Your 2015 Business Goals: Add “Social” to the List
By: Judy Robinett, author of How to Be a Power Connector: The 5+50+100 Rule for Turning Your Business Network into Profits (McGraw-Hill, 2014)
Imagine that it’s December 31, 2015, and you’re looking back over your business goals for the past year. What produced the greatest success in your business? What were your biggest challenges? And what made the difference between challenge and success?
As someone who specializes in helping people develop strategic professional relationships, I believe that in 2015 one of the biggest factors in achieving business goals, as well as one of its greatest challenges, will be the way your company handles “social,” which I define as the aspect of your business devoted to creating, fostering, and analyzing relationships.
These relationships are between your company and its customers, of course. Developing higher-quality relationships within a company -- and between its employees at every level --- is even more important to its success.
Here are four reasons to make “social” a priority in 2015 that will help you formulate your social media strategy.
1) According to a 2013 SHRM study, relationships with co-workers were more important for employee engagement than their relationships with an immediate supervisor. “Employees with a best friend at work tend to be more focused, more passionate, and more loyal to their organizations. They get sick less often, suffer fewer accidents, and change jobs less frequently,” writes psychologist Ron Friedman.
2) The ability to create strong networks across departments, functions -- even across countries -- has been shown to be a trait of top performers at work. Individuals who were rated as top performers (who were in the top 20% by their company’s HR) were more likely to:
- Value networks
- Create quality relationships with others
- Invest in relationships that extend their expertise
- Position themselves as “hubs” between different groups (see below)
- Leverage their network to help them with plans and projects.
3) In today’s global business workplace, more and more work is done by contractors, outside consultants, and offshore workers who often have minimal ties to the company. That makes it more vital than ever to build strong workplace relationships across all categories through increased business communications and collaboration.
Such relationships can be an efficient and effective means to share knowledge, practices, expectations, and company culture throughout a diverse and diversified workforce.
4) Workers today (especially Millennials, who now make up the biggest group of workers worldwide) are accustomed to networking via social media 24/7. Forward-looking companies are seeking ways to use this increasing dependence on social networking as conduits for closer relationships, greater community, more transparency, and easier dissemination of information across the organization.
As you implement your strategic planning for 2015, consider how you can create stronger strategic relationships and a better employee experience using these “social” elements:
• Map the informal networks in your organization to identify how work really gets done. Every organization includes informal networks: groups of workers who use their relationships to help them better accomplish their tasks.
Identifying the key players (“hubs” or “brokers”) in these informal networks will help improve the transfer of knowledge within your company and new hire onboarding.
• Utilize your company networks for transmission of knowledge, skills, and culture. Insurance company Marsh, Inc. created a peer-to-peer learning experience on an internal social network. It offered user-generated content that helped to connect individuals and encourage creation of groups for learning and collaboration.
This kind of informal knowledge can be shared through blogs, wikis, posts, links to industry information and external experts, and so on. Such networks create “frontline” experience that is more engaging than more formal training, and enables employees to share their skill sets across divisions. It also enables management to identify potential team members who meet requirements for specific projects.
• Leverage your employees’ networks to expand the reach of your company. Every employee brings a personal and professional network to your company. These networks -- as well as the networks of past employees -- can be tremendous assets if utilized correctly.
Your employees’ friends, families, and professional associates can be sources of important customer and industry information if you choose to reach out to them via social media.
• Make clear that strong and diverse relationships are a company priority. Do you encourage socializing outside of work hours through planned gatherings, volunteering opportunities, sponsored sporting events, and so on? Do your managers assemble teams that cross departments, divisions, and demographics? Do you have a process in place to help new hires integrate into the workplace? What type of company-wide social media avenues is available to your workers, including internal or external social networks?
And what about you? How wide and strong is your own network within the company? Are you an example of the value the company places on interpersonal relationships?
Using social technologies, as well as good, old-fashioned, face-to-face connections will help make your employees happier and more engaged in 2015, and create the kind of business success to make you and your company prosperous -- and proud.
Judy Robinett is known as "the woman with the titanium digital Rolodex." One of the nation's leading experts on helping leaders develop strategic business relationships, she is the author of How to Be a Power Connector: The 5+50+100 Rule for Turning Your Business Network into Profits (McGraw-Hill, 2014).