Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Guest Post: Social Business and HR, Part 2

First, thanks again to Jon Hyman for the chance to write on a different but related topic – Social Business. As I mentioned in Part 1, I’m finding that a surprisingly high percentage of HR folks have not yet tapped into the incredible power of the Social Web. Perhaps this series will be helpful, at least at a high level. Feel free to question or comment in the Disqus form at the end of the post.

In Part 1 of this 3-part series on Social Business, the subject was Online Reputation Management. In this Part 2, the focus will be on Social Business and Internal Communications. We will finish the series in Part 3 with a look at the 3 R’s - Recruiting, Recognition, and Retention and how Social Business amplifies those efforts.

Part 2: Internal Communications

Two key trends which are important to understand in the context of changing dynamics in the workplace:

     1. Work-from-home [For further study: link to Google search on the topic]

Few will argue with this trend. The question then becomes, “How do we best manage the flow of information given limited face-to-face interactions in offices, conference rooms, hallways, and breakrooms?”

     2. Collaboration versus Command-and-Control [For further study: Google search]

This trend isn’t happening at the same high velocity as work-from-home, but nonetheless, it is a key generational difference between the retiring boomers and the emerging Millennials. In between, savvy Gen-X’ers that are transitioning into corporate leadership know that internal Collaboration is the key to sustainability and winning in the marketplace.

Two secrets of internal communications that winning companies aren’t sharing:

     1. Enterprise Social Networks and the gradual replacement of internal email

Without going into all the issues around internal email, it’s widely recognized that traditional email such as Outlook is an ineffective tool for collaboration. Enough said. The question is, “How are winning companies solving the problem of email?” They are changing the game, changing the technology, and with it, changing the culture of the enterprise. We’re not talking about Facebook and Linkedin, Twitter, or any of the public Social Networks. Enterprise Social Networks are completely different technologies, although they leverage the same basic features of public networks, like profiles, status updates, friends and followers, newsfeeds, public and private groups, blogs, and media sharing. Perhaps you may be familiar with Sharepoint – Intranets with some Social capabilities. That’s not it either. These new tools are Enterprise Social Networks built from the ground up in Social Tech – tools like Jive and IBM Connections. Here’s a nice list from Mashable.

How are ESN’s changing the game? McKinsey ran a study a few years ago that attempted to answer this very question. I wrote about the study here. Bottom line? Significant increases in productivity. Significant decreases in internal fact-finding meetings. Significant improvements in employee morale and ultimately, significant gains in customer satisfaction.

A quick story: About two years ago, I sat in the Philadelphia conference room of a major international insurer and discussed their roll-out of an ESN the year before. I spoke with the AVP, Employee Communications about the results of the ESN pilot in one of the business units. Net net, she said, “They won’t be going back to internal email. Ever.”

     2. Internal Social Media that facilitates peer-to-peer wisdom – The DIKW Window

How does internal Social Business make companies run better, faster, cheaper? Corporate silo’s are bad for business, right? Common knowledge. Social Media by design is intended for broad consumption. Blogs, Blog Comments, Video, etc. – extensive research over the last 10 years by various outlets continuously point to the conclusion that these types of collaborative media, when executed effectively, communicate better, faster, and cheaper than print, email, and other traditional forms of media.

Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom

Moving from raw Data to profitable Wisdom often takes years of experience, usually from the school of hard knocks. There really is no substitute for experience, is there? Companies that are losing the battle of the brain drain, either through retiring staff or unplanned exits, face a loss of wisdom that will take years to regain. Meanwhile, this leaves the company vulnerable to the competition. Again, research shows that old-school approaches to internal communications, command-and-control hierarchies, non-collaborative management styles, inflexible work-life balance policies, all combine to lead to dissatisfaction and ultimately defection.


For now, until the next major technological development goes mainstream, Social Business is the key to competitive advancement, profitability, and perhaps even sustainability. Again, as Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) famously said in Jurassic Park, “Must go faster.”

What questions or comments do you have? Do share in the comments below. Consider sharing this post via LinkedIn and Twitter. Perhaps others in your network will appreciate the share.

Thanks again to Jon Hyman for the guest blogging opportunity.

Coming soon: Part 3 – Social Business and Recruiting, Recognition, and Retention.