardize my job, but I know she could be a great leader with just a little help. What should I do?

The old-fashioned school of development focused on targeting people’s weaknesses and trying to build them up to an acceptable level. Today, effective coaching and development looks at leaders strengths--especially those that are underutilized--and builds upon those. You really don’t have to address your CEO’s “shortcomings” because the coaching should focus on what she does best and help her do it better. This isn’t just a matter of semantics (say you’re building on strengths when you’re really addressing weaknesses).

Be bold. Discuss what coaching can do across the leadership team, and encourage her to lead the way and develop her strengths. All of us are better at certain things and it makes sense to improve on those skills than try to “fix” something else.

This may require redefining your CEO’s job description or delegating some of her less important tasks. For instance, if she is a great small group communicator, but panics speaking to large groups, assign a VP to be a spokesperson. If she is unorganized, find her an assistant with great organizational skills. I’m sure your CEO will be okay with giving up some of her less favorite tasks.

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About HR Columns

Featuring human resources advice and columns from The Boston Globe's On Staffing and Hire Authority writers.