Category Archives: Teambuilding

Five Crowd-Sourcing Lessons Learned from a Retail Business Moving its Shop Location

Manuka Wholefoods is a remarkable little shop owned by a family of New Zealanders living in Chichester (West Sussex) in the southern part of the United Kingdom.  Manuka Wholefoods retails a full array of organic products such as grocery, dairy products, fruit and veggies, skin and body care, nutritional supplements and organic wines.
 
For personal reasons, the Manuka Wholefoods business owners had to travel right before relocating their shop within Chichester.  Beyond the traditional emails sent to their customer database, the on-site working crew, led by highly capable and motivated Shop Manager Claire Burgess, decided to give customers a little map-flyer helping them to visualize the new location.
 
1. First, start the crowd-sourcing project within your own team
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Creating a readable map everybody could understand turned out to be a challenge. Claire could have printed out the typical Google map, had it photocopied and “voila, here you go customers, take it or leave it!  But insightful Claire Burgess wanted to go a step further. She decided that not only should customers understand and be able to read her map, but more importantly customers should be able to visualize the new shop location.  In order to create the best possible drawing, Claire first sought advice from her own team.  By doing so, she enthusiastically included them in the project while gaining their motivation and support.  
 
2. Crowd-source with own employees for personnel engagement and motivation
 
The three Manuka Wholefoods team members had different views and expectations on what the map should look like.  After briefly conferring with each other, they all decided to try out a Google version.  At that time, the Google map seemed the logical choice since the team could perfectly understand the directions from the old location to the new. 
 
3. Test your idea and ask for genuine feedback from your crowd
 
Claire Burgess went one step further.  She started showing the map to her customers, and asked them if they could visualize and understand where the shop was going?  Although 80% of Manuka Wholefoods’ customer base is from Chichester, most of the customers to whom the map was shown had genuine difficulties reading it and understanding where the shop was moving to.  Claire’s team realized that many of their customers did not know the street names or names of the city landmarks.  The team had to pause and accept the fact that the map they created and perceived as logical and easy to follow, came across to the majority of their customers as confusing.  The quintessential lesson they learned was the fact that they did not find out until they genuinely started to ask.
 
4. You miss the point if your business gets it, but your “crowd” or customers don’t
 
Manuka Wholefoods’ sales team started asking customers for suggestions.  It became clearer that a readable map would have to be made from scratch.  Unneeded street names were removed.  Thanks to the help of many customers, the map became a crowd-manufactured effort featuring four arrows originating from the former shop and ending at the new location.  The customers preferred a map overview with directions along the main roads rather than the most direct route along unfamiliar streets. Furthermore, customers then requested that it would help if pictures of known landmarks and shops could be added to the map to create a complete visual of the new location.
 
ManukaWholefoods is moving-medium 
5. Assume nothing and get your crowd’s attention
 
Although posters announcing the move were strategically placed, these seemed to be of little use unless pointed out to customers. In this day and age, we are all busy, preoccupied and in a rush.  We see but do not read; we hear but do not listen! That’s
why folks, with any message you want to communicate, you’ve got to get people’s attention.  We all are creatures of habit. We often overestimate the relevance of a message by genuinely assuming that people are interested. 
 
Once the map had been finalized, 750 copies were personally given out by Claire Burgess and her team.  Furthermore Manuka Wholefoods will have to distribute additional flyers to encourage its customers to create new shopping habits. How many customers will forget and realize that the location has changed when suddenly faced with the old empty shop?  Over the next three to six months, Manuka Wholefoods will have to remind, coach and reward customers for having adjusted to a major change:  shopping at its new location.
 
What is your crowd-sourcing experience as a business owner?  What are some of the lessons you’ve had the chance to learn? I am looking forward to your comments and suggestions:  Until next time, I wish you all a successful week. 

 

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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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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.

Five Ways Social Business Can Unleash Outrageous, Divergent and Innovative Power (1/4)

 
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?  How about forsaking our limited human thinking and consider “bigger” things?  How about thinking out of our continent or our planet earth placed in the cul-de-sac of the Milky Way, one of the universe’s billions or trillions of galaxies?  I often ask myself:  Why does the speed of light travel only 300,000 km per hour?  Why not faster?
 
Stop and meditate on the fact that some studies suggest our universe could have more than 500 billion galaxies, each having 200-300 billion or trillion stars!  How does this equate to our narrow, limited, shallow view of our day-to-day responsibilities?  Don’t you think that the most powerful human computer ever manufactured, pales into insignificance compared to the creation of such a mind boggling space spectacle?  Astronomers in Australia say there are 10 times more stars in the visible universe than all the grains of sand on the world’s beaches and deserts!  Australian astronomers used some of the world’s most powerful instruments to suggest those figures, and reckon that the figures presented to the International Astronomical Union conference in Sydney, is the kind that really can be called astronomical: 70 sextillions, or seven followed by 22 zeroes!
 
Let’s redirect ourselves towards planet earth and make a final stop at the magnificent Sombrero Galaxy, part of the Virgo Cluster of Galaxies.  The Sombrero Galaxy, also known as M104, spans about 50,000 light years across and lies 28 million light years away.  M104 can be seen with a small telescope in the direction of the constellation Virgo.
 
Sombrero Galaxy
The Sombrero Galaxy in Infrared  Credit: R. Kennicutt (Steward Obs.et al.SSCJPLCaltechNASA
 
I hope by now we should all feel energized with an extra portion of motivation, wanting to get out of our building, forget our routines and consider new divergent and creative ways of thinking.
 
How could we do this? 
 
1. Leave your working premises and environment for an unknown destination or activity.
 
Inside-the-building thinking is the hallmark of establishments whose structures inhibit innovation.  Forget your office, your secretary, your assistants, your products and your services!  Ignore your self-centered approach and forget your day-to-day business responsibilities for 48 hours!  Get your creative juices flowing!  Go bungee jumping, if you wish, or scuba diving.  Go fishing but please turn off your smartphones, iPads, phablets or whatever electronic devices you carry with you all the time. Breathe, think, meditate and come to a full stop!
 

2. Bring along outspoken and extroverted co-workers who you mostly disagree with, or might not feel comfortable with.

Overcome your pride, put your ego away and get out of your comfort zone.  Ignore the uneasiness of being with square pegs and strive to make the first step as a leader to break the ice and reach out! Remember, you are the cultural flagship of your enterprise.

3. Do not put yourself under pressure by forcing yourself and your team to expect anything other than letting your thinking wander around and start the creative process.

Putting yourself and your group under the pressure of “delivering” will more than likely destroy any potential creativity you or your group might have!  Remember, creativity kicks in when least expected… walking around, resting, sipping on your favorite coffee specialty, or even day-dreaming.

4. Be humble, personal, vulnerable and real with your  people.

Wirearchy ought to replace antiquated hierarchy and thus establish horizontal points of connection instead of the old vertical leadership lines of authority, which is now completely outdated!  Invite your team to a morning of horse riding lessons and then surprise them with an afternoon of an inter-team polo match.  You will end up laughing your head off as likely most of them may not have ever been on a horse before!  A guaranteed story which will be talked about for days, weeks and years to come.

20121101_John.Husband_From.Hierarchy.2.Wirearchy

5. Promote employee trust by opening the doors to communication and disagreement.

Allow people to vent and complain! Allow trivia, irrelevant things, silly and out-of-reach ideas! The more divergent those are, the more your company will benefit from the event; maybe not right away, but eventually an open co-worker culture will gamify work without expensive gamification software acquisition!  Give employees “the right to bitch” as ING Direct CEO did in Canada!

What is your take on outrageous communication? Will you consider a new format for your next meeting or get together? Looking forward to your comments and suggestions.

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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
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)
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 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

4 More Ways for Leaders to Promote Personnel Engagement in Social Business Enterprise 2.0

Employee attitude is an intrinsic and direct human reaction resulting from the work environment any management establishes in its enterprise.  Attitude (good or bad) and its attached emotions significantly shape the “work ethic” barometer any employee will display before, during or after work hours.  It is the hidden and powerful emotional drive, or lack thereof, which determines the level of “engagement” a co-worker will display.  Employee engagement will never be an action verb with an expected code of co-worker behavior automatically triggered by company compensation and perks.

Enterprises in possession of well defined mission, vision and values are in a much better position to transport their philosophy and credo to employees, suppliers, partners and customers alike. Company culture (mission + vision + values) is the fundamental prerequisite if a workforce is to positively engage with both customers and prospects.  A company workforce cannot and will not confidently connect with its customers if an enterprise has failed to establish first a clear code of ethics, business principles and policies.

1. Workforce should fulfill job requirements with limited hierarchical where and when

I remember a € 80 million (US$100 M) manufacturing company led by a Managing Director who micro-managed.  Every morning he would pick up the mail from the local post office himself, open up every single piece of correspondence and distribute it to the appropriate company employees. His reasons? “I want to know what is happening”, he once told me! We are living in the broadband communication era where consumers decide the way they wish to communicate with their brand. Thanks to hyper-connected mobile devices we are now en route to a people-centric, convenience marketing superhighway, where consumers exclusively select when, where and what sort of information they wish to obtain.  Cell phone subscriptions have overtaken landlines. People in the UK are now more likely to text than to make a phone call according to a recent research from Ofcom.  “In the past, cooperation was a kind of dream, an ideal. Today it is a requirement for survival” says Nicholas Roberts.

A European company, I was once associated with, gave its employees only 15 minutes of “flexi-time” for arriving at work in the morning, all the while knowing that some would actually be more productive after sleeping an extra hour or two than arriving on time and lingering around the coffee machine and shooting the breeze. Employees should be compensated for results rather than the numbers of hours they have worked. Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) could easily be promoted thanks to mobile technology Studies made by ROWE with renowned clients such as GAP and BEST BUY have shown  significant savings and increased productivity were registered. BEST BUY applied the following formula:  “Retention + Intrinsic Motivation + Productivity = Increased Capacity” which meant a saving of $2.2 million for their team over the course of two years, an average of 41% increase in productivity on ROWE teams.

2. Management should take control of work, and not of its employees

Looking for an alternative to work? Organize a meeting! Wasted time in meetings costs Business £26 billion (US$ 41.6 B) per annum reported Techradar some months ago. Marcus Austin went on to say: “The average employee wastes two hours and 39 minutes in meetings every week… this would equate to 13 million more productive hours per week and an increase in gross domestic product (GDP) of approximately 1.7 percent…” Wouldn’t it be better to let these employees decide for themselves if their participation in a meeting is mandatory or not? It is now the time for company leaders to start learning to trust their employees and respect their right to exercise sound judgment. Managers also need to delegate. This should be the first step toward transcending the average employee output into something more significant. Extrinsic motivation needs to make room for the intrinsic if companies earnestly want to crowd-source more of their own talent and increase employee engagement.  Around 50% of Google’s products and innovations were found during the 20% period of time where employees are encouraged to work on personal Google projects and not on their core responsibilities. It is evident that a hierarchical boss cannot control how everything is being done so would it not be better if management could find ways and tools for their teams to get the job done themselves?

3.  Employees look beyond payment to non-monetary factors such as advancement and recognition

What are the values of intangible company assets; the ones that cannot be quantified… the ones that are dormant in remote parts of a company because of disuse… the raw diamonds waiting to be polished in order to shine?  In her article “A Zappos Lesson in Customer Service Metrics”, Ashley Furness relates her conversation with Joseph Michelli the author of The Zappos Experience: 5 Principles to Inspire, Engage, and WOW:

“Take a look at your performance metrics. Is time-to-resolution an important indicator? What about call time? While popular, these KPIs are indicative of a very un-Zappos experience. They don’t ‘drive service into your culture,’ as the author of The Zappos Experience, Joseph Michelli, explained to me. Zappos invests in the call center not as cost, but the opportunity to market. Their whole strategy is to create loyalty through ‘wow’ moments and emotional connections.”

4. Leaders should be able to step back and promote others

Put your ego away because it could be one of your biggest obstacles towards team effectiveness! Pride destroys communication, builds silos, isolates and pushes people away! In an employee-centric led environment, it is imperative not to give pride, arrogance, ego and selfish immaturity any room for business. Get rid of it, and get rid of the workers/people who are rowing in the opposite direction, regardless of how high in the hierarchy they are positioned, or how skillful they are. Are you placing self-interest ahead of your enterprise’s interests? Are you concerned about piling up more for yourself while neglecting customers, employees and maybe even board members?  Place the interests of your immediate co-workers and middle management before your own; trust your workforce and give them space to grow. Treasure confrontation, hire employees first for their passion and then for their skills, regardless of the fact that you might not feel personally attracted to them.  Are they a cultural enrichment to your company, department or team?  Would your company consider an international hiree if your most valuable customer is international? Does your team fully understand how different the international community is? Do you give them the chance to learn and grow?

What are you doing to inspire your workforce?  What initiatives are you sponsoring in order to foster creativity and leadership? What are the difficulties you are confronted with?

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
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
Humility, a Core Ingredient For Moving From Hierachy to Social Business Enterprise 2.0 Leadership (Part 1)
Humility, a Core Ingredient For Moving From Hierachy to Social Business Enterprise 2.0 Leadership (Part 2)