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Some books deserve to be read and re-read. Every few years, I crack open Terms of Engagement by Dick Axelrod, to remind me of how to really bring about organizational change. So, I was heartened when I was contacted to receive a copy of the new improved Second Edition published earlier this year. Internet marketers are constantly talking about engagement, but they often overlook the engagement of their own employees when bringing about the big changes needed to implement social media in their organization. If you are charged with changing your organization for social media (or anything else) you owe it to yourself to not just read this book, but to study it.

As someone who watched armies of consultants invade my organization all waving best practices in front of our faces, I saw way too much of the old style of change management, where you gather a small group of leaders in the room, you decide what changes you want everyone else in the organization to make, and then you announce the new program as a fait accompli, quickly moving to secure buy-in from the great unwashed.
Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t work very often. This book explains why.
People are wired to protect themselves and their position and to resist changes imposed on them. So, what is the simple way to avoid this outcome? Stop imposing and start including.
Instead of having secretive planning sessions among the elite, instead widen the circle and bring in the people that will be affected by the change and have them help create the plan. When you do, you’ll get a lot more than buy-in. You’ll get advocacy.
It’s ironic to me that so many social media consultants preach the best practices way to approach customers and the public to create engagement, but ignore the way to get employees engaged in that very process. If you have been struggling with changes imposed from the top by fiat, Dick Axelrod has a better way. Not only will it work better, but I’d argue you’ll feel better about it, too. And what better way to get your employees to have the right attitude towards customers in social media than for company leaders to have the right attitude towards employees?

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Mike Moran

About Mike Moran

Mike Moran has a unique blend of marketing and technology skills that he applies to raise return on investment for large marketing programs. Mike is a former IBM Distinguished Engineer and a senior strategist at Converseon, Revealed Context, and SoloSegment. Mike is the author of three books on digital marketing and is an instructor at Rutgers Business School. He is a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO, a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research, and a Certified Speaking Professional.

3 replies to this post
  1. Mike,
    Thanks for the mention. Research from Northwestern University has shown that engaged employees, create loyal customers, which in turn improve customer profits. You’re right on about feeling better. Neuroscience has found that engagement is a reward state which means not only do you feel better but the innovative, collaborative parts of the brain light up.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Dick. It’s important that your book get a hearing among the folks transforming companies around social media–there are too many important ideas for a mere book review to do it justice.

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