22/10/2012

Johan Zetterstrom, CEO of projectplace.com

The use of social media in business is more common than ever, but most companies are using these channels to communicate externally and are missing out on the powerful potential of social media in the workplace. According to a new study by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), twice as much potential value lies in using social tools to enhance communications, knowledge sharing, and collaboration within and across enterprises than in using social technologies to reach consumers and gathering insights for product development, marketing, and customer service.

The MGI study found that by fully implementing social technologies, a strategy that is becoming known as becoming a Social Business, companies have an opportunity to raise the productivity of interaction workers–high-skill knowledge workers, including managers and professionals–by 20 to 25 percent. To get the most value out of social tools in your workplace, look for enterprise-ready social collaboration technology that leverages the most productive applications of social media for business use.

Here are five ways becoming a Social Business can improve productivity in your workplace:

1. Communication

Opening up internal communication using social tools leads to the same benefits as when people work closely together physically. It encourages conversation anddialogue andenables team members to easily pick up on a conversation directed towards someone else and offer a suggestion, solution or resource. This type of unplanned communication enables employees to stay informed of what their colleagues are doing, encourages them to take initiative and gives them a sense that they are part of the bigger picture.

2. Engagement

Social tools encourage an organisational structure that is less hierarchical and has fewer layers of intervening management. As opposed to a top-down organisational structure that can be restrictive and hamper creativity, social media empowers individuals to broadcast their opinions and thoughts to the world using blogs and social networks. Applied to business, a flat model encourages all team members to contribute ideas and perspectives and empowers them to get involved in the decision-making process. By elevating the responsibility of all team members, employees are able to take initiative and are more invested in seeing the company succeed.

3. Motivation

It is a well-known fact that the best way to change behaviour is through positive reinforcement of desired behaviour. This is why there is no “unlike” button in Facebook. Why does it work? Positive and unexpected feedback releases dopamine into our brains and makes us feel good. It creates trust and reduces defensive behaviour. Encouraging positive reinforcement in the workplace by integrating social tools is a simple yet powerful way to make your employees perform better.

4. Transparency

One of the biggest barriers to efficiency when team members are working in different locations is that they can’t see what others are doing. When team members lack of visibility into their colleagues’ work, communication suffers. As a result, common problems include duplication of work, uninformed decisions and breakdown of trust. Social media is inherently transparent and can have a powerful impact on the flow of information within an organisation.Because social tools encourage transparency and openness, everyone will know quickly who has what information and who they need to contact to get a clear answer. It can also reduce the likelihood of important information being held at critical moments by only a single team member.

5. Innovation

Innovation research has proven that new ideas require social encounters to flourish. A new influence makes the brain’s neurons fire synapses in new ways and sharing the idea adds the new insights and creates more stakeholders in making the idea become a reality. A key component in innovative companies is something called “information leakage”. The most innovative companies don’t shelter information within closed-off units and instead create an environment where sharing ideas and information is a key success factor. Social tools encourage employees to talk and share, to build on the ideas or others and to ask the questions that may lead to your company’s next great innovation.