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Blog Posted in avatar   Judy White's Blog

Why Do Google and Facebook add Social Meaning to the Workplace?

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By Judy White
Posted Feb 2, 2011 in Business
One of the largest business developments in 2010 was in social media and it is expected to continue to grow according to most industry experts. There’s a significant amount of energy in this area that focuses on network growth, tools, analytics and marketing. Between the Google searches, blogging, tweeting, photo sharing and video uploads such as YouTube, Google Video, Yahoo Video, JobBeam, LiveVideo, a number of interesting trends have developed along with a healthy dose of skepticism as to the real value and social meaning these tools, and some similar technological variations, add to the changing workplace. Ignoring the key social media trends and the context in which they can flourish may leave some managers and organizations left behind in a new era of competition.
Over the last 10 years we’ve experienced rapid internet growth, expansion of broadband access and reach of global audiences. The extension of marketing’s reach through blogging and access to talent has allowed for exponential capability and power in bringing ideas, products and services to market. From a workplace context, it’s now second nature to access the web through our preferred devices and embrace data, business intelligence, information and people. The social meanings that these platforms provide are rich connections, diverse learning, collaboration, and a sense of community. Intangibles such as real time feedback, creativity, validation and relationship building are the central operating system of social media.
Consider the data points identified below. Is there any wonder why social media technologies have exploded when they provide easy access to people and information? Can today’s worker capture the same experience of productivity and access to information in order to produce a remarkable work product through the workplace intranet, traditional filing cabinet or a similar mechanism? If your intranet is robust perhaps they can. As business leaders consider sustainable growth strategies and their ability to attract and retain talent to execute, the managerial question at hand is, “How is meaningful value being created?”
Business leaders understand the key benefits of implementing social media technologies. However assessing the meaningful value and comparing it to IT security risks reveals significant potential threats of disrupting and or terminating major operations. These are key considerations as organizations consider going social. On Friday, January 28, 2011 Egypt shutdown the internet entirely as reported in Wired due to protest activity and discord. Very quickly businesses in Egypt and abroad were impacted.
People First. Technology Follows.
Going social can help deliver the promises of collaboration and innovation in the future. Ensuring that new opportunities are embraced and a real return on investment can be secured requires disciplined leadership action and evaluation of the challenges and implications to the workforce.
According to Dictionary.com Google is defined as a search for something on the internet or to check credentials. Facebook (v) is defined as a search for a person’s profile. Both of these definitions highlight an important action; search.
Search + Connect = @Social
Even without social media technology platforms these types of google searches occur between co-workers in the workplace every day; face-to-face. Through social media platforms companies can connect rapidly and gain access to extensive networks of experts. It would appear that expanding the use of social media platforms would solve many challenges for businesses, especially in the area of communications.
Trust is a significant factor in the quality of information exchange, idea generation and customer interactions. Although technology may drive greater transparency and reduce some level of organizational conflict, there are additional steps leaders must take to resolve underlying cultural issues.
Workers are sometimes unwilling to ask each other for information or share it. Asking another co-worker or colleague across the enterprise may be considered embarrassing and a threat to one’s self esteem. Employees and managers may not want to be perceived as ignorant or incompetent in their jobs. The challenge for workers is often that the information needed is held hostage in overcrowded intranets, realized or unrealized bottle necks of structure, unorganized files, or the inability to access key decision makers. Concern regarding perceptions made by others may present a problem in the often political culture of the workplace.
Taking a holistic and honest assessment of the organizational culture and the implications these technologies have on the current and future workforce are critical to successful transition. Technology alone will not solve the highly toxic behavior and tactics of withholding information, nonparticipation or the discrediting of others which carries over to online behavior. The preparing of the organizational culture for social media is paramount for delivering on strategic promises.
Competing in the Future
Organizations that can rapidly align and adapt their culture for the next era of competition, whether face-to-face or through social media, may create remarkable business outcomes for employees, customers and share holders.
In addition companies might consider reinforcing the following social computing guidelines:
• Participation and responsible engagement is to enhance innovation, dialogue and
contribution.
• Organizational brand can be remarkably represented by its workforce.
• Establish Standards of Conduct Guidelines and Smart Social Media Policies.
Companies can begin to leap forward by taking several actions to improve their overall talent management strategy by:
• Conducting a strategic talent review and aligning business strategy.
• Pulse Check – discover the workforce insights that may derail your innovation
promises and execute on pro-active solutions.
• Developing business centered and people management competencies for leaders.
For more information on a strategic talent review, click here.
Deliver on social promises. Visit SocialNomics by author Erik Qualman.

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