Leaders and Social Media: Improving HRM Through Better Internal Communication (Management Project)

The purpose of this study is to create understanding for how social media affects the relationship between employees and leaders in organizations, and how social media could be used to improve internal communication.

We also want to explore how this type of internal communication could be implemented in large organizations. From a theoretical perspective our ambition is to see how our findings relate to the theoretical field of internal communication and human resource management.

The empirical findings in this study were gathered by conducting an interview with the CEO to reveal his intentions, methods and practices when working with social media. A questionnaire was then developed by using the knowledge gained from the interview with the CEO, as well as by using theories regarding communication, social media and corporate culture, this questionnaire was filled out by company employees.

The empirical data that was gathered was analyzed in the light of relevant theory. We also checked the various data variables for correlation. This was done so we could study what factors determine why an employee follows the blog, and also so we could study which factors are impacted by the employee reading the blog.

The results of this study show that social media as a communication tool has enormous potential to transcend geographical barriers and to flatten the organizational hierarchy in a way that is not possible through the usage of conventional communication methods.

Social media can affect the relationship between a leader of an organization and its employees and has the power to spread values, practices, routines and build corporate culture. Social media however, has a sensitive nature and factors such as accessibility, target group characteristics and planning are directly relevant to the outcome when a CEO uses social media to communicate with the employees.

Accessibility problems can result in some employees having a hard time being reached by social media communication and the lack of a proper integration plan can cause disturbance in the communication, employees may not be aware of the purpose of the CEOs efforts or maybe not even be aware that the CEO has started using social media tools.

However the individuals who do follow the CEOs practices are likely to gain a better relationship with their leader. The informal nature of social media is a great way for CEOs to show more of their personalities and in that way form a closer bond with the employees. We believe that if planned and used in the right way, CEO social media communication has even more potential than this study reveals.
Source: Umeå University
Authors: Westman, Daniel | Lindfors, Peter

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