Hail thee fellow heroes of information worker productivity.
Everyone talks about social networking and social media nowadays. This new media definitely rocks our boats in our daily lives. This blog article looks at the power of social networking and how it could be used within the organization to boost productivity. In the first part we look at social networking benefits in general, while the second article focuses more on the social networking features of SharePoint 2013.
Now relax, get some cold ale and enjoy. ;-)
May peace favour your swords fellow information worker heroes…
When we work in teams, we form a community. Even though it is usually a rather small community, but for some reason we (or also someone else) decided to put a bunch of people together to work together on a common goal which benefits all of us, or a greater good (hopefully). In order to become a working community, we need communication. And a LOT of it.
So why are communities so important? Well we humans are “heard animals”. We thrive within a group, we get motivated to go forward and sometimes even step over our own comfort zone when we work in groups. This type of behavior is hard-wired into our very being. Of course, no rule without exceptions. There are many individuals out there who also thrive as lone wolves. But in general we can say, if we have a working community we get stuff done. And its just a mathematical fact that many of us simply can get more done than individuals.
If we apply this for our daily work that follows exactly the same rules. A broken communication results to distrust and trust is one of the main basements for a working community.
Gartner found out that a working community can raise the productivity of individuals up to 25%. And that is a LOT. Think about, that you would get done ¼ more of work done when you feel safe, respected and heard from your peers. It does make sense to me at least.
Ok, so if this is the case why do we still struggle with adopting even more social empowering features to our communication platforms within organization?
Well there are many different reasons for that. The first and maybe most significant is change. Being open and transparent about everything you do is a new way of doing work for the most of us. We are used to keep silos of information to make our knowledge unique and rare in order to become valuable for others who can draw from that information. But think about what you can achieve as a collective when everyone shares the knowledge and together builds something great.
There are also other reasons like cultural differences, different timezones, information overflow and too much stress in life.
Social networks however help you to communicate more seamless, more often and in most of the cases communicate stuff what actually matters. Or that’s how it’s supposed to be used for.
Everyone nowadays knows or even uses Facebook and Twitter. Why do we like it so much? It triggers some of the most powerful human traits. Curiosity. Facebook is about following “friends” when Twitter is about following #Topics. Facebook is also about collecting friends and Twitter about collecting as many followers as possible. Nowadays we even start to measure social prowess on the amount of Facebook “friends” you have or how many Twitter followers you could attract. There are even companies out there who sell virtual Twitter followers or Facebook friends in order to make your social presence look awesome. Why does this work? We know that we are curious beings. We know that we are seen from others. We want to be seen as social potent.
Ok, now why is this really rarely working within an enterprise?
When we look at MySites in SharePoint, it’s like looking at an abandoned town from a western movie. Why do people don’t update their MySites nor connect with their peers?
I think it has a lot to do with how we are used to work. Company profiles or identities are in the domain of HR. HR exactly knows all the skills and abilities of their employees (or they should know at least). So if you would need a certain skill for producing a product you would go to HR and ask if we have a person with this particular skill set in-house. With MySites and and social networking capabilities we can do that ourselves. But we cannot find anyone when there is no data. So there we have the chicken or egg problem again.
Think about how much raise in productivity one would gain when you could use people search to find a person with the skills you need, create an ad-hoc meeting with that person to communicate your problem. Problems get solved much faster that way. You can see this behaviour in Facebook very often.
Many times you can see you friends posting updates about “Can someone recommend me a great steakhouse in Helsinki?”. These types of posts usually create the most of engagement. People like to help others, because altruism is one of our core needs. Helping others makes us feel good and happy.
So why not to streamline this type of behaviour in your Organization? Imagine how much this would accelerate communication and problem solving times. I definitely believe that well used social networks in companies can boost productivity up to 25%. I personally listening to my gut feeling I would say it goes even beyond that figure.
How to achieve now this social adoption? I would say make it a mayor part of your internal communication strategy. Embrace zero-Inbox principles, reward people with high social engagements and full MySite Profiles (Here we have Gamification again). Rome has not been built within one day. Change takes time but somewhere we need to start building the foundation of something great and useful for all of us.
SharePoint, Strength and Social networks!