2005’s Distractions are Today’s Efficiencies

This being cross-posted from Ogilvy’s Fresh Influence blog.

Social Media is no longer the shiny new object, it has become more of an expected medium over time. Think about it, how often do you look for a company’s Facebook page before even visiting their website? As organizations begin to embrace the social sphere as a critical medium to connect with their constituents, I think it’s also important to remember it is a valuable tool for the workforce as well. Social Media is often overlooked as a medium that can strengthen a workforce and create efficiencies.

Not to long ago, I worked for a Global 100 company that employed close to a half a million employees. We had a saying that was repeated almost daily and it was: “If only our company knew what our company knows”. And what we meant by that saying was that there was probably someone inside the company who could provide counsel or help solve any issue that might arise. The mystery or the bigger challenge was always who and then how to get on their radar. And while email is definitely an important medium, it is not always the most efficient one as people may not be quick to respond to someone they do not know or to an email sent to a large group.

Social media is the medium that can help you get on the radar of the right person. There are many tools inside social media that can create operating efficiencies and strengthen the workforce by making it easy to reach across the aisle or the ocean whatever the case may be. The utility is endless.

For instance a wiki with a listing of employees and their expertise that is optimized and easy to search could help identify who is the right person to tap for the expertise that is needed for any situation. In a matter of minutes, an employee could narrow down the pool of people who could be of service to them. Public forums like Facebook and Twitter can boost employee moral by narrowing the gap between cubicle and corner office. We’ve identified five benefits of engaging with employees internally via social media:

1. Education – listening and reacting to those within the community
2. Collaboration – crowd sourcing, sharing materials and performing virtual brainstorms to ensure a diversity of opinions
3. Communication efficiencies – using character and word limitation to your benefit while appreciating the gift of brevity
4. Thought Leadership – encouraging free thought and collaboration can lead to thought leadership as your organization progresses
5. Employee Development – creating an area for constant growth by asking questions and encouraging critical thinking

Gone are the days of blocking Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn from office computers because they’re thought to create inefficiencies. While social media guidelines should certainly be in place for activity facing the world, there will continue be some gray space as we change our company model. As the battle for productivity and ingenuity continues, we must transform our organizational structure to accommodate the fundamental changes in human behavior. After all, it’s only natural.

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