Sunday, April 07, 2013

The end of business as usual: is it possible in the workplace? (Part 2)

Continuing from my last blog, I wonder if the 10 steps to use social media in the consumer world could work within the firewall. (Sorry for the long delay to publish this blog, I drafted it long way back, but have been finessing my thoughts for a long while).

1. Working as a team at work, it is about getting things done. If you are the team lead and you want the members to get their work done (enabled by social platform), do you consider why your team members want to engage with you (other than the fact you are the defacto leader). What would make your team willingly engage with you even if you are not in your position? Could it be working with a leader who cares, who is inspiring, who help their team members to develop and grow in their job.... Have you considered why your staff want to engage with you? Do you bother? Why should your staff bother? Do you invest in content and in engagement? (This also speaks to point number 9)

2. What brings people together at work is based on projects, functions, tasks to deliver specific business goals. Good conversation within a team help every team member to see their purpose, how they can play a part, and answer what's in it for me. How many managers and/or team members do this effectively offline in face-to-face events/meetings? Can we assume we can/will have great conversation online because your company is rolling out a new social platform....?  (This also speaks to point number 8)

3. Identify who are the influencial people in your organization who can make or break the initiative you are trying to roll out. Find out who they are, and then create a dialogue online (on the social platform) that is mutually beneficial. We know how to do this offline, go and talk to the key stakeholders, influence them, convince them, get them on your side, get them share their support in important meetings. Can we replicate this model online? Start a conversation, get the key stakeholders to comment postively to show "public" support. This is all about reinforcing existing power structure. What is interesting is to discover "influential people" who may not be in power, but attracts a lot of followers/interaction in a specific topical area but whom you do not know personally, they are the additional people to watch and engage.... They create the new rule of the game in a networked organization. How do you think the people in power would think/feel? Smart leaders will leverage the power of these hidden network.

4. Study what best practices other organisations are embracing internal social platform to transform their business model. McKinsey has published a great report on "unlocking the value of social networks", it is definitely worth reading. Also share early success examples to make it real for the late adopters (or people who do get it initially) to come on board.

5. Translate early learning into opportunities to share with business executive. Yes, this is so needed in any internal social platform roll out to continue to get senior support and buy in. Unfortunately, the measurement and reporting system in a traditional company does not help to present the value created by social business, I don't think we have a measurement and reporting model which can showcase the benefits of emergence yet! (David snowden certainly is doing great work in this area, I do not see any other examples. If you know of any, leave a comment here)

6. Listen to what the employees are saying to identify insights and opportunities. The social platform allow these voices to bubble up. Who's responsibility is it to listen to the voice of employees ( and I do not mean an annual HR survey)? Employees are chattering about business intelligence, competitors movement, latest wins and losses, customers' feedback, have your company invested in an approach to analyse and bring these intelligence shared into insights? Are these insights funnel to the right function for action? Who is in charge?

7. Observe what social tools are used by the employees. Give employees the tools they need to get their work done. This does not mean you force one single platform to do everything. Instead, make the social platform part of their day-to-day experience, make it part of their email, mobile experience.

8. See above

9. See above

10. Give employees value in using the social platform which they cannot get anywhere. It has to add value to each individual. And each individual will get something different out of it!

The conclusion is that these 10 steps are as relevant to introduce social platform internally within an enterprise. However, I would argue that the maturity level is so much lower than in the consumer world, and it is going to take a long time to change, especially in these area:
- invest in content and engagement with employees (We have managing employees in a "mechanistic" way since the industrial revolution. Here is an opportunity to go back to basic and treat each employee as valuable living breathing human beings with passion, dreams and emotions and listen to what they can offer)
- good dialogue (Good leaders do it all the time. Look around the workplace, and you notice that most dialogue is one-way, directional, with no give-and-take. Here is the opportunity to bring back two way dialogue and listening in the workplace)

This is tough. Not only seniors have to change, employees have to "unlearn" and take responsibility 

Companies are way ahead in the consumer world to embrace social technologies, including defining the processes and new roles to listen, engage and serve the customers. Within the firewall, whilst new social platform is being put in place, the required change in management practices has yet to catch up to fully realise the potential.

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