Social media breaks down barriers and encourages collaboration, which is why differences of opinion are bound to arise. When they do leaders must encourage task-oriented debates, while at the same time keeping a lid on intensity levels. Needless to say, this is not easy.
Debates: A Key Element of Innovation
In order to engage on social media, employees need to feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, ideas and opinions. However, there is a big difference between a healthy debate and a messy, unregulated argument. While the former boosts innovation and enhances productivity, the latter can lower morale and compromise employee engagement.
Conflict, though not easy to address, can be managed with the right approach. Differences of opinion are a natural element of collaboration, but disagreements need to be dealt with appropriately. One way of avoiding arguments in the first place is to make sure employees’ activity on social media remains respectful.
Social Media: Keep it Professional
Though less formal than most other workplace communication tools, social networks must stay professional. This means employees should be accountable for what they say and do on company accounts. Social media is an effective tool when it comes to gathering feedback, but employees should not see it as a place where they can vent personal frustrations. Emotional outbursts and petty disputes should be dealt with in private.
Social networks are instant and often create a false sense of intimacy. A social media policy- even if it is presented in the form of guidelines- sets out the standards that are to be met. Meanwhile, having a designated social media team allows for recognized mediators to monitor exchanges and make sure productive debates do not descend into full blown rows.
Disagreements: Address Them Sooner rather than Later
It’s all too easy to ignore online spats, as within a matter of days they often become old news. But though disagreements may seem to pass unnoticed, quickly dropping down to the bottom of newsfeeds, they can foster and even infiltrate physical workspaces. The most effective way to resolve online conflict is therefore to address it before it has a chance to get out of hand.
Online disagreements are highly visible and can create unnecessary buzz. The longer an argument goes on, the more parties become involved and the more complicated it is to resolve. So not only is it important to establish guidelines in order to avoid unnecessary conflict, it is far better to manage discussions in order to keep heated debates under control.