5 Reasons Why You Should Use an Enterprise Social Network

by guest blogger emplo

ESN-780x514

Most of us are familiar with some form of social media that we use for various reasons both business and personal. In this day and age, it’s hard to even go outside without hearing about the latest on Facebook or Twitter. Many networking opportunities have also opened up with businesses as job seekers and hiring managers have come together on LinkedIn. The hot topic this year, however, is something of an inside-out version of social media, though it is a bit more complicated than that. Enterprise social network is revolutionizing the way many companies do business and facilitate collaboration between management and employees.

So why should companies be paying more attention to this trend? Well, a few reasons come to mind.

1.Increased Employee Morale

It’s no secret that a happy employee is a good employee. When employees enjoy their jobs and are happy where they are they are more likely to be productive, to bring fewer conflicts, and of course, they are more likely to stay at their jobs. Employee retention and productivity are vital to a company’s success and most agree that low or standard turnover rates are a big plus.

So what does this have to do with an enterprise social network? Employees are more likely to be happier if they know that their voices and ideas are heard by management. Aside from that, however, there are studies that at least suggest that in general people are happier when they’re connected to social media. Judging by this couldn’t one say that an enterprise social network could also have the same effect, that an employee will be happier at his or her job if they’re connected to the company?

2.Improved Communication Between Employees and Management

One of the areas where many companies fail to successfully implement an ESN is in the area of listening. Often an enterprise social network fails to engage employees and no one ends up using it. For this reason, many companies give up on the idea before they even begin. On the other hand, those with the business savvy to do so, have very successfully engaged in the art of listening. So why is this important? Who knows better than the employee what happens on the floor? Some of the best ideas come from seemingly the most unlikely of places, and when those ideas are heard, listened to, and receive a real response – companies thrive. Take for example JobCloud – a Swiss recruitment company. Since they have started using an enterprise social platform – emplo, communication between their German and French-speaking branches has become much more effective. Employees are up to date with what’s happening in different offices, they express their opinions more freely and are more keen on sharing ideas.

3. Enhanced Collaboration

As you probably know, the most important aspect of effective collaboration is communication. Communication failure is the most frequent problem that businesses face which cripples companies to the core. This includes communication within departments, between departments, and of course communication between management and personnel. When the lines of communication are both solid and open it empowers the employee, which empowers the organization. In addition, employees are more productive, and happier at their jobs when they are informed and connected.

4. Reduced Internal Emails and Increased Productivity

Many companies that implemented an ESN have stated that a few of the goals include reducing the overall volume of company emails as well as reducing the need for company meetings. These traditional forms of communication can often be lost in translation and they take up time, effort, and ultimately money in implementation that could be used building profits. So what’s the solution? A social media platform! An ESN allows companies to distribute company-wide information at a fraction of the cost, in a fraction of the time. For example, Smart MBC after implementing emplo have managed to reduce the number of internal emails by an overwhelming 97%. It also had a very positive impact on the employee productivity.

5 . Geographically Dispersed Teams Brough Closer Together

In the case of larger companies, time and space tend to complicate things a little in the way of communication. How do you get an idea or an important bit of information to members of a company that crosses international borders? Even with the advancements of internet communications, that’s still no easy endeavor. It turns out thatCoca-Cola and a few other companies used these platforms to do just that, and have never regretted it.

Advertisements

Earning employee respect: the first key to engagement

buildingRespectv31600x900-1

by guest blogger Deb Lavoy

Recently we conducted a survey to explore differences in how employees and executives view issues around employee engagement. We learned a lot and we shared our findings in a white paper. We observed that the strongest predictor of employee engagement turns out to be a tie between the level of employee respect for executive leadership, pride in working for the company, a positive feeling about the company culture, and a sense that your work matters.

That’s not very surprising. What may surprise you is that the presence of an employee engagement program is not nearly as strong a predictor of engagement as these other factors. In other words, we learned that you must invest your efforts in building leadership respect, pride, meaning, and a positive culture. That’s what makes the difference.

That’s easy to say. But what can you do about it?

Let’s take them one at a time. Respect for leadership first. Executives themselves are key to deepening the level of respect employees have for them. Reading, research, and personal observation suggest that there are four things that make leaders respected:

  1. Competence

Needless to say, people respect competence. But when judging their leaders, people are not necessarily (or at least not only) looking for technical competence. People are looking for competence in decision-making and problem solving. They would like you to be someone that remains calm and capable even when things get hard or complicated.

If you know you have some leadership skills that need work, be bold enough to acknowledge the gaps to yourself, if not to others. Find coaches and mentors outside your organization who either exhibit these traits you want to build, or find other ways to focus on your strengths while finding ways to work with your challenges. Be brave enough to acknowledge both your strengths and your weaknesses within your organization. Also be aware that you may be blind to some of your weaknesses. Talk to people whose insight you trust and respect. You will be all the more powerful for it.

  1. Integrity

If what you say in “private” contradicts what you say in public, you will not be trusted. If you are known to enable and promote political shenanigans in the workplace, people will disrespect you for it. If employees believe that you are not acting in your customers’ best interests or in theirs, you will not be respected. If you say diminishing or demeaning things about people, you may be feared, but you will not be respected.

All this may seem obvious, but realize that it’s very easy for people to misinterpret your good judgment. Even if you know you’re making decisions in accordance with a strict code of values, it’s important to make that known. In cases where decisions are hard, because all options seem to compromise one value or another, it may be a great opportunity to draw attention to the decision. Explain how you see the pros and cons. Let people see that you will make a hard or unpleasant decision for the right reasons.

  1. Humility

People rarely respect people who think they have all the answers. People who ask great questions earn more respect than those who believe they are right about everything. But the key issue here is that you want your team to offer you their best. If you never ask for their ideas and input, you’ll never get most of what you’re paying for.

Two of the world’s most respected leaders – the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis – are known for their humility. While religious leadership and humility seem to make sense together, a lot of business leaders are not sure about their relationship with humility. How can you be humble and command respect at the same time?

Two things. First, remaining open-minded is a form of humility that most leaders can be comfortable with. Open-minded leaders listen and ask questions. They allow for the possibility that they may not be the smartest person in the room every day and on every topic.

The second component of humble leaders is that they make a point of discerning and respecting the strengths in others. A leader who can sincerely, rather than patronizingly, see and acknowledge the strengths in others rapidly earns respect. Even better, he or she sets an example of behavior that builds a very positive culture and organization. Beware though. People are very good at discerning the difference between sincere respect and lip service. They can tell when you’re trying to check the box. Employee appreciation, when honest and sincere, is deeply appreciated. Half-hearted, insincere or hollow praise is toxic.

  1. Visibility and transparency

If you’re a great decision-maker, remain calm under pressure, remain open-minded, and make decisions with only the best of intentions – you’re certainly a leader who has earned respect.

You will, however, only be as respected as you are visible. As an executive you’re a role model to your entire organization. You need to ensure that people can see how you make decisions and understand your reasoning. This is not a matter of self-promotion. This is how you earn the respect you need for your employees to feel engaged and able to do their best work.

Distrust and disrespect grow in dark corners unlit by information and visibility into what’s really going on. When people are left in the dark, they make things up. They rarely invent good and noble visions of what’s going on behind closed doors or back at headquarters.

Be in front of your team every day. If not physically, then digitally. Post a note, a comment, an essay, a status update, or an interesting article to your intranet. Ask a question. Be present. Be visible. Be known. Be the leader, not just of a company, but of a community.

Earning the respect of your employees is a worthy goal in and of itself. But it comes with the added benefit of winning the loyalty and dedication of your workforce. A well respected leader – according to our survey – has an average of 15% higher level of employee engagement. That translates into lower turnover, higher customer satisfaction, and greater financial performance. It’s also what leadership is about.

It’s satisfying to know that true employee engagement rests on building better leadership and approach to people. It’s not about picnics and awards. Some of these factors we’ve identified may seem hard to nail down. We’re finding more and more, however, that we can examine these issues more rigorously than in the past. We will publish more thorough analysis and practical advice on each of the core topics we found have meaningful impact: respect, positive culture, meaningful work, and pride in company.

Leading in the age of transparency

An interview with Rod Cartwright, Partner at Ketchum, and Kieran Colville, Director at Ketchum Change.

ketchum

Why is this the ‘age of transparency’ and what does that mean?

Rod: When we use the term transparency we are referring to the blurred line between the internal operations of a business and the external world of consumers, stakeholders and the media.  The line has been blurred mainly through the rise in digital and social media, which sees free-flowing information and content seized on and shared instantly.  This has changed the game for leaders because if the idea that they could “control” their organisation’s corporate culture and reputation was ever a reality, it most certainly isn’t now.

Kieran: I agree Rod, the game has changed.  You don’t need to look very far to find examples of employee communications that were “leaked”, got picked up by the media, and went viral, forcing leaders to respond and take action.  Those stories may have happened 20 years ago but today they spread so much faster and wider.

Can you tell us more about what the wider implications could be if an organisation fail to react?

Kieran: There are several.  Potential employees may be turned off; current employees may become disengaged; and ultimately consumers may question whether they would want to continue purchasing from this company. This is the crucial point.  Now more than ever, how engaged employees are, and therefore how much they promote and recommend the organisation, has a much larger impact on consumer confidence and loyalty than it used to because of this increased “transparency.”

Rod:  Indeed! And this has been one of the key findings of our global Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor (KLCM) study, which we’ve been running for five years now. The research with consumers across five continents sets out to answer two simple questions: “What does the world think of its leaders?” and “What can those leaders do to restore confidence?”  We have found that poor corporate leadership prompts one in two respondents to stop purchasing or to purchase less.

Kieran: To make it simple: leadership drives employee engagement, which drives consumer loyalty.  In 2014, “employees we know” came in at No.3 on the list of determinants of consumers’ purchasing behaviour, with the CEO coming in at No. 10 and other senior management at No. 13.  Leaders cannot ignore the importance of creating the right culture and engaging employees in the right way, as they are the brand ambassadors in today’s world.

This makes sense.  So how bad is the current state of affairs?

Rod: At no point in five years of running KLCM have more than 25 percent of respondents said leaders are leading well.  So consumer confidence is consistently poor, with demonstrable commercial consequences.

Kieran: What Rod said.  It is that stark.

Yes, that is glaring data.  It sounds like something the CEO should care about personally.

Rod: Absolutely.  However, in 2015 we highlighted the rise of the title-less leader, with respondents overwhelmingly favouring leadership provided by the entire organisation and everyone within it, rather than just from the CEO or senior management.

Kieran: From the study, respondents look strongly to leaders at all levels who seek collaborative solutions rather than doing it alone; are open and honest about the nature and scale of the challenges ahead; and have a clear overall vision for how their organisation can survive and thrive.  At Ketchum Change we have developed a practical model for helping leaders build capabilities in these areas: our approach is called Liquid Change Leadership to reflect the need to be readily adaptable in today’s volatile and complex environment.

Sounds very relevant.  How can leaders apply this Liquid Change Leadership model?

Kieran: It is very practical and actionable.  It has four capability areas: Transparent, Dialled-In, Pioneering and Agile, each with a positive level to do more of and a negative level to eliminate.  We will be covering this at our event on 20 October so you’ll have to come to find out more.

Rod: At the event we will also dive into the study in more detail.  The latest results point to leadership communication that needs to be more “feminine” and diverse, and we will discuss what this means.

Sounds intriguing, I will definitely be there.  Thank you both for your time today.

Kieran: Thank you, this is a critical area for leaders at a critical time, so we appreciate the opportunity to discuss it.

Rod: Thank you.  See you on 20 October.

Interview by James Murphy EEA

Kieran and Rod will be speaking at our next event on October 20th – Leading in the age of transparency

 

Lesson 1. Working Out Loud: Sales Team in a global healthcare company

by guest blogger 

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAWxAAAAJDM3MTUzNjIzLTM0ZGUtNDQ3Zi1iY2VhLTg1NzdkMGVkNWYwMw

Gloria Lombardi interviewed me … Lessons on Working Out loud from GSK.

One of my personal favourite working out loud Yammer success stories is by a sales team launching a new pharmaceutical product.

Have you tried Working Out Loud in a Network #wolan? A four-part change management approach:

1. #wolan model. Combines Working Out Loud with enterprise business tools e.g. Enterprise Social Networks. Purpose is to nurture conversations to help fix business problems, support business strategy alignment, encourage knowledge networking and demonstrate the right behaviours and values.

2. Decrease email dependency. Diminishing a lateral two-dimensional command and control structure; providing depth breadth width of a company with need to know, interesting, actionable real-time information from the authentic source point. Email will still be necessary for alerts, confidentiality, 1:1 discussion.

3. Business intelligent #hashtags. Hashtags are user-generated labels on social tools like Twitter that makes it easier to find and amplify a message with a specific theme. Purpose of a “business intelligent hashtag”, virally generated by employees is to amplify WHAT YOU DO & HOW YOU DO IT and in turn, creating internal digital DNA!

4. Qualitative questions. Demonstrate the business value of your network in the early stages, and again at tipping point. Share stories/insights not just about the size of your network but the quality within!

Here’s a top quality Enterprise Social Network business value improvement story for a product launch by a sales team in a global healthcare company that used the #wolan approach.

Working Out Loud in A Network - #wolan ApproachFREE DOWNLOAD: WORKING OUT LOUD IN A NETWORK – #WOLAN APPROACH

Working Out Loud in A Network decreases email dependency by removing the limits of a typical lateral, two-dimensional command and control structure.
Download the #wolan approach to learn more!

GET YOUR FREE DOWNLOAD

Group purpose: Public group for a UK sales force to share field ideas, challenges, and successes and support colleagues. c. 300 members.

Which company strategy did your group align to? Bringing the highest quality pharmaceutical products to market safely, efficiently and effectively.

Did your group demonstrate our culture? Yes! It shouted out what we do and why we’re doing it with personal accountability, continuous improvement, voice of the customer, “go and see” feedback from healthcare practitioner (HCP) visits (no PII), and shared problem solving and stakeholder engagement.

What were the problems that needed to be fixed: We needed to find a way for our field based teams to raise questions, give feedback, share learnings, celebrate success thought out the launch phase of a new pharmaceutical product and be visible to the brand teams, their colleagues and the UK management teams.

How would you have fixed it in the past without an Enterprise Social Network? We didn’t really have a fix in the past. Issues could be escalated through the sales line but this would not allow any input from anywhere else. We may have used a phone for team queries and results would probably have been saved up until team meetings. Plus of course plenty of random emailing!

What did the Enterprise Social Network help you do, that wasn’t possible before? In short, collaborate! Teams from across the country were able to share tips, advice and support in a timely manner. Equally, the fact that this group was open (public in the enterprise) ensured that our head office teams were also fully in the loop and this enabled them to keep a finger on the pulse throughout the launch and post-launch. The management team had a screen with the group feed installed near their team table so that everyone had continuous visibility. This group acted as a catalyst for the other product launch teams in Europe and Australia to emulate the Enterprise Social Network approach with their product launches, of which they’re actively doing.

What were the benefits of this to the people involved, and to our company? For our field teams, having Enterprise Social Network accessible via their mobile devices has meant that they can stay in touch with their teams and the business wherever they are. We can share key business info via this group and invite comments and discussion where and when appropriate. It gives us insight into what is happening around the business (especially in the sales field) and gives everyone the opportunity to collaborate, work across boundaries and share sales successes.

“Yammer really helped us throughout the product launch – enabling us to build engagement and providing a space where the whole business could collaborate. We were able to share the voice of the customer, patient experiences and our own insights in real time, which added real value to our conversations”. Product Launch VP, global healthcare company

This is the first in a series of success stories we’ll be sharing here over the coming weeks on how Enterprise Social Network demonstrated business value in: R&D, manufacturing, support services, fundraising, induction and communities of practice private groups – end to end enterprise ways of working! All stories include senior leader quotes plus tips and tactics you can steal with pride.

These stories were posted on the company intranet under people strategy as the stories are also about the hard work of the group managers (champions) who brought the groups to life. They were encouraged to use the stories in their year-end appraisals.

Working Out Loud in a Network #wolan, four-part change management approach is endorsed by a German Works Council in a global healthcare company, Warwick Business School/Digital Workplace Group and Microsoft Yammer.

This empowered working out loud story helped make life better and employees closer to the patient. And, for Corporate Communicator’s a license to work across silos and get right to the heart of the business. To authentically report on the business value of working out loud supporting business strategy, demonstrating company culture, strategic transformation and imparting internal DNA. No PII shared.

I was not the owner of the sales team Yammer group. Merely co-created and shared the story. It inspired me to go on a road trip to develop Working Out Loud in A Network#wolan approach whilst undertaking in-house lean sigma training. I learned many helpful project management skills from the training, and the reality that…

email is a wasteful way of working andcollaborating by working out loud is the future of work that delivers business value!

More stories soon, but in the meantime get your free copy of the #wolan approach today!

Lesley will be speaking at our next event – Using Enterprise Social Networks to nurture employee engagement and advocacy

Your Culture Is About How You Treat People

cultureArticlev21600x900 (1)

by guest blogger Deb Lavoy

Over the last few months we’ve been sharing what we learned when we asked 320 people about their level of engagement at work, along with a bunch of other things, such as how employees view executives, and how executives view employees. We published a white paper with Brian Solis on what he called the “Engagement Gap” – the difference between employee and executive views of engagement. Since then, we’ve published discussions on the three of four things that we found most impact employee engagement: respect for leadership, work that matters, and pride in company. Now we’re looking at another major predictor of high employee engagement – a positive view of the corporate culture.

Interestingly, a positive view of culture is the least powerful of the four employee engagement predictors. This could very well be, however, because of the fact that “culture” is not a very well understood idea.

Ask someone in the field what organizational culture is, and they’ll say something like “a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs, which governs how people behave in organizations.” But what does that actually mean? How do you build a positive culture?

You’ve heard the expression that life is what happens while you’re doing something else? Well, so is culture. A company’s culture is a behavioral experience, but it’s also an emotional one. To get that positive culture – the one that makes employees feel engaged and committed, you want that to be a positive emotional experience. Why?

Whether or not you believe the recent New York Times story on the culture at Amazon, you can be certain that parts of it are true. You’ve probably been in situations that echo that nastiness. It’s what I call “management by fear.” It makes you sick, it dulls your creativity, it makes work 99% anxiety and tricks people into stretching themselves far too thin in order to prove something. This is clearly a toxic environment. Did Amazon set out to create a toxic environment? Not likely.

A recent Harvard Business Review article “Why organizations don’t learn” cites a gap similar to the Engagement Gap. They cite the gap between the fact that nearly all companies believe innovation and learning are essential to success, and how few companies are consistently successful in doing that. The learning gap is not about intelligence but about fear of failure and the need to sustain the status quo. This fear begins with the CEO, who passes it down through the ranks. It would seem that fear is the most common barrier to a good culture. It prevents us from treating one another with the respect and compassion that great collaboration and great culture demands.

Why so scared?

We fear failure, we fear our own vulnerabilities. We fear the scorn of others. The classic hierarchical organization is a perfect environment for fear to flourish and grow. It’s a rare and remarkable leader who can overcome these fears and create an environment of learning, listening, common aspirations, and trust.

Can you set out to create a positive culture?

You can set out to create a positive learning environment. You can commit to a set of values that you believe in. You can model the behavior you want to see. You can hire people who share your attitudes and values – as long as you balance that with the need for diversity that is clearly required for real innovation.

But first, you need to be clear-eyed and honest about your intentions. Is it your intention to invest in people because they will drive profitability? Or is it your intention to pursue profitability at the expense of people? Be honest with yourself. The former requires a significant act of faith – that people can and will do great things in the right environment.

Several recent research articles attribute hiring, training, and promotion practices as key drivers of culture. This makes some sense, as it looks to “attitudes and behaviours” which are about people interacting with people. Healthy, Mexican fast food chain, Chipotle, has been hiring for the values they think will make them successful. That is, they don’t hire for skills, they hire for values and attitudes. Then they train. A lot.

Costco has a similar approach. They hire well, pay well, and train, train, train. And, as compared with Walmart, they are vastly more efficient and profitable. This recent Bloomberg article cites Costco’s average hourly wage as $20.89 vs Walmart’s $12.67. They also note some (radical) differences in their stock performance. The pay differential is only one of many differences in the two approaches to employees. The level of training and commitment to those employees is fundamental to building that culture of treating each other well.

Why does training matter? The more capable your people are, and the more deeply they understand the business, the more you can trust their judgment. If you can trust someone’s character (because that’s why you hired them) and trust someone’s judgment (because you’ve given them all the training they need) you can let them use their discretion. You no longer need to micromanage them. You can allow them to think, to serve to commit. You can allow them to do good. Importantly, this also allows you to do good. It’s an act of courage. It’s an act of humility that recognizes the value and potential contribution of others. It’s a mindset that believes you are not the only smart person in the room.

Even more so, all this training and compassion allows employees to treat one another with respect, trust, and compassion. They are confident in one another’s skills. They are respectful, confident, and humble in balance. Training and values can do that.

It would appear that these different approaches also have a very noticeable impact on performance and momentum.

 

Picture2

 

Picture1

 

Picture3

So how can we invest in a positive culture?

  1. Commit to a set of principles or values that drive your decision making after examining the truth and depth of your commitment to them.
  2. Hire and train people in accordance with those values.
  3. Encourage everyone to treat one another well, by treating them well.
  4. Ensure that those people and those values inform every decision.
  5. Fight your fear with courage and humility, and help everyone else do the same.

So the real secret to a great culture is to treat one another well. The secret to treating people well is to think about what your values are and commit to them. The Scylla and Charybdis of positive culture are hypocrisy and fear. They will constantly try to undermine your efforts. It takes ongoing courage, humility, and compassion to help yourself and your team past them.

There are companies whose management will berate and bully people. But there are also companies that have the courage to invest in people and build trust in them and vice versa. We’re delighted to see that the good guys are winning with employees, customers, and the stock market.