Monday, November 3, 2008

Slacking at work - not me!

A brace of days without posting! What's going on at Socially Ept? Is Terry slacking off?

I have to admit to spending this (Japanese) Labor Day weekend devouring a great new report from Demos (see the Creative Commons license small print at the end of this post). My strong advice is for all you socialites to get hold of this, read it, and incorporate its wisdom into your own thinking. Authors Peter Bradwell and Richard Reeves have created an excellent report that dives deep into the way that social networks can actually be a force-multiplier for organizations when they have a sensible use policy for employees.

Demos' paper provides some excellent case studies about how leveraging social networks added staggering value at a number of British companies. This is real stuff, and the companies involved represent "main street" rather than a bunch of digital start-ups.

The rise of social networks has meant that organizations - which are normally hierarchical - face significant challenges in empowering employees to both represent the brand and use social networks to add value to their work. Let's be realistic - your knowledge workers are almost certainly using social media to energize their social networks. My error margin is about 0.1%.

They use those networks regardless of company policy - if a short-sighted HR group has "banned" the use of popular tools at work because it "wastes time", then theywill use them at home or somewhere else. Time to remember the hoary old "better to have them in the tent p*ssing out" chestnut ...

Instead, consider having your people "out and about" whizzing around social media and reporting back to the team on what they see and what it might mean. You can "limit" the time, but remember that even Google gives selected employees the opportunity to spend 20% of their time on approved projects.

It's safe to say that banning "normal" activity in a misguided effort to drive productivity is not an employee loyalty-building approach. More likely, your younger talent will figure out you don't "get it" and begin to look for another employer that offers more degrees of freedom.

And let's face it - the key issue for companies today isn't the next brilliant idea or tweaks to the business model. It's the battle for talent. And unless you use every tool at your disposal, you'll end up watching your most valuable assets walk out the door.

Thought for the Day: Maybe it's time to remember that one excellent way of generating customer insights is to watch what your people are doing when no-one's watching. If you're actively forbidding them to do things, chances are you are blindfolding yourself. So, loosen up!

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Resonate said...

Hi Terry,

In the flavour of this post, some recommended reading - "The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom" by Yochai Benkler 2006.

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