SHOULD YOU QUIT IF YOUR CEO DOESN’T GET IT?

Nancy Myrland All Posts, Career Development & Education, Social Media 8 Comments

Day 17.11 never give up by freriekeThis morning my friend Gini Dietrich, CEO of Arment Dietrich, shared a blog post from Communications Consultant Jon Buscall titled What If Your CEO Doesn’t Get Social Media.

In his blog, Jon tells the story about a senior manager at a Swedish company who has unsuccessfully tried to bring his CEO in to the 21st century by introducing the concept of Social Media.  He tries and tries, but the CEO has made it clear he thinks it’s for children, that their clients aren’t using Social Media, that he will soon begin blocking employee access to Facebook, and, basically, to drop the subject.

Jon then asked his readers these questions:

Do you stick with the company?

Do you try to educate your CEO?

Do you move on?

As I commented to Jon on his blog, these are very important topics he has raised.

I feel pretty passionately that CEOs ought to understand Social Media.  I wrote about this last week here.

My answer to Jon:

No, I don’t think you leave just because your boss is uninformed and uneducated about Social Media, or any marketing tactics for that matter.  It’s our job to do what we can to teach them, to get through to them, and to try our best to advance the ball.  You need a much thicker skin that allows you to be the champion of these initiatives, or any initiatives that fall within your area of responsibility.

Social Media are still very new, so this attitude is common.  In her comment to Jon on his blog, Gini Dietrich stated that she hears this all the time from the CEOs she trains.

It’s prevalent in the C-suite, and many suites for that matter, to have these thoughts.  For marketers to job-hop because one communications component is not fully developed at your company or firm doesn’t help your resume either.  It just says that you didn’t get what you want, so you took your toys and went home.  You have no success to show from that job experience.

Stay on top of it yourself for now.  Soak up as much information as possible.  Learn and use the tools so that you can talk about Social Media and other marketing developments in a sophisticated and educational manner.  Gather case studies that bolster your position, and study those that refute it.  That’s your job, even if your CEO doesn’t know that yet.

No marketer is hired to be a yes person, so be patient, be as informed as possible, be diligent, be educational, be kind in your approach to informing others in your firm on an ongoing basis, and you will begin to make progress.  It might not be as swift as you’d like, but it is bound to happen.

If you’ve helped the company or firm by creating a thorough marketing plan, then all of the plan’s sections will logically lead to the right tools, or tactics, to accomplish what is set out in the goals section of that plan, whether they be social media or any other kind of communication and sales tactics.  At this point, you can then point out the right sites and tools to help accomplish what has been identified in the plan.

If your CEO gets irritated and tells you point blank to stop educating them, and that your job is on the line if you don’t stop, then it’s time for a serious discussion about why they hired you, but not until you’ve exhausted all the effort discussed above.

Thank you very much to Frerieke for the image used above.

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6 comments
Richard Bosworth
Richard Bosworth

Working as a Business Strategist and Coach to CEOs I come across the problem all too often however, recently the work and achievements of a number of social media "skunk workers" has come to the attention of their CEOs who have quickly caught on to what is happening and grasped the opportunity with both hands. So never give up.

Robby Slaughter
Robby Slaughter

You shouldn't quit the instant you face the slightest bit of resistance, but you should be prepared to demonstrate the courage of your convictions.

More importantly, we will never have much success with changing minds if we hold on to our continued obsession with tools. Social media is not a particular technology. An analogy to "voicemail" or "email" is especially painful, because these are simply new mediums, not entire paradigms.

At its core, social media is about respect. This dialogue in these blog comments is a genuine interaction between people that contributes to brand value and can ultimately help influence real sales. An executive who dismisses a particular conversation as irrelevant due to the medium of exchange is actually dismissing the people in the interaction. He's saying that those people don't matter because they are not talking in the manner he prefers.

If we're going to draw a comparison between the adoption of social media and past movements in business, we shouldn't look to technological changes. Instead we should consider social upheavals to the culture of business practice. Prejudice against social media is prejudice against society. We should treat it with the same disdain that we treat racism, sexism and ageism. These CEOs are leaders who refuse to accept people for who they are and how they choose to express themselves.

That's a reason to be proud to quit a job: especially if we tell the executive that we're leaving because we'd rather be unemployed than work in a culture which doesn't hold respect for people in the highest regard.

@robbyslaughter

Erik Deckers
Erik Deckers

Yes, but your CEO is never going to get social media if you walk out the minute your feelings get hurt. All he's going to get is that you're a quitter. He's not going to rend his garments, gnash his teeth, and cry to the heavens, "Lord, I've been such a FOOL!!!!"

He's just going to say "Meh. F--- him. Quitter." and then go back to CEOing and doing whatever it is that captains of industry do.

If you can't get your CEO to understand social media, then maybe it's your problem. You haven't been convincing enough.

Robby Slaughter
Robby Slaughter

If your CEO does not understand social media and refuses to embrace meeting customers where they actually are, the most important and powerful message you can send is to vote with your feet.

Social media is not a fad; it's not even new. It's an umbrella term for describing the fundamental and inescapable propensity for connection between human beings. It's the fearless acknowledgment that technology does not drive us apart, but brings us closer together. Social media is the assertion that people are social and that organizations should leverage their own humanity to connect with their constituents.

It might seem pedantic, but an executive who does not value social media is admitting that he does not care that his customers are human beings. A discrimination against social media is a discrimination against society. Companies are made up of people, not cold equations and lifeless inventory. Their leaders should unflaggingly believe in building relationships through whatever medium arises.

If your CEO "doesn't get" social media, quit your job. There is no stronger hallmark of personal conviction than the statement that I would rather be paid nothing than remain here with you.

Nancy Myrland
Nancy Myrland

Erik, I share your "stick-tuitiveness" regarding our responsibility to stick around to do our job. Once upon a time, voice- and email were scary creatures too, and made people very angry because they didn't want to have to use these tools to communicate with customers. The tidal wave of adoption we are experiencing, and will continue to experience over the next several years, will get the attention of many CEOs.

Nancy Myrland
Nancy Myrland

Robby, thank you very much for your thoughts. I agree with you about social media not being new, and not being a fad. I do think many of these tools are still considered new, and a bit scary, to CEOs, and people at every level. I wouldn't "quit your job" quite so fast, but might suggest you consider it if you've done all in your power to get buy-in from the top to begin to incorporate all communication tools available to you, and you are still running in to brick walls at every turn. It's hard to generalize as every situation is different. Thanks for stopping by to add your valuable thoughts to this discussion.

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