Enterprise Social Networking’s Got Talent

By Richard Hughes on November 23, 2012

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I’ve been at the HR Performance 2012 conference at the London ExCel centre this week, talking about the benefits of and implementation strategies for employee social networks, and HR’s role in these projects.  In a slightly surreal twist, elsewhere in the ExCel at the same time, the auditions for Britain’s Got Talent were taking place, so mingling with HR Directors were teenagers in leg warmers, and emanating from many of the bathrooms was the sound of singers rehearsing enthusiastically. To add further to the incongruity, there were reports of dancers performing their acts in front of the HR exhibitors in to earn company-branded pens.

But think a little harder, and these two colliding worlds are not so very different. Indeed, one of my presentations was entitled Nurturing your employee talent on an enterprise social network. HR professionals and BGT judges are all trying to identify, develop and harness talent.

It doesn’t take too long to exhaust that particular metaphor, and perhaps the biggest difference, is that BGT sets this talent against each other in competition, whereas HR strives to make it work together as a team. This is one of the reasons I have always been uneasy about the term gamification – it inherently aims to set teams members against each other. Some people do find this motivating, but many others consider it contrary to everything a good workplace should be.

However, I do think that members of enterprise social networks could learn a little from BGT hopefuls in the way they promote themselves and their work. Too many network members focus more on how they consume information from others, rather than how they display their knowledge and experience for the benefit of other members. They are too quick to complain about not finding others’ work while failing to present their own in a way that makes it easily consumable by other network members. Social network profile pages provide an ideal opportunity to lay out your work in a way that benefits other members, to narrate your work  to help your colleagues understand your current projects. 

Of course, nobody likes blatant self-promotion from colleagues, so there is a balance to be struck here. But everyone employed by an organisation is being paid for a reason and must have some skill, knowledge or experience of value to offer. Your social network’s got talent, so take a few moments to make sure you are using your profile to explain to other members what your particular talent is.