On Friday I hosted my first unconference on behalf of the Scottish Improvement Service. The theme was social media in the Scottish public sector and you can check out #smuncon of you like.
I knew the discussions would be lively and I knew I’d learn a lot. What always amazes me though is the innovation going on in the public sector – Everyone assumes that the private sector drives innovation and that wherever they lead we will follow but I reckon they could learn a thing or two.
What we’re not good at, and this could be a Scottish Calvinist trait, is shouting about how good we are so I thought I’d have a bit of a shout out here on everyone’s behalf.
During the conference we covered all the usual topics – which social media channels for which job, community engagement, security issues, publishing and monitoring tools, social media use in emergencies, QR codes and location tools etc.
However the line that blew me away came from the Gordon Scobbie, the Deputy Chief Constable from Tayside Police (@DCCTayside). He encourages his staff to use social media, even bobbies tweet on the beat!
“I trust my staff with a baton. I trust them to remove your liberty. Why wouldn’t I trust them with a Twitter account?”
When I tweeted this line after he said it @jonbolton came straight back with “We trust social workers with care & protection of most vulnerable people. We need to trust them with
socialmedia”. We’d obviously hit on something.
Trust has to go hand-in-hand with great training but why are managers so reluctant to let staff share their day? Some council jobs lend themselves perfectly to Twitter – environmental health, trading standards, animal welfare. Put the right person on Twitter and you have an ambassador for the organisation.
Who’s the right person? Usually the one who approaches you, showing an interest. Usually the one who speaks animatedly at team meetings. Usually the one who can write like they speak. Usually the one with a bit of ooomph. Usually the one who obviously enjoys their job.
Social media isn’t rocket science and neither is trust. As a manager you shouldn’t have to take a gamble, you should know without a doubt who is sociable enough for social media and if that means learning how to do it yourself you should. You never know – maybe you’re the right person for the job.