In the first ten chapters and blog posts, we talked about how you can connect your customers with the groundswell, and now we consider the employees – a natural constituency for social connections. Your employees having something in common. They work for you, and they have a common goal: your company’s success (Li & Bernoff, 2011).
Internal communication can be hindered by the size of the company and information typically flows down the management ladder. Getting insights back up to management and encouraging collaboration among people in the workplace is harder. Many employees are connecting on internal social networks, collaborating on wikis, and contributing to idea exchanges. These ideas, whether coming from management or self-made, tap into the power of the groundswell of ideas among the people who know best how your business runs.
The internal groundswell is all about creating new ways for people to connect and work together, it’s about relationships and not technology. To nurture the groundswell power of your employees: promote listening cultures from the top down, ease and encourage participation with incentives, and find and empower the rebels in your organization.
Internal social applications demand a high level of trust because employees have more at stake when they participate as they usually possess information that has not made been aware to the public such as trade secrets. Unlike external social networks, the participants can’t be anonymous and only works when the culture permits it. Management needs to understand their role and listen to openly contributed opinions. Without management’s active participation, the efforts will fail because there is no substitute for management involvement. Rather than thinking about the things that could go wrong, think about the opportunity cost of not creating enthusiastic employees and be ready to fail.
Social networks can help spark employee communication but no matter what you’re after, in the internal groundswell, the secret to thriving is culture. It is about managing and changing how an organization works. The technologies used to initiate this communication need to involve the active participation of top management, and the participation of your employees to gain the benefits.
Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business Review.