How Do You Train Non-Social Employees?

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I think most organizations have identified and trained the employees that show a great ability to “pick up this social media stuff” by now.  They’ve either kept them in their current role but shifted priorities or created an entirely new role for them, capitalizing on the fact that they “get it”.  Great! But what happens when these same organizations try to roll out some tactics to the wider organization? Many companies aren’t there yet, which is fine.  But some are, and more often than not, they’re facing a struggle with how exactly to train and equip the people that “don’t get it”. Now, I’ll say upfront that there’s probably not a blog post in the world that can cover this huge topic in enough detail to please everyone. Instead, this one is focused on helping you and your organization think strategically about this issue, and build out your tactics and training to suit.

1. Involve them in the planning process

This one sounds obvious, but when building out your training program and evaluating tactics, ask the employees that you think are most likely to have difficulties with them to help you build them from the start.  You’ll probably be surprised by the points they raise for topics that need to be covered during the training, and it’s a great way to start some trial runs of your tactics before really nailing them down.  Not to mention, it can help alleviate some of the fear that some people feel when jumping into social media – as natural as it is for some it’s equally as foreign and scary to others.

2. Don’t get caught up in the response

Don’t assume that every employee will/should respond to people on your behalf.  If you’re training a group of customer service reps, for example, try a few different workflow scenarios – possibly ones that involve a person/small group assigning posts out for people to act on, but handling the response/resolution/handoff themselves.  Some employees won’t feel comfortable responding to inquiries or problems on Twitter, but are perfectly OK giving someone a ring to chat about their problem on the phone.  That’s fine! Understand their comfort levels and build out your tactics to suit them, don’t expect their comfort levels to change just to suit your tactics.

3. Make sure your guidelines are consistent

For the employees that “get it”, the guidelines you put out may serve as broad stroke best practices.  They’ll read the document (we hope), but may not get caught up in the minutia of why you’re setting these guidelines out. They’ll instead focus on the high-level “I should do this, but I shouldn’t do this” and adapt their own use to suit. For employees that aren’t so comfortable with social media, the opposite scenario will usually happen.  Because this isn’t something within their comfort zone, they’ll be looking for the minutia to guide them.  Make sure your broad stroke policies line up with the examples you give, and reinforce these guidelines and best practices during training.

4. Practice Open Communication

Every company, even the most social, struggles at times with internal communications.  Make sure you’re really opening up the lines and providing numerous, transparent ways for employees to reach out to you with questions.  Be aware that some may not feel comfortable asking questions in a group setting, or even having their name attached for fear of looking “dumb”.  Try setting up a form where employees can submit their questions, and then put your answers in a central area for them to access and review at a later point in time.  Make it easy and simple for them to get the answers they need, without any negative stigmas attached. What did I miss? What worked/didn’t work for you and your company? Share your thoughts in the comments!]]>

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