Online conversations have become a productive and cost-effective way for employers to communicate with staff and keep them engaged. But there are dangers as well as advantages to allowing free access to internal social media.
Wayne Turmel, president at Greatwebmeetings.com, offers this advice for getting the most out of employee webchats:
1) Use real names
If people are looking for transparency from the company, they should be transparent themselves. If you sign on as axe2grind34, don’t expect much attention.
2) Moderate the chats
This does not mean removing all embarrassing questions. It means abusive or radically inappropriate questions are not shared. Most people will be respectful and honest if they feel the company is being respectful and honest.
3) Set the tone early on
Demonstrate that the company is serious by planting a tough question early in the programme and setting the appropriate tone by answering it head on.
4) Plan ahead
The presenter should practice their responses to likely questions so they can be concise and clear.
5) Treat it like a real meeting
Just as in a live meeting, acknowledge feelings and names. You want to create as dynamic an environment as possible.
6) Get help on the practicalities
If the CEO doesn’t do much of his or her own typing regularly, have someone type the answers for them in a chat session.
7) Build momentum
Record the session and post it for everyone to see. It will become an exemplar to the organisation and a credibility-builder for the next session.