Anybody familiar with this blog knows I have a passion for Social Business. In fact, it’s almost an (un)healthy obsession.
I just believe this is the way forward for people and businesses alike. Not just to make a bigger profit, although that is one heck of a motivator for many, but mainly because of the positive effect it has on the employees involved.
We know that employee engagement is at a worrisome low. And we know that being engaged with the company you work for makes you more productive, brings more satisfaction and, overall, makes you happier. This, you take home with you. The opposite end of the stick, feeling unhappy, you also bring home with you.
So, my wife works in an old-school company. She, like so many others, brings her work home with her. And we talk about it.
Below is a list of some of the things she brings up, and where there is room for improvement.
- Meetings are behind closed doors, results are not shared
- Input is requested, but feedback is not given
- Corrections are communicated via e-mail, usually limited to one person
- Changes are communicated via e-mail only
- Reorganizations are only communicated after all decisions are made
- Many work on the same problem, without communicating
- Many invent the wheel, over and over again
- Management is fully disconnected
- Information is hoarded
- The Intranet is a static forest of documents
- Social Media is banned
One reason why she notices this, is that most people would notice it. The main difference is, because of me yapping on and on about Social Business, she knows things can be significantly better.
A recent post mentioned Post*Shift, their motto is “Building 21st Century Business”. This ‘slogan’ might need a bit more definition, but in essence it states what is inherently “wrong” with many businesses.
My wife sees this, knows this, and she’s turning into a Corporate Rebel. She doesn’t go out of her way to pick a fight, but when asked, she will let people know.
Keeping At It
The process of adapting to change is not a quick one. Remember, it’s more of an evolution than a revolution, we cannot force this change, it has to mature in an organic way.
As an employee within a firm that still has a long way to go, you cannot push anybody, or anything into submission.
You have to drop little seeds. Let’s run through that list again, but know from a Rebels perspective.
- If you (need to) have a meeting, let people know, maybe they can add something useful. And if they ask, tell them what it is about and volunteer the results
- When you give input to a manager (or anybody else), let them know right away you expect some feedback. If they do not give this, ask for it, then at least you tried
- If you receive corrections on some workflow, save them in a document, and take responsibility for that document. Then share it with colleagues, and even better, ask for their input
- If you receive (serious) changes via e-mail, discuss this with your colleagues, ask if they read them and understand them. If not, point them to the e-mail or discuss it with your manager
- Reorganizations are always tricky, but, keep asking questions. Maybe volunteer information, or ask your colleagues what they would like and communicate this to management. At least you let them know, whether they do something with it or not is up to them
- When you find out several people are working on the same problem, try and set a meeting to get them all together, or at least let everybody know they’re working on the same problem
- Sharing your findings on any problem may prevent anybody else going through the same process. Not as easy as it sounds, you still need to know first. Always ask questions, it’s the best way to obtain information
- Engaging management is always tricky, at best. Push them too hard and you’re a problem, don’t push them and you’ll get stuck quickly. Find a balance here, but keep asking and engaging, at some point, it will turn around, you are not doing anything wrong
- When asked directly, most people will give up information. It doesn’t benefit the business if a colleague doesn’t answer a question, they know this. And when you report to management, give credit where credit is due
- The Intranet is always a messy problem. Somebody or some department owns it (usually HR), and they will not be willing to give up this control. They’ll fight you on it. However, providing suggestions for improvement can never hurt. Especially when you have several colleagues (allies) who agree and stand with you
- Banning Social Media is not productive. Studies have shown that opening up social enhances an employees engagement. People need to unwind, from time to time. Also, developing their professional network benefits everybody. Keep bringing this up at meetings and evaluations. Offer to investigate, talk with legal and HR, find out if a (proper) policy can be written
There are several things that can help tremendously with these issues.
If the company you work for has a platform (any platform) where some form of collaboration can be done, you can claim an area and create a community around a single issue, problem or discussion. Get people enthusiastic about it, and try to do all communication via that tool, keep it in one place.
It doesn’t have to be big and all encompassing.., what we’re looking for is small and successful, and, preferably.., repeatable.
Some folks go outside the company for such tools (Dropbox is popular), but this is usually frowned upon by management, if not to say against company policy, be careful with that.
But, investigate, with a modern version of Microsofts Office suite, plenty of collaboration tools come as standard. Nobody might use them, or even know about them, but it doesn’t mean they’re not there.
Having a social presence is, by now, a must. Social can no longer be ignored and it shouldn’t be feared. It is, by any definition, an important step to take for a company.
At 300 million active users on Google+, 1.23 billion accounts on Facebook and 234 million active users on Twitter (to name but a few), one can say Social Media has gotten a firm foothold in our society. More then enough reason to at least investigate the options. And even though Social Media and Social Business are not as comparable as many think, it is a good place to start.
If your company has a social presence, it should be more aware of this mythical on-line world. And it will be far easier to take that step in opening up social to employees. And for you a good argument to bring it up.
Don’t Be Afraid
Get to it, talk about it, get information. Don’t go at it alone, you’ll most like stumble and fall. Get expert advice, there’s plenty available by now. People like Céline Schillinger and Peter Vander Auwera have gone before you, and have written extensively about it.
Remember, it’s about hearts and minds, confidence and trust. Transparency and opening up are things most office people are not used to.
Small steps, take your time, and don’t be afraid.