Social media is making the top-down approach to management obsolete, and that’s affecting the way companies conceive of themselves and treat their workers, writes Soren Gordhamer.
By giving every worker a voice, social media increases the importance of an inclusive and innovative corporate culture, and of leaders articulating a powerful vision of their company’s big-picture goals, Gordhamer writes.
“The old paradigm was individualistic and focused on thriving to be personally brilliant; the new one is much more social, and it involves creating cultures that enhance innovation in all those present,” he writes.
Read more – http://on.mash.to/fEu2M4
As an employee, individual and citizen of this country we are faced with this dichotomy every day of our lives.
As an employee, you may find yourself at a barbecue when someone turns around and asks you what it is like working for your organisation? Now do you tell the truth – after all transparency and the truth are vital today or do you give the traditional corporate talking head version: “We are a company of integrity, a company of beer and roses?”
As a citizen the South African government expects you to be a proud citizen, an ambassador of this country but on the other hand you experience and deal with crime and corruption every day. Must you therefore be loyal and not speak the truth?
The media is castigated for speaking the truth or apparently only giving their version- for not reporting enough on the good news. Again, truth versus loyalty! How do we balance this in our organisations?
In other organisations, serious witch hunts are undertaken when a mysterious e-mail surfaces highlighting contentious issues and incidents. Again, what do organisations want? Truth or Loyalty?
As an employee what should you do about issues in your organisation? Speak up and get “bombed?” Speak up and be castigated as an “impimpi?” (A spy) Phone a friend in the media? BCC the wrong person? Leave it until it destroys your organisation’s good name? Apply for protection under some act that deals with protective disclosure?
Here are a few questions you should ask in this context and ideas that you can use:
- What is the state of upwards flow of communication in your organisation? Is the process working well?
- Are you relying on tools such as anonymous hotlines and other forms of media? Who measures their effectiveness and efficiency? Does your hotline to which people can call in or ask a question work? Can I phone it without fear of negative repercussions? Do you have in place a cross-functional panel which can respond and provide recommended alternates if needed?
- Do you have an active suggestion scheme operating in your organisation? Ideas are the lifeblood of innovation.
- Take a close look at the Occupational Health & Safety Act and its communication system. It is a tried and tested system that works well under the right conditions. Can you learn from it?
- Examine statistics such as exit interviews, internal audit reports, safety records, etc.
Two weeks ago I launched and facilitated my new program called Strategic Employee Stakeholder Engagement in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
During the event a number of interesting questions came up in group discussions. One of these was: ‘What are the visible signs of engagement in a business?’
One definition of Engagement is that it is defined as employees who are mentally and emotionally invested in their work and in contributing to their employer‘s success.
If we unpack engagement using NLP, it means that we need to look for visual, auditory and kinaesthetic clues. I gave it some thought and based on my experience in performing communication audits and employee climate surveys came up with the following checklist:
2. Look for clothing, office arrangements and /or perk differences – this gives a clue about status or job level differences.
3. Look where people get together to talk. Study the body language and facilitation patterns of people.
4. Take a close look at formal communication channels and media. Look at the tone of the conversations.
5. Look at visible motivation efforts such as posters and the like.
6. Have conversations with people. Ask them what they do. Look out for differences beyond words.
In her book, Transformation Thinking, Joyce Wycoff also listed the following clues:
While each organization has its own personality and culture, look for the following clues:
- white boards and easel pads in meeting rooms, common areas, and offices lots of open-access bulletin boards,
- walls covered with charts, graphs, flowcharts, and project maps, pictures of employees doing things together both at work and socially, product demonstrations or product pictures on display,
- pictures of customers using products or special boards for customer comments, survey results or letters,
- frequent clustering of people working on problems, issues and ideas ,
- open doors throughout the organization,
- high energy cafeterias used by all levels and often subsidized , high contribution to community and charitable organizations – adopt-a-school, etc.,
- high level of involvement in sports and social activities,
- first-come, first-serve parking ,
- absence of executive perks – "mahogany row," executive dining rooms, etc.
- employee-oriented newsletters – employee stories, celebration of personal events, reports on social activities, pictures, shared information – sales, profits. shipments or other financial goals posted for all to see
- personalized workspaces, sometimes radically personalized
- frequent celebrations at the organization, department and individual level – from birthday parties to award presentations,
- frequent training opportunities open to all
- frequent sighting of company T-shirts, hats and other insignia
- company legends – stories of success or outlandish events or deals,
- high level of acceptance of diversity and tolerance of eccentricity,
Last but definitely not least: lots of laughter and fun!
What about your organisation? Take the next 5-10 minutes to identify “clues”from your own organisation. Then compare notes with the members of your team. What could you do to implement some of the clues?
The clues listed above are not just cosmetics or window dressings that management can dictate or manipulate. They are the underlying clues (Schein called it artefacts) that the organization supports individual growth,transformation and is serious about engagement.
P.S Please note I did not even mention Social Media…..just to make a point that employee engagement is far more than social networking techniques.
So why are other employees treated differently?
Many managers forget that the first 30 days of a new employee’s tenure with the company is vital for that person’s career, performance and for the company’s reputation.
But in many companies, this process is left unattended. No wonder they call it orientation or induction. And, here I am thinking that induction is what you to do to a pregnant women, when they induce labour by putting small white pill under her tongue. Both terms just don’t cut it in my opinion.
This is where exposure to Armed Forces training helps. In the Armed Forces you undergo a period call basics. This process of culturization is also sometimes called psychological indoctrination. For instance, you get to carry a rifle for a couple of weeks, before they give you live ammunition. During this period you learn to handle your rifle under all types of conditions until you are accustomed to handling it.
This process is based on the Cycle of Learning which takes employees through a process moving from being unconsciously incompetent to eventually becoming unconsciously competent. This continuous cycle I discuss in a document called Reputation Risk and the Cycle of Learning (e-mail me if you would like a copy).
In 1991 Warren Buffett said these now famous words: “If you lose dollars for the firm by bad decisions, I will be understanding. If you lose reputation for the firm, I will be ruthless.”
Are these not the type of words a new employee needs to hear? But words are not enough. Should we not empower the new employee right from the beginning to factor reputation into his or hers actions and behaviours?
Should we not right from the beginning lay the foundation for success and performance?
A Proper Orientation program can go a long way to creating a platform for the employees future growth. If we consider that reputation manifests itself through communication and the experiences that a stakeholder has a with an organization, then this process is crucial to preventing reputation risk in any organisation.
By ensuring that we have dedicated and focused employees who understand the value of reputation as an asset can go a long way to preventing the manifestation of Reputation Risk.
So to assist your reputation management efforts, I have prepared a document for you called ‘ The First 30 Days – An ORIENTATION PROGRAMME with a Difference’’ which you can get by contacting me
Let me know if this is useful to you.