The other day I was meeting with a group of corporate leaders and one of them said “I’m sorry I just can’t think about using social media with our employees – it’s too daunting! I mean, c’mon, wiki this, blog that, tweet what?”
Understandably yes, it can be overwhelming and confusing. Platforms, vendors, tools, oh my! Often this jargon can be enough to make your head spin.
But, there’s no need to be anti-social ....Here’s the secret - this shouldn’t be and isn’t about the technology. Social doesn’t happen without the people – the definition of ‘social’ IS people… and as for having a Ph.D. in wiki-ology, blog-ology or RSS-feedology - you don’t need it. The terms are actually more complex and mysterious than the tools themselves.
Social networking has the ability to be a real galvanizer for improving collaboration in our organizations – and helping to connect across the enterprise in ways we haven’t been able to do since travel budgets were completely unrestricted (umm, which was never).
Here are a couple of innovative ways I’ve seen these technologies used to help organizations solve their most pressing organizational issues.
Pfizer’s internal social efforts took off when they developed a solution to one of their organizational challenges – that is how to find a way to give employees access to critical info and to make sure the intellectual capital was retained and easily accessible internally. Pfizerpedia, their one-stop-shop for employees, holds more than 10,000 articles, videos and other content that their employees need to do their jobs everyday. As the effort continued, Pfizerpedia added more features and now allows employees to post blogs and collaborate with their counterparts around the world.
Numerous companies have been using CEO blogs to connect executives to employees (in other words: to humanize the leaders and show they're real people) – we all know that connecting employees to their leadership, in meaningful ways, has been an age-old organizational challenge.
At one Fortune 100 retailer, the CEO gets involved by participating in numerous brainstorming sessions through the online community groups. He also carefully listens to the contributions that associates are making each day in the community, and each quarter he cherry-picks a select group of employees for a virtual focus group to solicit ideas and provide feedback. For 3 months at a time, you have employees, across all levels, all able to provide their own two cents to their leader. As you can imagine, this translates to tremendous employee loyalty and enthusiasm for the brand and for the leader.
These are just a couple examples of the power of how these tools can enable change in your organization.
It’s true that to empower employees with a voice and tools like these requires leaders who are willing to be active participants in the conversation and managers who are able to facilitate and influence that dialogue.
For some companies that won’t be a far stretch and for others, there will have to be a complete resocialization.