Thursday 29 September 2016

Internal Social Networking – Five Rules of the Road

This post was originally published on Edelman.com.

There is one question that consistently floats to the top of my conversations with organizations looking to develop or enhance their employee communications strategies: How do we address the blurring lines between the way people communicate in their personal and professional lives?

Our personal communications habits have changed, and that impacts how we want to communicate in the workplace. We expect more transparency, an ability to ask questions and provide feedback in real-time and build communities with others who share our interests. This is why so many organizations have turned to building internal social networking and collaboration tools that allow employees to engage in dialogue, share ideas and work together across geographies and job functions.

I’ve outlined five considerations for companies looking to leverage internal social networking and collaboration platforms:

  1. You can guide responsible dialogue, but you can’t control it. Companies must be comfortable trusting employees to openly share their ideas and thoughts, but there also must be a specific social media behavior policy in place to ensure employees know the boundaries, like using respectful language and not disclosing confidential information.
  2. Just because you build it doesn’t mean they will come. Make sure whatever tool you create for employees aligns with your organization’s culture or you might end up with a top-notch tool that no one uses. Take time to train your people on how to use it, explain its purpose and manage any changes required to facilitate its adoption as part of their jobs.
  3. Transparency is key. All employees should be required to use their real names when engaging on an internal social platform.
  4. Capture, share and use what you learn. Internal social networking sites provide a wealth of information and learnings from the people who know your business best. Put processes in place to make sure that knowledge is managed and leveraged for everyone’s benefit.
  5. Make collaboration a cornerstone of your business. Encourage employees to engage in collaboration sites and incentivize them to participate with tools such as gamification, recognition or badges. Make sure managers understand the value of internal social networking and empower their people with the time and permission to participate.

Image credit: freefotouk

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