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Technology is easy... People are hard!

05.01.2013
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Often when a company is rolling out a social business or enterprise collaboration project, the technology will be the “shiny new toy” part of the project – it is visible, easy to play with, and gets most of the attention. The home page of the new site gets designed and redesigned, and the team spends hours in meetings where mock-ups are paraded in front of conference rooms full of project sponsors.

This is roughly equivalent to a football team worrying more about what their uniforms look like than the players inside – “We look good – even if we can’t play together worth a darn!”

Collaborative work environments have huge advantages for business – decreased costs, increased customer satisfaction, higher revenues, and lowered employee turnover to name just a few. But in order to get these benefits, employees must start working differently. While most employees will eventually invent a way to take advantage of the new tools, many businesses delay the achievement of their social business goals by waiting for employees to “figure it out." Not only that, the inertia of historic company work habits keeps employees working the same old way.

Your employees are already experts at their current jobs – their current success is based on their current work habits, and they are unlikely to quickly change on their own since change comes with risk.

In order to get to the benefits of social business faster, smart business leaders not only train their teams on the new capabilities of the new tools, but they set expectations that it is time to change. This takes the risk out of change. Does your enterprise collaboration project include the following?

  • Do we know specifically in what ways we want our workforce to change?
  • Have we identified metrics that let us know we are making progress towards those goals?
  • Are we training our teams on the changes we want?
  • Is management aligned with these goals and leading the change?
  • Are company recognition, reward and compensation systems aligned with the new way of doing business?
  • Do we have a communication plan that supports all these objectives? (Hint: an email announcing “the system is up – go do good stuff” is not a communication plan).

Human beings are often reluctant to take risks and make changes by themselves. By identifying and communicating the desired outcomes, linking them to new ways of working, and leading and rewarding the changes, you can overcome the natural reluctance to take a risk, dramatically shorten the time to benefit, and increase the amount of benefit gained by the company.

In the end, the workforce wants to help the company succeed – successful social business projects take advantage of this and remove as much change risk as possible. This transforms your employees from boat anchors holding the company back into change agents driving the company towards success.

Published at DZone with permission of Jive Community, author and DZone MVB.

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