10 ways social media can support change management


Solar - Change Management

As social media platforms increasingly dominate communications in private lives, businesses are adopting them for the workplace. Although it is difficult to quantify how many companies use internal social media platforms, a number of corporate software companies have sensed the opportunity and offer various systems.

But are these social media applications and technologies ready for an even greater challenge – supporting companies successfully navigate major business change programs?

Companies struggle to be successful with such initiatives. According to numerous studies, anywhere from 60 percent to 80 percent of change programs do not live up to expectations.

Social media tools can reduce the time an organization needs to navigate change programs and deliver a better change experience from the employee’s perspective – this, in turn, builds a foundation for employees to be more continuously change capable in the future.

Social media can be an important addition to a traditional change management program, one that can dramatically increase the acceptance of change and advance an organization more predictably toward its business goals.

Improving employee involvement and engagement

One of the critical success factors for managing change programs is engaging employees in the change – helping them to feel ownership in the initiative and tapping into their energy to resolve issues and advance the business.

Social media solutions allow information to flow in multiple directions rather than just from the top down. For example, using microblogs applications for sharing short bursts of information in Twitter-like fashion – organizations can “crowd-source” ideas and involve employees more directly in the change program. Organizations can build greater internal loyalty by actively soliciting continuous feedback on issues related to the change.

Building a collaborative culture

Executives know that achieving success at major business transformation requires more than simply telling everyone about the new ways things are going to be done. Acceptance of change – processes, services, working relationships, policies and more -can be accelerated across the organization through the real-time sharing of experiences. Social networking and collaboration applications are extremely effective ways of bringing employees together to perform new processes and to share experiences – both the successes and the temporary setbacks. People with common interests or related roles can form communities to learn from and support one another.

Social media can also help in cases where creating a more collaborative culture is one of the major objectives of the change initiative.

Idea generation

Ideas can come from all parts of a company. Small changes or transformational shifts in thinking can be found right in your own backyards. What often keeps those ideas hidden, however, is the lack of a mechanism to share them, and the sense of permission to do so.

Social technologies or simple suggestion boxes in the form of blogs or message boards with comments – can provide ample opportunities to share, generate, and build on ideas in a collaborative, open format that has visibility across the organization.

Establishing more effective two-way communication

Social media tools provide an effective communications medium – for the core change program teams and across the organization as a whole as change initiative proceeds. In addition, by monitoring and participating in online discussions, managers can more readily see where any misunderstandings or “pain points” exist across the enterprise and take steps to address them.

Management must establish a mechanism for delivering the “voice of truth”- an authoritative, trusted and believable source of information. This reinforces the idea that social media can be used by employees not only to voice ideas and concerns but also to get accurate and credible answers regarding the company’s change effort.

Storytelling

There’s nothing new about storytelling. Long before we had books and newspapers, telephones and telegraphs and the internet and our ancestor’s sat around the fire and told stories. More than storytellers, we’re story consumers. Storytelling can be a powerful tool when you want to drive organizational change. Social media tools provide an effective medium to tell the story’s.

Creating more engaging learning experiences

Social media applications can be extremely effective ways to deliver personalized learning experiences related to a change initiative, not just general broadcasts of information. Organizations can use these collaboration platforms in a variety of ways to encourage effective workforce enablement, including:

  • Live web meetings and telepresence solutions that bring together dispersed teams for a common learning experience.
  • User-generated content platforms such as YouTube, which allow staff members to provide short video or audio training segments relevant to the change program.

Sharing current practices through a knowledge network

“Learning” refers to more than just the formal offerings that are designed and delivered from a central group. Also critical are the knowledge networks that can be formed quickly using applications such as Twitter, Yammer and Facebook. These networks can help employees get information about processes or technologies, share innovative practices and receive answers in timely ways.

Internal branding

Companies sometimes do a weak job of translating their brand internally, and social strategies can improve that. Internal social networks can encourage broader discussion of company goals, purpose, and vision, and can allow those conversations to happen within levels and across silos in the company – instead of the typical top-down approach.

Employees and team members can gain a greater understanding of larger company strategy through information sharing and dialogue, and executive and management teams can garner feedback and input on the brand and its presentation from the point of view of the workforce. Broader understanding of company purpose can often uncover better and more effective ways for departments and teams to work together toward common goals.

Assessing progress more regularly and effectively

How do organizations know whether they are making progress on change program from an employee perspective? Enterprises sometimes have difficulty measuring progress, but social media applications can help by providing near real-time feedback about how well a program is going. Assessments can be supported in at least two ways

  • By providing a platform for nearly instantaneous survey-based feedback, which can supplement more comprehensive measurement exercises
  • By conducting facilitated online feedback sessions. With social media tools, decision makers have timely information about employees’ understanding and acceptance of the change program

Cultural assessment

Social media adoption and implementation in companies is often more of a cultural shift than an operational one. It touches on issues of role and responsibility change, skills evolution, communication style, risk tolerance, and trust that have sometimes rested very comfortably inside an organization for some time.

Leading with social media internally can highlight some of the potential cultural shifts and obstacles that might impede broader strategies. Whether it’s fears over criticism, uncertainty over productivity issues, or breakdowns in communication or information flow inside the company, setting up social media tactics on the inside can bring them to the forefront and increase the likelihood that you can address them within your walls first.

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