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Archive for the ‘conversation’ Category

In conversation with “Silence”!

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on May 18, 2012

Reet comes out of a business meeting. She is surprised, as otherwise lively part of the meeting, question and answer session, did not receive expected participation. What worries Reet more is, workforce somehow preferring to remain silent and it’s gradually becoming a trend.

Are you also experiencing the same? What is causing this transformation?

Possible reasons for this change are:

  1. You are managing business extremely well, which gives no reason to complain about and it’s resulted in building a satisfied workforce.
  2. You have become predictable and participants can predict your response.
  3. Your workforce is not empowered to participate and voice their opinion.

You can ignore this non-engagement provided your meetings are not meant for attendees’ participation or if one way communication is a preferred method for your business.

Nevertheless, corrective actions are unavoidable, if you are pursuing an active involvement from workforce, as this behavior depicts lack of proper training and workforce empowerment efforts.

You might have mastered the art and economics of conducting successful meetings with no or planned participation but workforce’s withdrawal from discussion is a negative sign. You need to train, empower and motivate your employees to not only voice their opinions and issues but also for seeking solutions via constructive conversations.

It does not really matter if silence is forced upon workforce or they opted for it. As a leader, it’s your duty to listen sound of the silence and help your workforce to come out of it so that they can contribute towards the success of your business.

Posted in conversation, engagement, leadership | 1 Comment »

Join the Internal Enterprise Conversation, Already in Progress

Posted by Mark Bennett on October 19, 2009

2866399803_f10bdde231_mConversations among employees (vs. broadcasts from corporate) have always taken place in organizations – they just haven’t always been easily seen by the leaders. These conversations continue to take place inside, outside and across organization boundaries and recently, social technologies have substantially amplified their volume. These amplified conversations then get the attention of management, and not always in a constructive way.

The enterprise’s interests are better served by participating in these conversations, particularly through the effective use of social technologies, rather than by ignoring, rejecting, or banning their use. The result is not only higher employee productivity, more effective innovation, and greater employee engagement. It also results in the organization making more informed business decisions by having a better understanding of what makes the company “tick” and by being more aware of key events and conditions. Finally, the organization can have at least some input into the conversation as well, but only if it participates.

What are the conversations about?

Steve Boese posted a great summary of the findings in an IBM research paper on how employees were using social networks and why. One of the paper’s most eye-opening findings, and one that organizations should note, is that employees appear to use social network within the enterprise more for reaching out to employees they don’t already know and for building stronger bonds with them and their other “weak ties.” This is interesting to know as it is in contrast to what most detractors cite as why social networks within the enterprise would be a productivity drain. Those detractors often label it “Facebook for the Enterprise” and point out that a primary use of Facebook is just to keep current on what close friends are doing and gossip on things that have nothing to do with work, ergo it is a waste of time in the workplace. The research paper shows the error in thinking that is the primary use.

Beyond reaching out to create and build stronger ties, what else is happening? As mentioned in this earlier post on last month’s HR Technology® Conference, Nokia’s Matthew Hanwell related how his company gradually adopted internal use of social technologies. Steve also has a terrific summary of the points from that presentation. It turns out that employees sometimes also used the social technologies for general discussions about work. For instance, they might discuss overall state of the market, business profitability, and so on. They might discuss various benefit programs. In general, topics often on employees’ minds regarding things that impact their employment.

The upshot is that employees use social technologies to discuss the things they would still talk about even if the technologies didn’t exist or were banned. It’s the same thing they have always talked about and for good reason; it’s their career and their livelihood. For instance, the IBM paper shows that why employees have these conversations over internal social networks is reflected in the way they use them. Both developing one’s career and campaigning for a project are particularly assisted by reaching out and strengthening weak ties. That notion was covered in this previous post about the advantages of being more “central” in a given network through the creation and maintenance of diverse networks. You get more benefit from diversity of connections than simply pure quantity. (More to the point of this post, it’s about the diverse conversations and not just the connections themselves – you have to actually use the connections.)

How can the enterprise join the conversations?

Hanwell’s presentation showed that at first, fear drove much of the reluctance to permit social technologies in the enterprise in the first place. What would employees say? Could moderators keep up? In other words, worst-case thinking that in turn triggered further rationalizing rejection – such as governance costs – of the technologies. However, once key stakeholders understood that the conversations were happening anyway (including using external social technologies like Facebook) and that there was much to be gained by observing and participating in them, they gave the green light.

Most obstacles to the enterprise joining the conversation are self-inflicted. During the HR Happy Hour at the HR Technology conference, we talked about how organizations need help in overcoming the fear that puts up obstacles to successful adoption and use of social technologies. Jason Seiden pointed out the “risk-aversion” obstacle – in particular how it surfaces in staff departments like HR – which in many cases see only downside in backing an initiative like this. This is very much driven by how HR is viewed by the organization. As long as a given HR department is exclusively chartered with (and therefore measured on) compliance and governance oversight, and not with maximizing the strategic impact of talent, putting social technologies under its control will likely result in not much adoption, use, or benefit.

How can that perception be dealt with? We’ll hit that in another HR Technology – themed post soon.

Photo by cliff1066™

Posted in conversation, HR Technology, social network | Tagged: | 14 Comments »