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Harry Hertz

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Change Management, Social Media, and CEOs

How bosses can use one to achieve the other

Published: Wednesday, June 24, 2015 - 15:09

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

First, let me briefly summarize the Weber Shandwick studies’ findings. The most recent research found that eight out of every 10 CEOs are now engaged 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 CEOs. Company websites are the primary driver of CEO social media use, with 68 percent of CEOs engaging through those sites.

A prior study by Weber Shandwick indicated that although social media presence had once been considered risky for a CEO, it now was more important for CEOs 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, engage in dialogue with stakeholders, and accept 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 asks 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 is the ability to manage (i.e., implement, deploy, and sustain) significant organizational change. Organizational change management is a leadership-induced process that involves transformational organizational change controlled and sustained by leadership. 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 secondhand 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, which is 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.

Although I’m not announcing any transformational change in here, I invite your feedback and support for social media communications from the Baldrige Program.

First published June 11, 2015, on the Blogrige.

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About The Author

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Harry Hertz

 Harry Hertz retired in June 2013 from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) where he served as director of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program since 1995. For more than 15 years he was the primary architect of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence, responsible for expansion of the Baldrige Program and Award to healthcare, education, and nonprofits, including government. Hertz serves on the Advisory Group for VHA’s Center for Applied Healthcare Studies and on the adjunct faculty of American University. He has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn and a Ph.D. from M.I.T.