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How Human Resources can help craft social business


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article Gautam Ghosh wrote for the NHRDN India newsletter

Published in: Business, Technology
  • Hey GG, great article. Perfect roadmap for the future. IMHO, easier said than done due to culture / DNA / resistance to evolve / disrupting power centres. Believe its more a case of business redesign. The model has to be in the DNA.
    We have done something on similar lines at Groupe DELTA, where we view HR from a profit center lens. I hope to discuss this offline with you sometime. Shall message you.
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How Human Resources can help craft social business

  1. 1. HR, Social Media and creating theorganization of tomorrowAccording to an analysis of 4,200 companies by McKinsey, social technologies stand to unlock from $900billion to $1.3 trillion in value. Two-thirds of the value unlocked by social media rests in “improvedcommunications and collaboration within and across enterprises,”Over the last few years the external facing groups of companies have embraced (enthusiastically or insome cases- gingerly) social networks and online communities to connect with external stakeholders.Marketing, Customer Service and PR groups in organizations have leveraged it to build an army of fansand advocates.However, many feel that getting an organization ready internally should be the first step to being a true"social business". Social can scale only if employees are engaged and connected to each other andexternal stakeholders.However, the reality in most organizations is that the budget of the external facing groups is muchhigher. Social there also shows more immediate benefits and benchmarking is easy (however can getmisleading)So if there is budget available and executive sponsorship then an organization should focus on gettinginternally ready and externally focused at the same time. However for the vast majority of organizationsthe "social competencies" would be learned by folks in marketing, sales, PR, customer support and thentravel to the other parts of the organization.This is not to advise HR and other people in organizations not to focus on social - far from it. But torecognize that once top management understands the value of social media they would expect thatother groups then leverage the tools for their business ends.However there are differences. Externally social media campaigns can be done again and again to getacross to more and more customers/fans. However when launching a social initiative internally, it wouldneed to be successful in a far smaller group and would need to be designed to succeed.Often youll hear Social Business (or Enterprise 2.0) enthusiasts say - like we said in the days of KM -"The key to success is people, process and technology"And then followed by the statement - "Success is dependent 80/90 percent on people"I believe that "people" issues have a whole lot of other issues that get hidden behind that word thatcompanies might miss. I have mentioned "culture" in the title of the post which is itself like "people" acomposite of many other things.
  2. 2. Using social technologies (like internal blogs, wikis, micro-blogging, social networking etc) will not helpyou to increase the employee engagement scores of your organizations.Employee engagement is impacted by three factors: The engagement between the persons skills, passion and purpose with the role he/she isworking in. If you have a person in the wrong job, no matter what you do, the personsengagement level is unlikely to go up. The relationship between the manager and the person - and the team the person works with. Organizational cultureSocial tools can help a person do his/her work faster by making discovery of information and expertsfaster. However if any of the above three factors cause disengagement, its unlikely that the employeewould be using social tools - unless the tool is embedded in the way of work. As in, it auto updatesdetails and updates when the employee updates a business record. These kind of "social glue"technologies is still early stage.Factors that can help drive adoption of social technologies by employees Vision : Leaders and employees need to know why social technologies are being deployed andhow do they link to the existing vision of the company. Role Modeling: Leaders need to exemplify the sharing and collaboration behavior on social toolsthat they expect employees to display. Rewards and Recognition: Social tools have to be in the "flow of work" - but traditional rewardsystems that do not recognize and reward new behaviors would be a hindrance to widespreadadoption. Linkage with goals: The team focusing on implementation needs to learn with each and everygroup in the organization to map how social technologies can help them achieve their goals - ina faster and better way. Without articulating that, the support of crucial group leaders andmiddle managers would be a pipedream. Finding and empowering employee advocates: Data shows that according to various studies thatin most large workplaces the majority of the employees are not engaged or disengaged.Expecting them to adopt new tools without being clear of future value is going to be difficult atbest. Organizations must map the actively engaged employees who are active creators andsharers of content and showcase how the platforms have helped them achieve their goals. Organizational values: These are the big ways in which shape the behavior of employees. Isdissent encouraged? What happens when people make mistakes? Can leaders be questionedand criticised openly? How do they respond to such questions? These are the "norms ofbehavior" which operate on the ground. Answers to such questions determine whether social,openness and transparency would thrive in the organization. Education and Training: Even though social tools seem to be intuitive to use – but the purposeand how of using would need to be communicated
  3. 3. Companies who expect such employees will get engaged and involved in sharing and participation needto address the root causes of disengagement and then expecting the tools to increase engagement.While companies come to terms with employee usage of social media and HR departments startworking on “regulating” social media usage and come up with “policies” – I think they are missing onekey point – leveraging social tools to make HR itself a social activity.In a certain way, HR is ripe for social disruption. It impacts external perception (employer branding) andinternal employee engagement unlike any other part of the organization save the CEOLet’s start with policies themselves. Using a social tool which leverages crowdsourcing ideas fromemployees can help HR in co-creating processes and policies – and raising acceptability when they arefinally rolled out. Dell’s EmployeeStorm is a great example by which employees give ideas on everythingin the company. Recruitment – Since it’s an external facing part of HR the Recruiting teams have been quick toleverage social media to “Broadcast” vacancies and several applications. However the next levelwould be actively creating and nurturing communities of practice shaped around skills wherehiring managers can gauge level of skills of people and also develop them Learning: Social technology can make learning more of a continuous process than the 2-3 dayevent it currently is. These tools can also be used by trainers to add more to the classroom andcreate a community of learners who can continue to share experiences and be a support groupas they implement learnings in their workplace. Marcia Conner’s book “The New SocialLearning” shows how various firms are using tools to augment employee training. Employee communication is often the most ignored aspect of HR initiatives without too muchthought or resources being dedicated to it. HR people often forget that communication is a twoway process. In my view it is critically important to listen to what employees are saying, and thatis an aspect that is usually not done in organizations on a regular basis, apart from an annual orsemi annual satisfaction surveys. Communication is the bedrock on which the success of changeinitiatives depend. More and more listening to employees. I foresee large organizations large organizations willsoon start analyzing data on which employees are thought leaders, experts and influentialamongst the workforce (like marketing does for external customers) and try and build them asemployee advocates. Recognition : Companies like Rypple, Globoforce have started the concept of social peerrecognition and it can be a powerful factor to excite employees than traditional reward andrecognition. Knowledge Sharing: Forget the idea of databases acting as “repositories” of knowledge, internalsocial networks can capture employees work activity as social intranets connect deeper intobusiness applications – and team members can follow what others are doing on their activitystreams. Newer tools like Opzi and MindQuilt can also emerge as a enterprise version of Quora,the popular Q&A site.
  4. 4. As more and more younger workforce enter organizations, their expectations shaped by consumersocial applications like facebook, twitter and blogging, they would want access to similar tools within theworkforceThe next step would be mobile. For example many internal networks are already available as a mobileapps. This would be a key aspect for organizations with a large sales force who are distributed and needconstant communication.Communication would lead to collaboration – as more and more employees connect and communicatewith each other, they would change work processes itself, making things work faster better andchanging processes. Organizations have to continue being open and continue the trusting processesearlier.Can employees and HR professionals and management folks together work together using social media -to do work that was only done by HR people?Lets think about the aspects of HR work and what can be made "social"The skills needed for HR people to become savvy sociallyTo manage online communities – HR people would need to become community managers. Communitymanagers are online facilitators who understand how people connect and share online and understandwhat kind of discussions and content gets people to open up and share.Community management is a subset of roles incorporate various disciplines - and can best be describedas Technopologists - a combination of marketing (or recruiting/HR), technologist and socialanthropologist.The focus of the online Community Managers would be to bring in members leveraging the weak tiesbetween people - and providing content around the social object of the community - so that they helpmembers develop strong ties.Communities and LearningTalent communities are where people go to connect with fellow professionals and learn. Hence they aremore “communities of practice” than anything else.Talent communities are places one goes to find experts and also to build their own personal careerbrand.Companies must engage in talent communities by letting their internal experts connect with and buildtheir own networks.The best Talent Community Facilitator would be an expert in the roles – not necessarily a recruiter.
  5. 5. The Talent community is a place to discuss, solve others problems, share war stories and visions of thefuture, to look at where the field is headed and what are the skills needed tomorrow.The focus on jobs/recruiting has to be secondary to the above.The skills a Talent Community Facilitator would be a combination of facilitation, teaching, guiding,triggering conversations, mapping the skills of community members and of course skills in the domain ofthe community.How to Implementation an Internal Social NetworkCreate a Social Media Policy – This is a comprehensive document that spells out in detail the behaviorexpected from the people with access to the enterprise collaboration network. This would include theways they can use access to the software and what kind of information they should share and also thekind of confidential information they should not share. It would also clarify that they have to be civil intheir online discussions.Social Network Needs Survey – Conduct a survey of the employees who to find the following: The challenges they face in information sharing and accessing expertise The level of openness in the organization Their comfort with using social tools to share information and engage with others The challenges in keeping track of changes to information and version control The challenges of managing email overload The familiarity of colleagues who are not in their immediate teamLeadership Readiness Survey – Identify areas in which the leadership can support the internal network.This survey would be administered to the department heads and other leaders identified. The surveywould identify the following:1. The goal what they want from this implementation.2. The challenges they have in communicating with the employees.3. Their own readiness to be role models in implementation and usage of the tool.Survey FindingThe focus would be on the following:1. The culture and processes that support the enterprise collaboration software2. The needs of the organization where information sharing will have the immediate and most impact.
  6. 6. 3. The strategy and planning for the implementation of the tool.Implementation and Set-UpDecide on: Content to be prefilled on the software Access Controls Department Creation Project Creation People who would have administrative controlsThe modules in the tools that need to be activated and which ones do not need to be. Who will haveaccess to which content and module would also need to be decided. Other processes which need to bemoved to the tool would also need to be decided and users trained on how to use the social technologyto do that process.2. Ongoing Community cum Engagement ManagementChoosing Community Managers and training them on community management is critical to adoption ofthe internal network. Designing communication plan (like a contest, internal campaign) before launch sothat people are excited when it launches and sign up.Launch internal social network by implementation of the designed Communication plan.Use social recognition to incentivize desired sharing behaviorsDesign a content plan for senior executives to share content like blogs, photos, updates on theenterprise network.The focus and objectives of these would be: Share company updatesSuggested Content Plan1. Company Updates2. Client wins3. Rewards & Recognition.4. Ideas/Suggestion5. Press Coverage of leadership/CompanyAssess: On going assessment of employee engagement – and driving engagement by triggeringconversations on a regular basis.
  7. 7. Outcomes: Survey of users after 6 months to find out if the network is helping them do their work betterand faster. Do they: Know more about colleagues Know more about their company Join and engage in internal communitiesOther outcomes could be:1. Metrics like how much time has come down to turn around a document.2. Tracking projects and assigning tasks are done on the network and not on emails3. People create interest based communities on their own and share interesting content on them.4. Employees give each other recognition and therefore raise motivation and engagement.Implementing external online communitiesBefore implementing external communities organizations should conduct a “listening exercise” usingthird party tools (simple to complicated, free to paid all available) and find out if there are anyconversations about it and if there are, what is the tonality of that conversation.Once a listening exercise has been conducted a purpose of external communities has to be articulated,why, which target group, and which channel. After that what content and conversations need to becreated and therefore roles assigned to people either internally or to an outsourced partner. Anescalation and response plan also needs to be in place, if questions and doubts are articulated.In conclusionIn conclusion, social media can be used in a variety of ways, and it is not a question of if but when, allcompanies would need to respond and react to it. The ones that make the initial moves will be thewinners over the laggards. HR has a critical role to play and also one of the critical functions that wouldbe impacted by business being social. To be relevant HR needs to build its own capability in social as wellas facilitate the change that organizations will go through.