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The Social Employee

18th November 2013 by toucan team

Internal comms Social Media The Team User Experience

In the world today employees and customers alike are being social online. Take a look at some analysis that is measured over 60 seconds:

Facebook; 41 000 posts,1.8 million likes

Twitter; 278 000 tweets

Youtube; 72 hours of video uploaded

Google; 2 million searches

Websites; 571 new websites created

LinkedIn; 11 000 professional searches

WordPress; 347 new blog post

Instagram; 3600 photos

Email; 204 million sent

Its vast and increasing. What is clear is that we have entered the era of the social employee. Not the millennials, just people being social and engaged. An employee that is actively everyday, sharing and publishing content. Many organisations are trying to prevent this by banning social media at work. Thats like trying to hold back a tsunami with your bare hands. Instead organisations need to figure out a way of channeling this new wave of behaviour. However, herein lies the problem, organisations are not set up, just yet, for what could become a catalyst for success. Not only that but its changing the expectations of what we call the social employee. They will require and even demand a new way of thinking:

1. Structure – social employees won’t respond positively to residing in silos, they are itching to work collaboratively across departments, countries and continents to do the work.

2. Manage – they don’t want to be managed. By using these social technologies, they can self organise, self regulate and will create without permission. They will have less respect for hierarchy and will insist on more freedom. They won’t work vertically but be far more engaged working horizontally with people that inspire them.

3. Competition – increasingly your workforce will reject competition in favour of co creation with competitors, colleagues and individuals.

4. Experience – social employees are in charge of creating their own career experience. They will not need organisations to provide that and will not seek out linear career paths. They will migrate to where the interesting/exciting work is.

5. Meaningful – they will work on projects, yes not in jobs, that create results that people want. They will be focused less on monetary rewards and more on the intention to serve the well being of all. The reason for this is the impending re connecting of leadership and people.

6. Control – this will/is being replaced with connection, communication and collaborative. The social employee will not be happy if they are not spending enormous amounts of time with fellow humans online and offline conceiving and innovating together. The boring work will be done by computers.

7. Disruptive change – individuals will become comfortable with constant, fast paced change. In fact they will thrive of it, demanding agile, adaptive organisations to feed that change.

8. Transparency – you can’t fool a social employee. Open systems, open communication, naked leadership.

9. Ownership – the social employee is less concerned with owning stuff and more bothered about having unadulterated access to what they need.

10. Equality – they will want equality, knowing it serves the greater good.

These modifications to culture will demand new skills sets in addition to the ones being taught in our schools. Data and analysis literacy, media literacy and digital/social literacy at the same levels as language and arithmetic. In addition, they will require organisations to be more flexible, adaptable, with cross cultural interaction and in some cases structureless. This is a profound systems shift we are experiencing currently, we are moving from linear to multilateral communication, as Charles Leadbeater, said from ‘me to we,’ from system centric to human centric. Our problem? It is all embodied in structures and systems not designed for this rearrangement of work.

So we have some challenges and some key questions to answer:

1. How due we restructure to embrace a more agile environment, removing silos and creating spaces and places for people to collaborate?

2. How can we help employees re connect the work they do with work they love?

3. How do we move leadership styles from one of control to one that radiates facilitation?

4. How do we design amazing, productive experiences for our employees or should we say colleagues?

5. How do we stop telling people what the organisation wants and instead spend more time listening to what the people want?

There is no cautious way to say this, there are huge gaps between how our organisations are designed currently to where they need to be now. Its the biggest leadership test for a century. Your decision is not about how you control social media but how you channel it.

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