Category Archives: HR

Six Reasons Why Social Business Strategists should read Mark Fidelman’s Socialized!

I bought Mark Fidelman Socialized! on Amazon at its full price (no discounts or coupons from Mark) and just finished devouring it. Fidelman  delivers a fundamental work that greatly contributes to the heated debate of Social Business development.  Fidelman not only shows, but proves how quintessential it is for businesses to harness the power of social.  Not only with tools and technologies, but first with their immediate communities aka company workforce.  Time is ripe for dismantling the prevailing command-and-control leadership style. The militaristic/hierarchical leadership approach ought to be replaced with Jon Husband’s Wirearchy structure.  So why should you read Socialized!Social Media ROI expert Dr. Natalie Petouhoff: “Fidelman’s ability to simplify key concepts like the Digital Village, Darwin’s Funnel, and the Digital Network, gives the reader a unique and important understanding of the power of Social Business. You’ll be sorry if you don’t read this book before your competitors do.”
 
Mark Fidelman: Socialized http://amzn.to/10gw8CR

Mark Fidelman: Socialized http://amzn.to/10gw8CR

Fidelman and his team interviewed business leaders around the globe in order to present to us a state-of-the-art social business road-map.  Fidelman lives and breathes what he writes.  He is the sort of individual any social minded person ought to connect with; either on Twitter/LinkedIn, and Forbes where he is a regular contributor.  Socialized! not only talks the walk but most importantly walks the talk.  It is a practical text-book backed up with countless case studies and examples anyone aspiring to become a social leader should be aware of and study
  
2. Culture, culture and more culture is the foundation to any social business undertaking
 
Fidelman emphasizes culture as the 101 prerequisite to any potentially successful Social Business Strategy.  Fidelman: “Why after all do we insist on employees following our orders, and why do we call it insubordination if they question them? … Yet the companies that are leading in today’s world recognize the benefit of an empowered workforce that feels connected to the organization.  Empowered employees understand not only how to make great products, but more importantly how to create cultures that continue to make great products well into the future.”  Socialized! will assist CMOs and CCOs (Chief Cultural/Customer Officers) not only to analyze their existent Social Business state, but provide them with a detailed 10-point Social Business Culture development program.  
 
3. Building first an internal digital village and then an external digital network
 
Once the infrastructure of a cooperative culture has been established, business leaders will need to handpick the internal evangelists and shepherds (regardless of their rank) who will co-create their internal digital village — the nuts and bolts to any Social Business foundation
 
CXOs need to remember that becoming a Customer Service or/and Customer-Experience oriented company first  requires the emotional support and buy-in of their internal communities or “Smart Tribes” (as coined by Christine Comaford in her brand new book).  These “Smart Tribes” or internal communities represent the company’s intrinsic power that will transform the  traditional working communities into enthusiastic business advocates.  
 
After the creation of an apropos culture and the establishment of the right people foundation, the social team will need to select the social media platforms and its supportive collaborative technologies (Intranet/Extranet/SCRM/Social Business Software).  This will make sure that the Social Business community sets up the proper internal tools to construct its external digital network.
 
4. The new Social Business Playbook
 
Youtility author Jay Baer states: “Socialized! is an imminently readable, practical, and modern guide to social business.  The playbook section alone is worth the price, and then some.  Fidelman has added an important piece to the corporate social transformation puzzle.” Fidelman:  “In practice, management should provide the right atmosphere, guidelines, technologies, and opportunities for employees to thrive.”  Socialized! delivers a 15-point playbook: here are some of the highlights:
 
– Building an internal and external community
– Connecting and empowering thought leaders
– Recruiting a Chief Social Strategist or a Chief Cultural/Customer Officer
– Becoming an own media publisher, which makes me think of Michael Brito’s upcoming book: Your Brand.
– Replacing traditional inbound marketing with content marketing
– Leveraging employees, suppliers and partners to foster innovation
– Enhancing customer support to become the strength of your company
– Using Gamification to engage employees, partners and customers
– Creating the potential for serendipitous relationships
 
This last point is my favorite and reminds me of the romantic comedy “Serendipity” starring John Cusack and  Kate Beckinsale.   Fidelman himself gives a wonderful example of serendipity with StaffUnity:  an automated employee lunch club system provider.
 
5. The rise of the social employee
 
Fidelman  makes the case that, social networks, consumerization of IT, mobility, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device: smartphones, phablets and tablets) and cloud computing are all being part of the social and technological developments a 21st century enterprise cannot fail anymore to ignore. 
 
6. Measuring the ROI (Return On Investment) of a Social Business Strategy
 
Fidelman stresses that social business initiatives should only be undertaken if those can be measured.   He goes on to say: “Before starting any social initiatives, you must first identify objectives such as:  “improving customer relationships, product innovation, acquiring and retaining employees and growing revenues.” 
 
 
Image Credit: PulsePointGroup.com: The Economics of the Socially Engaged Enterprise

Image Credit: PulsePointGroup.com: The Economics of the Socially Engaged Enterprise

 
Social Business metrics and ROI are  very well documented in a 2012 study by MIT in collaboration with the Deloitte institute.  The Economist Intelligence Unit and the PulsePoint Group published a study showing that 81% of interviewed leaders agree that social engagement has the following tangible benefits on the following areas:
 
– Project management
– Innovation
– Collaboration
– Efficiency gains
– Cost saving
 
In conclusion, Fidelman’s Socialized! is a management textbook that provides all the necessary steps for a clear pathway towards a successful social enterprise journey:  
 
1. Reviewing the existent culture of an enterprise
2. Setting up an internal digital village
3. Attaching an external digital village to the internal one
4. Establishing a social business strategy
5. Measuring Social Business ROI
6. Reviewing, correcting, adapting and repeating
 
Any leader wanting to understand the implications and repercussions  of a Social Business development program should study and dissect Socialized!.  Kudos and thanks to Mark Fidelman’s altruistic attitude for having taken the time to give us one of the best researched Social Business Strategy text-books ever written thus far. 
 
 
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Ten Lessons Aspiring Social Businesses Should Learn from a Spider Web (Part 2)

We often consider spider webs a nuisance … something annoying, but we often dismiss the very skillful show of one of our planet’s state-of-the-art technologies.  In Part One, we reviewed five remarkable characteristics on how an aspiring Enterprise 2.0 could learn from spider silk properties.  Let’s look at five more lessons a discerning observer should be willing to consider:
 
6. Spider Silk combines both tensile strength and ductility (stretchability)
 
Scientists at Arizona State University (ASU) have decoded the secret of spider silk’s strength and what makes the fiber at least five times as tough as piano wire. “Spider silk has a unique combination of mechanical strength and elasticity that make it one of the toughest materials we know of,” said Professor Jeffery Yarger of ASU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. The tensile strength of spider silk combined with its ductile i.e. elastic properties (stretching and retracting) is well worth appreciating. For any of us, it would be hard to imagine grabbing a man-made bar of steel and stretching it to an extra forty per cent to its original length. The fact that this exceptional biological polymer (related to collagen) perfectly combines tensile strength and ductility is mind-boggling to say the least.
 
Clipboard Image
Image credit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/science
 
How do we set up company structures that are more flexible? Businesses that can “stretch” (such as a spiderweb capturing prey) when customer demand grows, but also businesses that can “retract” when its demand decreases?  How should these businesses embrace structural changes and seamlessly rebound when disruptive trends kick in?  Such theoretical questions are difficult to answer and ratify. An adaptive (stretchable and retractable) enterprise roadmap would be even more complex.
 
7.  The Spiderweb silk has stickiness properties
 
Spiders produce five main categories of silk.  One of them is the capture-spiral silk, used for the capturing lines of the web.  This sort of silk is sticky, extremely stretchy and tough, which should make us wonder how a spider can avoid entangling itself in its own web.  To this day, scientists are still not sure how it is possible for them not to get caught in their own trap.
 
What is the level of cultural stick-to-itiveness that companies have to offer? How does the Human Resource department attract, motivate and retain talent while minimizing personnel turnover?
 
8.  Spiders create exceptional spider web architectures
 
In Science Daily’s column “New Light Shed On the Mysteries of Spider Silk”, Dr. Kristie Koski and her colleagues from the University of Stanford report: “There has never been anything quite like spider silk.  Stretch it.  Bend it.  Soak it.  Dry it out.  Spider silk holds up … it can expand nearly a third greater than its original length and snap right back like new.  Ounce-for-ounce spider silk is even stronger than Kevlar, the human-made fiber used in bulletproof vests.”  Koski goes on to write: “The complete elastic response of spider silk is described by five elastic constants that define how the web reacts to any possible combination of forces –stretching, bending, soaking, pulling or twisting.” 
 
penmai.com.forums.science
Image credit: http://www.redorbit.com
 
How about our business structures? How far can we stretch them, bend them, pull them or even twist them without destroying them?  Have we ever considered the wisdom of a spider web and all its hidden attributes?  Have we ever tried to apply some of those principles to the form-functions of our schools, universities, government and businesses?
 
9.  Spider webs can capture water from the air
 
In the journal Nature, Chinese scientists have reported that silk is not only renowned for its strength, but also outstanding at collecting water from the air: “Sparing the creatures the hunt for a drink”.  We are here witnessing the awe-inspiring beauty of one of the most incredible sights God’s engineering hand has ever created.  “A tapestry of bright pearl-like water drops hanging on thin spider silk in the morning after fog” says Lei Jiang, the scientist from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.  He goes on to say: “The spider silk can be several tens of micrometers in diameter, whereas the water drops can be thousands of micrometers wide.  The silk properties change as it contacts water, which causes the bumpy silk fibers to smooth out and drives the water towards the bumpy knots in the spindle, where it gathers into large droplets.” 
 
Image.Credit_BBC.co.uk
Image credit: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science
 
Do we conceive products with compelling beauty and majesty while promoting safety, health and sustainability?  When considering some of the shoddy architecture I’ve personally seen in Paris, London, Los Angeles, Manila, Osaka, Beijing, Moscow, Barcelona and New York, I do not think they contribute to the beauty and enhancement of our environment. Do we boost technology by making it sustainable, durable and of compelling beauty such as the pearl-like water drops hanging on thin spider silk? Or does our industry prefer to plan the breakdown of specific parts for purpose of future gain and enrichment?  
 
10. Spider silk has antibacterial properties
 
In their research article: “Evidence for antimicrobial activity associated with common house spider silk”, Simon Wright and Sara Goodacre, from the school of Biology at the University of Nottingham, researched and proved the antimicrobial quality of some spider silk when confronted with micro organisms.  In Heimer, S. (1988). Wunderbare Welt der Spinnen. Urania. p.14, we read that the peasants in the southern Carpathian Mountains used to cut up tubes built by Atypus and cover wounds with the inner lining.  It reportedly facilitated healing, and even connected with the skin.  This is believed to be due to antiseptic properties of spider silk and because the silk is rich in vitamin K, which can be effective in clotting blood.
 
Do our company products and services sustain our livelihood?  Do our business protocols provide our workforce with physical and emotional assets in form of education, personal growth and vision?  Does middle management nourish the strength and potential of its workforce by facilitating information taxonomy and its distribution?  Or do most structures suffer from a command-and-control mentality going back to the enlightenment age and war room strategies?  
 
Much more could be written about spiders, but I hope that we all could gain a better appreciation for the sustainable world which is just around us.  May we strive to contribute and make our work and world a better place where more sustainable values become the drivers of our business endeavors.  In the meanwhile, we continue to deplete our earth from the very resources that sustain our physical lives.  One thing is certain:  the air we breathe, the food we eat, the sleep we need and the love we cherish, none of these components will ever be digitalized.
 
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10 Lessons Aspiring Social Businesses Should Learn from a Spider Web (Part 1)

We often consider spider webs a nuisance… something annoying, or we look at them as the irrefutable evidence that we have not done our housekeeping properly. We often forget or dismiss the masterful exhibit of one of our planet’s state-of-the-art technologies. Most likely, the majority of us have no particular knowledge about arachnology (the scientific study of spiders). To tell you the truth, I did not even know the word until I looked it up in Wikipedia: “A spider web, spider’s web, or cobweb is a device created by a spider out of proteinaceous spider silk extruded from its spinnerets. The spinnerets are the glands spiders use in order to produce silk. Some spiders are capable of manufacturing up to eight different silks during their life time.”
To conceive such an engineering exploit is a technological tour de force. Spider webs are so stunningly complex that their study has become a science. Around the world, arachnologists analyze the physical properties of spider silk. They consider its scientific uniqueness and the technological input it may bring to future man-made woven materials. We can learn a lot from spider webs and spider silk. We can draw many analogies between their properties and the properties our private and professional communities could and ought to display.
 
1. Spider silk is one of the toughest bio-materials yet known
 
The tensile strength of spider silk is greater than the same weight of steel. Spider silk is five times stronger than steel and three times tougher than Kevlar. Spider silk starts as a liquid protein, which is too small to see without magnification, then hardens to a solid when exposed to air. Spider silk can be stretched significantly (one fourth of its length) before it breaks. It can withstand temperatures from -40°C to 220°C.
How resistant and resilient can our organizations be? How are our business communities confronting adversity and bouncing back from defeat? How expandable and stretchable are our enterprises, businesses and societies? How far can they “spread” and “stretch” before they finally break or collapse?
 
Spiderweb
 
2. The spider web has the ability to adapt to different levels of stressOne of the remarkable keys to the stability of the spider web is the fact that “a spider web design, and the unique properties of its silk, allows just a single thread to break so the rest of the web remains unharmed.”  Can we say the same about our education systems, our management models and our manufacturing routines?  Someday, could a giant corporation like Apple tumble or “break”?  Could it be the reason that the unpredictable and creative genius of a Steve Jobs is not around anymore?  Could this cause a threat to Apple’s long-haul business strategy?  In “Apple Might Have a Bad 2013: 10 Signs of Trouble Ahead,” eWeek columnist Don Reisinger wrote:  “Apple could be in for trouble, as there are signs that iPhone demand is waning and its mobile market share is starting to slide.” If a corporation is threatened, will it adjust and adapt the same way a spider web can?
 
3. The silk’s molecular structure allows it to stretch
 
When a filament is pulled, the silk’s unique molecular structure unfurls as stress increases, leading to a stretching effect… The durability of the web is not just controlled by how strong silk is, but also how its mechanical properties change as you stretch it” says Dr. Buehler.  Darwin’s bark spider can weave a huge web over flowing rivers, stretching from one bank of the river to the other.  In order to stretch from bank to bank the Darwin spider must weave anchoring lines of up to 25m!  They weave such large tapestries by using one of the toughest, most energy-absorbing silks ever discovered, tougher than any other known biological and most man-made materials.  How tough and resistant do we train our workforce to be?  What sort of company culture and vision do we impart to them?  How far do we allow our workforce to stretch their minds and broaden their outlook?  How do we build bridges between departments and company silos?  How can we overcome isolated competitiveness for the benefit of community success?  When purchasing deliberately keeps a low inventory to earn CFO strides, production is postponed, client delivery is late, client production lines stops.  Does this sound familiar?  Unfortunately, it sure does to me.
 
Darwin_Spiderweb
 
4. The breaking of a single spider silk thread never threatens the entire web structureResearching on the spider web functionality, Dr. Buehler, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology goes on to say: “If a building, a car or an airplane is exposed to large mechanical stress, it typically breaks as a whole and the entire structure becomes dysfunctional.” He continues: “Each individual thread of silk could be ‘sacrificed’ to maintain the overall structure.  How far can our communities stretch before they break?  How much stress can they take?  Why did Kodak file for bankruptcy in January 2012?  Didn’t the management foresee the technological trends and the reality that sooner or later cameras would be digitalized?
 
5. Spider silk becomes spider food
 
Did you know that spiders can nourish themselves from the silk they produce? Spiders produce a large quantity of silk, roughly 59.43 meters (65 yards) a day or 70.81 km (40.44 miles) in their entire lifetime.   We could compare spider silk’s double functionality (web weaving and food) to bamboo which is commonly used for scaffolding in Asia but also consumed as a delicious plant.  Will we ever see the day when a man-made product will be used both as building material and food?  When will shareholders understand that greed destroys our planet?  It’s time to replace polluting manufacturing plants with clean sites and an environmentally biodegradable production output.  How much longer can we pollute, destroy and loot the very planet that sustains us?  Companies, entrepreneurs and leaders should bear in mind that short term greed will soon destroy our children’s right to live abundantly!  One thing is certain:  the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink… none of it will ever be digitalized!

In part two, we will look at five more spider silk properties and the physical and spiritual lessons they discretely continue to teach us, should we want to observe and learn.    

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Five Additional Ways Social Business Can Unleash Outrageous and Innovative Power (2/4)

A few days ago, I started a series on innovative power — one of the fruits of Enterprise 2.0 or Social Business. How do we get creative, divergent and provocative? How do we forsake our day-to-day fire extinguishing duties (and we all have them) and force ourselves to get physically out of our office buildings, companies, towns, states or countries? Too many companies are routinely stuck in extinguishing the daily fires of their business responsibilities such as:

– Customer claims
– Quality issues
– Product development
– Reporting and having to come up with “news” for the Corporate Office
– Sales & Sales Prospecting

Any one of us could easily yawn while reading those bullet points. But beware, so do our co-workers and employees, if these represent the bulk of their daily to-do-lists!   I absolutely admire the innovative Google spirit of letting employees mix up their worksheet by setting their own “20-Percent Time.”  Customer Experience (CX) can only be achieved if companies first learn to establish Employee Experience (EX), which has long been the case at Google.  Google receives more than two million CV’s every year; the irrefutable evidence that Employee Experience has long been one of the ways Google retains attractive, creative and innovative talents.

Without any further ado here are five more points on how to foster creativity:

1.  Schedule, sponsor and organize FUN or CRAZINESS within your business premises.

“When fun is a regular part of work, employees get to know each other as real people,” Paul Spiegelman, CEO of Beryl Companies, told Inc.  To that end, Spiegelman created a ‘Department of Great People and Fun’ and instituted ‘Pajama’ day and ‘Dress like the 70s’ day. “While these ideas are not practical for every work environment, the key is to do something fun, no matter how small, on a regular basis,”  The key here is to break  company silos and barriers!  A bit like in Germany, when neighbors, who traditionally rarely talk to each other suddenly get together for a pint of beer or more during the famous Cologne Carnival Festivities and this … until the wee hours of the night!  Eric Ryan, founder of Method, a soap and cleaning products company in San Francisco, thinks adding some “weirdness” to your corporate culture inspires employees to accomplish a lot. In the past, Ryan hasn’t hesitated to dress up as a chipmunk, blast Eye of the Tiger in the elevator, or host flash mob dance parties at his offices. “It reminds everybody that, ‘Yeah, I’m working somewhere really special’.”

2. Create “nap rooms” and grant your employees some rest.

I was once asked during an interview how would I proceed after an intercontinental flight, if I would directly come back to my office and work?  My answer was: “I’d rather sleep in a bed than in my office: it is much more comfortable and at least I am getting something done properly”!  Google is again a trendsetter when it comes to employee dedication and engagement making sure that their workers can “power nap” whenever they feel like an urgent need to close their eyes: and we all know that power nap can help relieving stress and thus unleash creative power.  “Zephrin Lasker, CEO of a Pontiflex, a 60-person mobile app ad shop in Brooklyn, converted a room of computer servers into a napping retreat. ‘I’m a huge believer in napping,’ Lasker tells Inc.com. ‘It helps people recharge, and personally, it helps me think more creatively’.”

3. Openly encourage and promote diversity rather than conformity.

At Zappos not only is weirdness encouraged, but it is also integral part of its company core values: “Create Fun And A Little Weirdness”.   At first, employees will be careful and suspicious particularly if a traditional hierarchical structure suddenly endeavors to humanize its practices, but management and leaders have to first break the ice and lead the way!  Culture is the fundamental catalyst that will open the doors to employee reciprocity.   Corporate Culture will most likely generate employee engagement and employee initiative, which in turn will trigger creativity and innovation.   Remember to be a little crazy and weird “À La Zappos” so to say!  It will automatically break down some communication barriers, encourage creative thinking, unleash motivation and most probably reduce employee turnover.

4. Find out what your employees are passionate about.

On one of his websites, trainer and guru Ken Blanchard suggests twelve different areas for employee work passion. Organization factors such as collaboration, performance expectations, growth, procedural justice (fairness) and distributive justice (rewards) are fundamental values to a Social Business Culture if future employee passion is being hoped for.  Does your company truly know what your workforce is passionate about?  Have you ever asked them? Genuinely found out?  Maybe it is time for HR to revisit and reconsider, don’t you think?  Let’s make no mistake about it, passionate employees will be much more inclined to bear additional work hours than a disengaged or passive crowd of workers.

5. Create writable walls and workforce sharing spaces  

Food and drinks always bring people together.  Like any local bar, it is a place for venting, sharing or listening while drinking a pint of your favorite Weiss Beer or Lager!  How about coming up with a company bar where workers could get together after work?  Would not it be great to enjoy a drink, casually chat while exchanging ideas with CXOs?

“Says tvsdesign’s Don Ricker, ‘Our most successful office designs feature writable walls in large open spaces where multiple people from diverse teams gather to exchange ideas and feedback. This fosters genuine collaboration along with a sense of play and fun, which in turn, opens the floodgates of creativity while serving as a potent morale booster.’”

How are you fostering company creativity and employee divergent thinking?  How are you systematically destroying the silos of traditional communication and replacing them with a flat, open cultu.re?  Looking forward to your comments.

2 Final Reasons Why Human Resources Must Become the Control Center for any Social Business Enterprise 2.0 Transformation (Part 3)

As we already covered in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, management, at the highest level, needs to seriously review the role and responsibilities of Human Resources.  Both shareholders and company leaders must demand HR to thoroughly scrutinize personnel policies built on “19th century learning styles, coupled by 20th century leadership models fused with 21st century technology” – Dan Pontefract, and to thoroughly revolutionize the entire organizational approach of their company.  This has to be done if a company is to digitally survive, humanly thrive and finally bring the coveted ROI (return on investment).  Sir Ken Robinson’s insightful presentation: “Changing Education Paradigms” can also apply to the   “baby-boomer” HR leaders who received an education designed, conceived and structured for an intellectual culture of “enlightenment”.  Today HR still operates in a societal system, born during the industrial revolution, which is modeled on the capitalistic foundation of gain only, regardless of how people are treated to acquire it.  Think of the term GDP as irrefutable evidence!

1. HR to foster Divergent Thinking in order to promote creativity

Divergent thinking is a thought process or method used to generate creative ideas by exploring a variety of possible solutions.  Sir Ken Robinson defines divergent thinking as: “The process of having original ideas that have value… divergent thinking is not a synonym but an essential capacity for creativity.”  It gives a person the ability to search out different answers when faced with a challenging assignment. Lateral or divergent thinking requires an “out-of-the-box” sort of reasoning which is not immediately obvious.  It involves ideas that are not obtainable by using traditional step-by-step logic. For example: an average person will find 10 ways to use a paper clip but a top “divergent thinker” will come up with 200 or more!

Now let’s apply this divergent thinking approach to our 21st century business model and start identifying company “divergent thinkers”.  Give them the space and freedom they require, and watch them come up with different ways, for example, on how to solve the boredom of repetitive tasks.  Make the challenge accessible via the Enterprise Social Network (ESN) and not only involve employees, but also partners and clients.  How about posting all suggestions and recommendations on a visible company Wikipage?  Don’t all companies wish they had more employees thriving with engagement and creativity?  Has your HR department ever taken the time to find out from its employees what would be the best environment for them to work in?  Under what working conditions would they feel their creative juice flow again?

Our society is plagued with the carryover of the industrial revolution way of manufacturing, thinking and educating, and it is easily to be found around us.  Let us look at a couple of examples:
– The traditional office hours are still from 9am to 5pm to this very day.
– Our schools have remained “educational manufacturing plants”, whereby knowledge and education have been standardized. Children of a “same manufacturing date” i.e. birth-year are “assembled” together and all taught the same thing regardless of their proclivities, talents, interests but also dislikes and even hatred at times!
 
Patagonia is based in Ventura California and employs roughly 1,500 people.  It is known for its flexi-time policies and also its “let my people go surfing” policy! During any work day employees are encouraged to leave their duties and get their creative juice flowing!  This policy must be good for CEO Yvon Chouinard since his company finished 2011 with a US$ 400 million turnover compared to US$ 333 million the previous year!

2. HR to improve customer service and loyalty by directly impacting employee engagement

Many companies do not have the position of a Chief Cultural Officer. Those businesses have not taken the time to formalize their company culture. They indirectly leave it up to their workforce to improvise, regardless of the positive or negative consequences this might have on their business.

A lecturer in an education program on leadership once told the following joke: “A CEO was asked how many people work in his company: ‘About half of them,’ he replied”.  This, for so many enterprises, is unfortunately very close to reality.  All businesses want to achieve the best possible operative results but often forget the financial loss encountered due to lack of employee engagement.  Watch out HR!  A company meticulously empowering its employees is automatically investing in its brand and consequently reaping the rewards of superior customer service.  Remember Zappos? 70-80% of their turnover is repeat business because of the outstanding service all Zaponians are proudly providing!

The attitude of too many employees shows a high level of disengagement caused by submission to avoid “rocking the boat”, and also by a lack of trust towards company leadership.  Deference to the authority of a recognized superior doesn’t really foster creativity does it? A client-centric organization will only be created if a company stops doing BAU (Business As Usual) and starts measuring first “loyalty, delight and experience at the employee level” as Frank Palermo states in his CMS WIRE article: “Improve Employee Engagement to Maintain Loyal Customers”.

How could there ever be customer experience (CX) if employees feel partially or completely disconnected from their workplace? A fundamental reason why HR should want its workforce to invest in discretionary effort on the job is the fact that employee engagement will trigger improved customer service, which will consequently promote customer loyalty and drastically prop up bottom line profit.

How is your HR department promoting divergent thinking and creativity? Is HR considering gamification for repetitive tasks? Looking forward to your comments and suggestions.

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Related posts to Social Business i.e. Enterprise 2.0:

-4 Reasons Why Human Resources Must Become the Control Center to any Social Business Enterprise 2.0 Transformation (Part 1)
-4 More Reasons Why Human Resources Must Become the Control Center to any Social Business Enterprise 2.0 Transformation (Part 2)
3 Ways to Promote Your Employee Engagement and Increase Your Social Business Enterprise 2.0 Productivity
4 More Ways for Leaders to Promote Personnel Engagement in Social Business Enterprise 2.0
Why Are People, Processes and Platforms the Three Fundamental P’s of Any Social Business Enterprise 2.0 transformation?
Why Company Culture is The Foundation to Any Social Business Enterperise 2.0
Understanding the 4 Fundamentals of a Social Business Enterprise 2.0

4 More Reasons Why Human Resources Must Become the Control Center for any Social Business Enterprise 2.0 Transformation (Part2)

In the previous article, we discussed 4 reasons why HR needs to abandon its traditional administrative role and become the company cultural citadel and flagship. We could compare HR to the helm of an “Enterprise Culture” ship, with its crew steering the company towards its “cultural destination” and in this way, having much more leverage than a mere rule enforcer. In order to become the motivational driving force of the business overall, HR must learn to meld together different mentalities, cultural tribes and department units. HR must also foster the collective mission of an employee-centric company’s vision and values, i.e. culture. But what are some of the technological, digital and disruptive challenges our traditional personnel management is faced with when bringing the Millennial Generation (Generation Y) onto the company’s payroll?

1. HR must understand and accept the rich & ubiquitous nature of Digital Communication

Broadband connectivity has changed the way we work and communicate. Tablets, phablets and smartphones are found and used everywhere, and recent statistics estimate there are already 2.5 billion mobile social accounts worldwide! As if this deluge of portably-connected devices (also known as “Bring Your Own Device”) was not enough, our traditional 20th century “Dr. Prof. Expert” has transformed himself into a powerful, multi-faceted big-data information giant. This new 21st century digital expert has granted himself a previously unknown crown of knowledge: the hyperlink. This invisible digital inline link can display remote content without displaying the content; it is to be found in many e-articles and has become the new punctuation sign you and I have to contend with!

The hyperlink is the hidden command which has literally transformed our traditional book (with its attached footnotes) into a never-ending reading ordeal! Watch out, while e-reading, that you do not get “hyperlinked-away” and end up wondering where your reading actually started! This new punctuation sign has now given us the technological agility to research any topic at scale. It is the reason why (after roughly two hundred fifty years) Encyclopædia Britannica went out of print, and 300 years later Internet overtook newspapers ad revenues.  How will HR undertake the transformation of this well known archaic enterprise legacy and adapt it to our “hyper-linked”, 21st century digital and highly-connected workplace or wirearchy without losing the necessary line of command?

2. HR TO BECOME THE TRANSFORMATIONAL DIGITAL ZEITGEIST OF LAST CENTURY’S HIERARCHICAL BUSINESS LEGACY

Complete removal of the hierarchical legacy from a company’s organigram seems highly impossible. Every enterprise needs a boss, a visionary, a strategist who guides the mission, inspires the ranks and carries the overall corporate social responsibility vis-à-vis the owner or the company shareholders. But here are examples of quite a different approach. IIya Pozin, writing about his company Ciplex, says: “There is no such thing as ‘management’. There are no departments. Those fancy job titles, like VP, executive, and manager are gone”.  What is worth noticing here is Illy Pozin’s completely different view on company hierarchy.  He continues: “I recently inverted our organizational chart.  Our clients are now positioned up at the top, while our employees make up teams stationed in the middle, and our higher-ups are no longer higher-ups — they are now known as ‘team support’ and they reside at the bottom of the chart.”! IIya Pozin genuinely promotes team culture.  He goes on to write: “You need self-motivated, self-sustaining teams, instead of individual employees below your clients. This fosters a culture in which teams are motivated to succeed together, rather than individuals. It creates a shared sense of responsibility throughout the company. At Ciplex, we create team goals to measure and improve upon every two weeks. This way, everyone becomes a valuable asset.”

Claire Suddath, reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek, wrote an enlightening article about the company Valve Software.  In “Why There Are No Bosses at Valve” (Valve Software company handbook), co-founder Gabe Newell states: “Of all the people at this company who aren’t your boss, Gabe is the MOST not your boss, if you get what were saying,” the handbook says.  Claire Suddath goes on to write:  “Every Valve employee has hiring capabilities, as well as the power to green-light an idea.  It’s basically the Montessori version of running a company. Somehow this results in completed projects and top-notch video games.”

3. HR TO HIRE TALENT MATCHING COMPANY CULTURE, & SECURE PERSONNEL EXPANSION

HR should hire first for passion and second for skills! What would be the outcome if a multi-talented hiree happened to “row in the opposite direction” of the company culture?  Some of my readers may think that I am on a cultural bandwagon or crusade, but please bear with me, and let’s look at a cultural misfit example we’ve all read and heard about: The Hewlett-Packard/ Compaq merger case:

In 2001 the Hewlett-Packard computer giant acquired Compaq for US$ 24 billion — the largest IT deal ever made!  Combining workforces and operations in more than 150 countries (with roughly 150,000 employees) must have been a daunting task to undertake, but particularly so for HR. Restructuring both businesses was an intimidating challenge that turned out to be a disastrous cultural match. HP originated mostly from an engineering background, while Compaq from a “door-to-door” sales mentality.  This merger was considered a failure and HP was forced to make dramatic leadership and cultural changes to make things work. Could it be that the results of the consequences of that merger are still evident even to this day?   CEO Meg Whitman recently pointed to a lack of clarity around the company’s strategy as well as heavy executive turnover.  Who knows?

HR now has a golden opportunity to start molding and shaping Generation Y hirees (soon to replace baby boomers), to bestow upon them crystal clear cultural beliefs and values, impart the necessary ethics, and to finally turn them into real company spokespeople and brand evangelists.  And even more so, HR has the responsibility to set up the right working environment and transform the attitudes of the workforce into a highly motivated group of engaged employees. It is crucial that co-workers possess the inner satisfaction of having a clear mission, of serving a purpose and delivering outstanding products or services. When HR Daily Advisor SPHR, MBA Kojo Amissah was asked to define HR he gave this most unusual and amazing reply:  “HR is about the business to the extent to which you can utilize people to obtain business goals.”  Some of the structural challenges HR is facing nowadays in modern companies could be perfectly summed up by Dan Pontefract: “Our organizations are built on 19th century learning styles, coupled by 20th century leadership models fused with 21st century technology.”

4. HR TO BECOME THE PROMOTIONAL ENGINE OF SUSTAINABLE EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT

A recent Towers Watson Global 2012 Workforce Study reveals how the views of employees directly shape their engagement in their work, commitment to their employers, and ultimately their behavior and performance on the job. The study reflects the attitudes and concerns of workers around the world. It also points out that the traditional definition for engagement is shifting and reshaping itself into a 21st century “dernier cri” term of “sustainable engagement”. As we read above, companies are running 21st century businesses in 20th century workplaces. The resulting lack of employee engagement is staggering to say the least:
– 35% employees are highly engaged
– 22% employees are unsupportive
– 17% employees are detached
– 26% employees are disengaged
 
Don’t you think it is time for companies to start attracting, motivating and retaining the right cadre of employees     – those who will best benefit the corporate business identity? What will be the mid and long-term consequences of HR developing a “sustainable engagement” environment for its workers? The Tower Watson study quantifies the direct relationship between employee output, engagement and motivation on the job, and the level of operating margin an enterprise is able to record. It also shows that the higher the level of engagement, the higher the average operating profit will be: 
– Companies with low engagement scores have an average operating margin of 10%
– Companies with high traditional engagement an average margin of 14%
– Companies with the highest level of “sustainable engagement” an average of 27%
 
What is the line of attack your company is applying in order to reverse those trends? How is your HR department raising the employee level of engagement?
 
Follow Bruno Gebarski on Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrunoGebarski@brunogebarski or on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brunogebarski
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-4 Reasons Why Human Resources Must Become the Control Center to any Social Business Enterprise 2.0 Transformation (Part 1)
3 Ways to Promote Your Employee Engagement and Increase Your Social Business Enterprise 2.0 Productivity
4 More Ways for Leaders to Promote Personnel Engagement in Social Business Enterprise 2.0
Why Are People, Processes and Platforms the Three Fundamental P’s of Any Social Business Enterprise 2.0 transformation?
Why Company Culture is The Foundation to Any Social Business Enterperise 2.0
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4 Reasons Why Human Resources Must Become the Control Center for any Social Business Enterprise 2.0 Transformation (Part 1)

HR has traditionally been a business department silo, and I have to admit that I still somewhat associate these folks with hiring, firing and conflict management – not the team I would expect to inspire in me the feelings of exuberance and enthusiasm about company cultural changes to come. Also, not where I would personally seek contact when in need of emotional guidance or motivational leadership! Here is the transformation HR needs to go through:

1. HR to abandon its traditional administrative role and become the company’s cultural citadel and spokesman

HR’s role needs to be transformed by moving from a territorial administrative role, to becoming the strategic people-headquarters of an organization; the human resources catalyst and employee-propeller a company requires if a people-centric company culture is ever to be developed. Nowadays, the HR team needs to be highly motivated, maneuvering adroitly between departments while building bridges, removing silos and evangelizing the mission, vision and values of a 21st century social business Enterprise 2.0. It is crucial for enterprises not only to offer newer employees the connectivity they require, but to transform mentalities and relentlessly foster cooperation between business units. In our hyper-connected world it is vital for HR to revitalize its responsibilities and become cooperator, coordinator, collaborator, and thus a powerful company spokesman and communicator.

2. HR to proactively destroy company silos

One of the most difficult tasks for a company to address is the imperative need for silo-dismantling and final eradication.  A sure sign that identifies a silo is resistance to change. Silos isolate, destroy productivity, stifle initiative, decrease motivation and diminish enthusiasm overall, thus affecting worker engagement as a whole. The classic example is that between sales and production. Sales does not sell what production manufactures, and production does not manufacture what sales needs to sell! Silos are extremely detrimental to the success of an enterprise because a silo does what’s best for itself, instead of what is actually best for the company.

3. HR to clearly spell out company mission, vision and shared values

One of the best examples that I have ever seen of a display of company culture, was from Tim Cook, Steve Jobs’ successor, when he was asked how Apple would function without Jobs! It was a spur-of-the-moment question about a difficult act to follow. Tim Cook gave this eloquent, passionate and typically powerful Apple reply:

“We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing. We are constantly focusing on innovating. We believe in the simple not the complex. We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products that we make, and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution. We believe in saying no to thousands of projects, so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us. We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot. And frankly, we don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change. And I think regardless of who is in what job those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well.” — Tim Cook January 2009

4. HR to become the Enterprise Social Networks (ESN) driving force

Broadband connectivity is the driving technological force mainly responsible for the consumerization of IT and all the portable devices attached to it. The bandwidth developments have been dramatic and the results are significant.

For example, being trilingual it is inconceivable for me nowadays to rely upon a traditional dictionary when looking up a word for translation! This, now archaic, way of translating has been replaced by online Editorial Dictionaries such as “Linguee”, which provide contextual translations with full sentences and respective hyperlinks for further study or inquiry if needed. How about researching a particular topic and coming across additional information not relevant at that moment, but of considerable value? Thanks to cloud tools, such as Diigo or Evernote, it is easier than ever to click and save for future reference. These tools help to find information faster and easier, and thereby increase productivity.

Knowledge of such tools, are nuggets of gold HR should encourage employees to share with one another, e.g. via intranet. It is well worth reflecting upon the fact that the ESN (Enterprise Social Network) industry will have an estimated worth of €5.2 billion (US$6.4) by 2017. Needless to say, the way we are communicating within companies is shifting. Collaborating tools are becoming necessary if companies wish to survive the huge data onslaught we are experiencing in the 21st century

How is HR experiencing the changes in your enterprise? What are some of the challenges you are faced with, and how is your business adapting?

Follow Bruno Gebarski on Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrunoGebarski@brunogebarski or on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brunogebarski

Related posts to Social Business i.e. Enterprise 2.0:
3 Ways to Promote Your Employee Engagement and Increase Your Social Business Enterprise 2.0 Productivity
4 More Ways for Leaders to Promote Personnel Engagement in Social Business Enterprise 2.0
Why Are People, Processes and Platforms the Three Fundamental P’s of Any Social Business Enterprise 2.0 transformation?
Why Company Culture is The Foundation to Any Social Business Enterperise 2.0
Understanding the 4 Fundamentals of a Social Business Enterprise 2.0