Digital natives? Perhaps.

Let’s do some myth busting.

A trip to Amsterdam* means that I’m going to miss a Grant Thornton Executive networking event on social media tonight.

The event, put together by some of our Executives and trainees, is further evidence of the importance that we’re placing on understanding social media’s position in the workplace and should find an audience very much in touch with the changing landscape in which we all do business.

However, I think this is a bit of a myth.

The truth is that the partners and senior leaders in our firm will usually make the assumption that those new to the firm or coming up through the ranks are the experts in social media. They use it at school, at university, “they’re on it all the time!” And that is also, usually true.

But I also think that this ‘generation Facebook’ are very much in the same boat as our leaders. Yes they understand the nature of the platforms, but do they always make the connection between them and the workplace? I don’t know. What I do know is that we in communications and HR spend a lot if time talking about what this generation needs, that they want to work differently and won’t accept a world of Blackberries and email.

So that’s the question I put to tonight’s organisers – the business makes these assumptions about you, are we right to?

The landscape is still shifting, but some of our most active and connected users of social media for business are our partners and managers and their success stories with these channels are coming thick and fast.

From induction to retirement we should be helping our people to understand all aspects of social media and work, and something like reverse mentoring can help us get there.

However, we shouldn’t make assumptions about where our mentors sit in the business. Where social media is concerned, we all have lessons to learn.

Are we expecting too much from this generation? Should we make anything of the rise in popularity of LinkedIn among graduates? Is this just them conforming to a platform which sets itself up as THE business social network?

Interested to hear thoughts.

* I’m flying to Amsterdam this afternoon for HRTech Europe where I’m lucky enough to be speaking on Friday. Come along if you’re there and find out why we try to always put people before technology (but make great effort to ensure the technology fits, and works!).

Digital landscape is just the landscape.

I’m often asked about the competitive landscape for Grant Thornton when it comes to digital and social communications and my response is usually along these lines.

There are a lot of smart people out there doing some really smart, but relatively isolated things across many online channels in professional services, but is anyone really taking a lead?

This week a lot of us will have read the ‘memo to staff’ sent by Lionel Barber to staff of the FT, outlining next steps in their “digital first” strategy. This will be widely read as the last significant step that the FT needs to take to becoming a “digital only” publication and for me, points much more closely to where organisations such as the one I work for should be looking to get their inspiration from.

http://aboutus.ft.com/2013/10/09/lionel-barber-memo-to-staff-on-reshaping-the-newspaper-for-the-digital-age/

Clearly we’re a different type of organisation altogether, but the bulk of his memo talks about changes to working practices, how articles and thought leadership pieces will be planned, less reactive – more focus on the landscape and trends. Most strikingly there is a very bold, if you’re not ‘in’ then perhaps it’s time you started to think about your career at the FT message which almost had me fist pumping!

It’s a mind shift before it’s a habit shift and this sort of message from senior leadership will focus minds and attention on a potential prize that can no longer be ignored.

As Lionel says, “This is no time to stand still.” You may not see a reason to change your habits yet, but you’d better understand that big organisations are changing the landscape even if your closest competitors aren’t just yet.