Tag: clearvale

HR Performance Event 2012 – BroadVision Seminar Sessions

Enterprise social network solutions, as well as changes in employee expectations regarding communication and collaboration at work, are placing additional challenges on HR Departments as the guardians of organisational culture. Both the desire for and the nature of these social business solutions is here to stay. HR need to navigate their way through the various interests in an organisation to manage both the bottom up ‘viral’ adoption that we have seen from various discussion platforms in recent years as well as the strategic initiatives for employee engagement. The key thing is that your organization’s culture and challenges are unique; blanket approaches such as: ‘Let’s get everyone on xxxxxx’, may not really solve your specific business problems or facilitate the transformation required.

The business benefits of social collaboration are real; unlocking knowledge; driving innovation; faster and more informed decision-making; and improved productivity. However, many social business projects fail to gain wide adoption, either through underuse and a perceived lack of real benefits; or through overuse and a perceived lack of productivity. Ultimately, whether the perception is positive or negative will tie closely to the quality of the interactions between employees and other participants, e.g., the value of the content they contribute. HR has a significant role to play both in the choice of an enterprise social network solution and in setting out a plan for adoption.

BroadVision is proud to be sponsoring the ‘HR Innovation and Technology’ Arena at the HR Performance 2012 event November 21st and 22nd at ExCel  in London where we will be presenting two key sessions on driving value out of your investment in an Enterprise Social Network.

The first session on Wednesday November 21st (10:15) will examine the way employees’ online behaviour may differ to real-life behaviour. This presents both opportunities and challenges in developing employee engagement strategies to unlock the knowledge of all participants in your enterprise social network.

The second session on Thursday November 22nd (14:15) will look at how to get the best out of your enterprise social network solution. Your social collaboration platform must be more than an additional discussion channel. To be truly effective your solution needs to be a place where real work gets done. To achieve that, the network needs to be the host of real business processes, whether they are new processes or existing processes migrated into the social network from elsewhere. Simply taking an existing business process and hosting it in a social network fails to take advantage of the inherent benefits of a social environment. This session will examine what is a “social business process”, and how does it differ from what we have seen before.

For HR, the opportunity to help drive superior business performance by designing and implementing strategies to increase and reward effective collaboration has never been more apparent. If you believe your organization can achieve significant competitive advantage by more effective internal communication, collaboration, and teamwork, then you as an HR practitioner will definitely benefit from both these sessions. To book please see the HR Performance 2012 event seminar sessions.

Mr. Enterprise Manners

Although I only make the distinction in my head, I prefer to think of social media as “participatory” media. That is, unlike traditional media, the true value of social media only manifests itself when you participate in it; which can include creating and sharing content, commenting on content, choosing who to follow, etc.

But that also includes whom you choose to unfollow. If you find an old friend on Twitter, you can follow them. But if their constant posts about lunch and picture of dogs turn you off, you can choose to unfollow them. I believe there is absolutely nothing negative about that progression of events; everyone has their own idea of what they want to share and experience, and social media give us the ability to sort through what is available and make our own decisions.

But some people aren’t content with this. They feel the need to make lists about what you should and should not Tweet about, as though there is some kind of universal system that must be adhered to. As opposed to passively choosing who and what content to follow, I find these attempts to control what people say both negative and destructive. There is no universal set of guidelines (other than those set up by the creators of the platforms themselves) that should be followed in social media. I think the old response to TV censorship applies: if you don’t like it, change the channel.

But of course, that way of thinking applies to consumer social networks. Enterprise social networks require a totally different approach. Its up to every company’s HR and legal department to dictate what is and what is not appropriate behavior on an ESN. And those guidelines should and must be adhered to. I genuinely believe they’re designed not to inhibit creativity and individualism, but to protect you and your company.

Over the last year, I have developed some “rules” for how I conduct myself on our own internal Clearvale network. And before I share them, I’d like to make it as clear as possible that these are my own rules, created by me, and never meant to replace or supersede the rules already developed internally.

1. Our ESN is a virtual extension of our office

Just because I may be writing a blog post or responding to a question while physically in my apartment or an internet café doesn’t mean I’m “in” my apartment or the café. When I am using Clearvale, I’m “in” the office and will always behave as such.

2. Someone is watching

I never, ever write anything on our ESN that I would not say within earshot of my coworkers. For me, they are the gold standard. You might conjure your CEO, manager, partner, grandma, etc. Picking someone like this can make it much easier to make a decision when you’re unsure if what you’re about to post is appropriate.

I should point out that this never prevents me from voicing an opinion, commenting on something or uploading a piece of content; that would be the antithesis to what Clearvale is all about. It’s just a helpful reminder to pay as much attention to how I conduct myself on our ESN as I do around my coworkers.

3. Don’t offend, don’t be offended

I’ll never forget my 9th grade history teacher, who told us that you have as much responsibility to try not to be offended by others as you do to not be offensive. He said this in reference to traveling abroad, but it is a rule I’ve tried to stick to in my every day life.

I’m very lucky to work in a place where people are thoughtful and polite, even when time is a precious commodity. However, you might find people leaving responses to your work that might seem brusque. Instead of getting upset, take a breath and ask yourself a very important question: is this comment helpful? How you deal with a person you find rude is up to you (and possibly your HR manager). But while you’re dealing with interpersonal issues, you still have to get your work done.

4. If there isn’t a dedicated space for pictures of your dog or local restaurant reviews, you should probably refrain from posting them

When it comes to my own personal use of Twitter and Facebook, I love to see pictures of my friends and family with their pets. I never get to spend as much time with them as I’d like, and those pictures are a nice, but distant second. I also love reading about food. If I see something I like, it goes into the mental database

There might be a decision within your company to build special communities with your ESN for this kind of content. I actually think it can be quite valuable, in terms of getting to know your coworkers and the locale of your office. But your ESN wasn’t built for this kind of thing; it was built for getting work done.

Does Your Company’s Intranet Have a Central Park?

This year marks the 200-year anniversary of the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811; the plan that gave way to Manhattan’s grid system that still exists today. In fact, it’s just about impossible to imagine Manhattan without it. The often near-perfect 90-degree angles that make up the city blocks (except for pesky Broadway and a few other troublemakers) can provide people with a feeling of order in a place that is often, for residents and visitors alike, overwhelming.

Created as an orderly way to develop the city’s infrastructure, the plan was, at the time of its creation, criticized for being too rigid. However presently, the plan is most often praised for its foresight and utility. Manhattan is one of the few major cities in the world that is not bisected by a major highway, preserving a healthy pedestrian culture; something that might not have been feasible without the grid system and its wide avenues.

However many would find other faults with the plan and its creators knew it. They said so in the plan itself:

“It may to many be a matter of surprise that so few vacant spaces have been left, and those so small, for the benefit of fresh air and consequent preservation of health. Certainly if the City of New York was destined to stand on the side of small streams such as the Seine or the Thames, a great number of ample places might be needful. But those large arms of the sea which embrace Manhattan island render its situation in regard to health and pleasure as well to the convenience of commerce, peculiarly felicitous.”

The assumption was that Manhattan’s waterfront would provide an open, clean space for its citizens. Obviously, this did not work out as originally planned.

Crowded, dirty and loud, the city continued to grow without a “place” to disconnect from the realities of the rapidly changing urban lifestyle. Facing a serious civil disaster, the city didn’t begin planning a solution – Central Park – until 1850, and Central Park as we know it today didn’t really open until 1873.

The point of all of this, as it relates to enterprise social networks is that it is entirely possible to create something that perfectly solves the problem it was designed to fix which ignores other issues that can be just as dire. The health issues, both physical and psychological, that began to accumulate before the creation of Central Park would have almost certainly reached some kind of critical mass if a solution had not been found, and New York City would probably not be anything like what it is today.

It has been apparent for some time now that the way we work is changing, and much of the infrastructure needed to do that work is virtual. At least one study has already shown that some people are experiencing fatigue with Facebook, which for many people is used as a leisure activity. Who is to say that employees won’t experience a similar type of fatigue when working in a virtual environment?
As companies build there own “Commissioner’s Plan” for organizing virtual enterprise spaces, it might not be a bad idea to consider developing areas within their intranet that facilitate interaction that isn’t totally work related, at least not in the strictest sense.

Synaptics, a leading developer of human interface solutions, has built a Human Resource intranet using Clearvale Enterprise. Earlier this year, they discussed plans to creatively develop communities within the intranet for some often overlooked uses. One such community would be the platform for an “employee wellness program”, where coworkers can share experiences with maintaining a healthy lifestyle and dealing with illnesses. Synaptics hopes that this will encourage employees to interact with and learn more about one another, as well as potentially decreasing sick days and mitigating healthcare costs. Additionally, the company is considering developing an internal social network where employees can further get acquainted and get a better sense of one another’s roles within the company.

Enterprise Social Networking certainly provides us with unique way to improve workflow, but it also provides us with ways to creatively solve issues whose “2.0” version (such as fatigue) have not yet fully manifested.

Employee Engagement: What makes the difference?

“Employees are an organisation’s greatest asset”, or so we keep getting told, and you’ll probably find it written in some shape or form in the ‘Corporate Responsibility’, ‘Corporate Values’ or ‘Our Employees’ section of most organisation’s websites . . . but why is it that many organisations still fail to fully engage their employees and leverage that ‘asset’. Is it because organisations are still in a process-centric mindset and focused on their key business processes, like ‘order-to-cash’, that drive an organisation to achieve its objectives and deliver shareholder value? Employees know their role and know what is expected of them, which is all well and good, but are they truly engaged and invested in the organisation?

Achieving engagement in the workplace is challenging and there are many studies and treatise and blogs and forums on ‘employee engagement’ to guide organisations as to the most effective approach to realise it, but no-one seems to have found the panacea as there are still many studies and treatise and blogs and forums on the topic! Obviously if it was that easy we would all be doing it; perhaps it is not as straightforward as we think. The 2010 Towers Watson Global Workforce Study reports that only one-fifth of employees are truly engaged in their work, i.e. they are fully engaged and would “go the extra mile” for their employer. The rest ranged from the disengaged (38%) to the indifferent (41%). Clearly this is an issue that needs to be addressed.

According to Management consultant and author Cindy Ventrice, for an employee, engagement comes down to feeling valued in the workplace, that their thoughts and opinions matter, and that there is opportunity for learning and advancement. Clear communication, personal development, respect and recognition from managers and peers alike are all important factors.

A recent Canadian study on employee engagement endorsed this view. When asked what organisation leaders could do more of to improve engagement, the respondents identified the following:

  • Listen to employees’ opinions (71%)
  • Communicate clear expectations (68%)
  • Give recognition and praise (58%)
  • Provide learning and development opportunities (57%)
  • Help find solutions to problems (39%)

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“To keep staff engaged, organizations need to give them the opportunity to use their skills, to be creative and, most of all, to be listened to.” Mark Fitzsimmons, president of Psychometrics Canada, March 2011.

This study also emphasised that it is the work environment and processes that drive engagement, and therefore employee engagement can only really be affected by the people with influence over these element: an organisation’s leaders. Good working relationship with management and an organisation’s leaders are vital to success but this may not be as effective in a process-centric organisation; what is needed to facilitate true employee engagement is a clear people-centric approach.

A people-centric approach will give employees greater control over their work and provide them with a better opportunity to share knowledge and ideas, driving innovation. ‘Management’ should be seen to be recognising their employees’ accomplishments and providing clear communication on the organisation’s strategy. Encouraging greater communication and transparency builds trust between employees and managers. In a people-centric world employees can contribute ideas without fear of being ‘wrong’ making them feel valued and part of something.

So, don’t be afraid, embrace the social nature of your business and initiate your people-centric strategy. Get your employees excited and making meaningful contributions. This will have a positive impact on your business and deliver real, measurable results . . . but that is a topic for another day.

Some comments about comments

A lot of buzz about this the last few days: it was just announced that Facebook will be allowing sites to start using its comments system instead of their own. What does this mean?

Well…

1) If you’re logged into Facebook, you can comment on any site that’s implemented Facebook comments without having to sign in again. Ok, that’s kind of cool.

2) Your comments on said site can be quickly posted to your Facebook wall, if you so choose. This is already available now, of course. But…

3) Because all this is tied together, your real identity will show on the website next to your comment. This includes your name, profile photo, and a link to your Facebook page. Hm. And…

4) Anyone who replies to your comment, whether on the public site or your Facebook page, will have their reply cross-posted automatically to the other medium. So if a friend replies on your Facebook wall, their comment will automatically show on the site you originally posted the comment to, and vice versa.

I don’t like this idea very much, and I’m not alone. Sure, this will cut down on spam and potentially insensitive/inappropriate comments from internet trolls, but that kind of stuff comes with the territory. If you want to be open, you need to be ready to moderate as needed. While this whole cross-posting/multi-channel/single-sign-in identity thing may sound cool, it’s really just good for Facebook and the sites they’re working with. More potential “likes”, shares, and distribution for content these sites are trying to push, and in turn Facebook gets to obtain even more information about you and target you based on sites you’re visiting.

Some sites including TechCrunch implemented Facebook comments as a test last week, and noted a reduction in spam/nasty comments, but also a reduction in the number of comments overall (see related reading below).

A lot of people are already skeptical about Facebook’s privacy and what they’re sharing with third parties. So I find it a little disturbing that I could comment on a friend’s wall post and have my words, profile information, photo, and the direct link to my page all displayed publicly without my knowledge. Presently when you’re commenting on Facebook, you’re ok with it because you know it’s a comment on Facebook. If this opens up, it has the potential to completely change the way people interact on social and public sites.

Steve Cheney (again, see related reading below), says it very plainly, and quite well: “Face it, authenticity goes way down when people know their 700 friends, grandma, and five ex-girlfriends are tuning in each time they post something on the Web.”

I can’t agree more. If you don’t know who’s going to see what you’re saying, or likewise, if you know that your true identity is going to be displayed in a public place next to what you’re saying and it’s going to be seen by a bunch of people you don’t know all over the world, you’re less likely to be open and say what you really want to.

Some people could say: “Well Yasean, if all this Facebook stuff bugs you so much, why keep using it? Just get rid of it.” I could do that, but I think the point many are trying to make is that we signed up for Facebook when it was a social network. You know, connect with friends, family, old acquaintances, etc. I love that part about Facebook and after so many years of being on it, extracting myself from that online network would be erasing a huge part of my everyday life (whoa). But it’s kind of scary because I see the company moving towards trying to monopolize the social web, which would create a paradox – as Steve says, “Facebook’s insistence that you have one identity across the Web is both short-sighted and asinine, and people I talk to are starting to realize this. Fact is, one social network will not rule the Web… People are simply way too social to allow that.”

Thoughts?

PS – some people aren’t aware of this, but Facebook doesn’t have you browsing securely by default. If you’re on Facebook and the URL shows “http” instead of “https”, you should switch your account preferences to browse securely by following the directions here. This was just rolled out in January 2011.

Related reading:

Steven Cheney/BusinessInsider — How Facebook is Killing Your Authenticity

Geoff Spick/CMSWire – Facebook Offers Its Comment System to Any Website