Getting social at work

Facebook today announced its pilot of Facebook At Work…it’s new work-only social tool. It’s big news for organizations looking to help their teams connect. 

 In recent years, larger organizations have been wavering along the “enterprise social” spectrum. Some have blocked social media entirely, mainly causing resentment and the inevitable workarounds. Many have thrown mind-blowing budgets into new tools, taking a “Provide and Pray” approach - build it, launch it, then cross our fingers that people use it. Most have taken the path of least resistance by allowing social access, then throwing millions into employee intranets or document repositories to take care of the rest. 

Invariably, few of these approaches have realized their goals. Some have fizzled out, with a few ardent loyalists clinging on hoping that the powers that be will let it live-just-a-little-bit-longer. The intranets built to “drive collaboration” take so long to create and fill with content (or link to the plethora of legacy system content) that employees and the organization experience “initiative fatigue”. 

The reason for this disappointment? The focus is placed on the tool, not the person. Instead of understanding what employees want to share, hear, learn or join, the “tool” has become the blunt object. Seduced by wanting to tap into the power of “social”, organizations default to “plug and play”. 

People at work are still people. They’re overwhelmed with tools and systems to manage to accomplish even the simplest task. People so often don’t use the complicated enterprise software mandated to them, and instead find hacks to work around in their way. Start-ups such as Asana and Basecamp have seen great success with designing with the user in mind and enabling collaborating through intuition. But social has not yet found its footing. 

Social is about people connecting together, forming an authentic bond, sharing knowledge, intelligence or just friendship. Often, “social” is less about the work, more about the cultivating the energy and mindset related to being successful at work. And that involves more than a tool. 

So, when considering “social at work”, gather intelligence first on:

1. What do we expect from our team members in their daily lives as “employee”?

2. What is it about our company culture and our expectations for the team that we need to support?

3. How can we best empower our team members to accomplish their goals?

4. What does collaboration look like at our company? How do people work together (or want to work together)?

5. What type of information does our team need to share?

6. What tools do we ask our team to use today, and how are they used?

7. What barriers exist today to team members creating stronger bonds together?

8. How can the company enable the non-work social fabric of the team?

If the people are put first, the connections will come.