Giving people a voice

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Just saw this from Ragan and it shows how enterprise social networking tools can be used to engage all areas of the business and gain valuable insights.

http://www.ragan.com/Main/Articles/How_Yammer_connected_Air_Canadas_employees_47932.aspx

For too long we have focused on so called ‘knowledge workers’ as the major users and contributors of the social networking but, if cultivated correctly it can benefit every level and both management and workers.

There have always been fears about giving people voices in organisations but enterprise social networks have been successfully been deployed in unionised environments with more benefits than detractions.

From my own experiences one factor I believe that helps in this deployment are meetings and processes around ‘contingency planning’, from incidents at airports and in the sky, media breaches and industrial relations. We mapped out processes for each scenario that we highlighted to leadership as appropriate. These eased a number of fears. 

Also it was vital to show that this environment benefited everybody, giving workers a voice and also providing insights for leadership. One of the ways of achieving this was the development of advocates in crucial areas of the business, whether they be union activities that could spread the benefits of a tool that gives people and voice and begins to make the whole organisation more transparent and democratic, or leaders within departments that saw how much value they could get by receiving immediate insights into products, processes etc. 

This is not achieved through guidelines and corporate missives by but meeting and talking to people (lots of them) and spreading the word. Its people and not technology we engage with so it’s very ‘old school’ in terms of building this network – not just face-to-face but individual conversations via Yammer, email, face-to-face etc. 

One of the signals that I believe this was successful was an occurrence when a new member made a post about ‘how much money had the company wasted on this Facebook gimmick’. Before any of the core team could respond a large number of users from all levels of the business came on to defend the platform and giving real life examples of how Yammer helped them as individuals, as teams and as an organisations. 

I think once you get people thinking the platform is their voice and not a corporate tool then you can sit back and pat yourself on the back (only for a few minutes though).

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