Leveraging Social Networking for Employee Performance

Over time social networking will shift the way we interact with people on our work teams, find external expertise when it’s needed, and share ideas and observations. Today’s technologies enable

Over time social networking will shift the way we interact with people on our work teams, find external expertise when it’s needed, and share ideas and observations. Today’s technologies enable a very different level of employee performance. Yet many companies are investing in the technology, only to find that the pay-off isn’t there.

The three most common mistakes we’ve found companies making, all leading to disappointing results, are:

>>Investing in broad-based collaborative technology with no clear business objective in mind,
>>Expecting people to behave differently, to collaborate, within old organizational models and practices, and
>>Believing that the role of management remains the same and leaders can mandate that people will collaborate.
>>Each of these mistakes gets in the way of successfully leveraging the business potential of social networking.

Success requires:

>>Starting with a clear, specific business intent in mind,
>>Investing in technology geared to your unique business processes,
>>Changing the relationship between employees and the corporation into a “community of adults,” and
>>Developing a distinctive, value-based work experience.

CLEAR BUSINESS INTENT

The use of today’s collaborative technology can bring a wide range of business benefits. For example, it can:

>>Tap people, expertise or other resources only as needed, making your fixed cost base more flexible,
>>Share ideas between previously unconnected groups or individuals,
>>Coordinate activities, allowing individuals more flexibility regarding when and where they work with greater visibility into the progress of the whole,
>>Poll a large number of individuals quickly to gather input or determine group-wide preferences, or
>>Allow multiple parties to discuss and issue or debate possibilities, before coalescing around an emerging consensus.

Each of these and other uses of collaborative technology in the workplace require a slightly different implementation design – for the technology itself, as well as for the adoption strategies. Being clear about what business goal you’re trying to achieve is the first step toward success.

TECHNOLOGY GEARED TO YOUR PROCESSES

Many of the early collaboration platforms geared for business were broad-based tools designed to allow general document sharing and team communication. Today,
there is growing recognition that, just as the business objectives of collaboration can be very company-specific, so, too, should the tools used be designed for your specific organization’s processes and needs.

For example,Moxie Software’s Employee Engagement Spaces™is designed around the way people work. It can be easily customized to integrate into organizations’ cultures,workflows, internal structures and data sources.

COMMUNITY OF ADULTS

Collaboration is an“adult” activity. It requires individuals to take initiative, use good judgment about what and what not to share, and so on. To foster a culture of collaboration, shift traditional employment practices to reflect an adult-to-adult relationship.

Allowing individuals more choice in their work arrangements is at the core of this shift. For example, progressive companies are beginning to focus on measuring results, while leaving the choice of when and where to perform the work to the individual. Others are breaking work into projects and giving employees options about the type of project they’d like to take on next or creating menu based work arrangements.

VALUES-BASED WORK EXPERIENCE

Finally, collaboration is a discretionary activity. People have to choose to do it and have to want to do it well. Leaders can create a context in which that is likely to happen, but collaboration cannot be mandated. It requires high levels of employee engagement.

High levels of engagement, and the associated discretionary effort, occur when work experiences reflect a clear set of values. For many today,meaning is the new money – it’s what people are looking for at work. Clear company values, translated into the day-to-day work experience, are one of the strongest drivers of an engaged workforce – primed for successful collaboration.

ABOUT TAMMY ERICKSON

Tammy Erickson is a McKinsey Award winning author and respected expert on
collaboration and innovation; on building talent and enhancing productivity; and on the nature of work in the intelligent economy. She is a senior advisor at nGenera Insight, a business unit of Moxie Software, which provides research and advisory services to forward thinking companies on enterprise collaboration strategies.

-Learn more about Moxie Software at www.moxiesoft.com.

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