MARIA OGNEVA'S BLOG
Hello, and welcome to my blog and the digital home for my thoughts. Most know me as @themaria, my handle across most social media sites and communities. My actual, given name is Maria Ogneva, and I love writing, traveling, eating, and spending time with my new husband.
I am passionate about how social media is changing the way we communicate, help and relate to each other, share news and make the world a smaller, more hospitable place. I work at Salesforce as Director of Product Marketing on the Communities product, where my job is to help customers (and the world at large) to be successful in building communities. I learn every day, and I share my thoughts and personal growth here.
Please note that the views expressed here are my own, and do not reflect those of my employer or any of our clients.
This post was reposted from the Attensity blog for the purpose of retaining it as part of my blogging portfolio.
Here’s one resource you are probably not using to its 100% capacity: your employees. And I don’t mean it in the run-em-into-the-ground-work-around-the-clock kind of way. What I mean is that you are probably not leveraging their knowledge, their passion and enthusiasm or their social capital well enough. How do I know that? Because very few companies actually do this, and most of the rest do not really appreciate that their employees have a value above and beyond what they were hired to do. Think about it: with the advent of social media, your employees, as much as your customers, define your brand. If you even partially understand the impact that the social revolution has had on the way we do business and relate to each other as individuals, you certainly know that you no longer have control of your brand – your customers do (and that includes customers and non-customers as well). This reality has hit home for most; however, what hasn’t hit home with the same force, is the realization that your employees have just as much, if not more in some situations, impact on how your brand is perceived in social media. I’m not only referring to what employees are saying, but even more so what employees are not saying. Are your employees your own brand advocates? Are your employees effective in the frontlines working with customers to build a better product?
Recently, I’ve read some great articles by Mitch Lieberman and Michael Fauschette about the value of the social employee, and felt inspired to write about it here. Also, following on the heels of our Social Customer whitepaper, I wanted to explore this less-talked about aspect of the social business.
Chances are, even if you don’t have official social media practitioners in your organization, many of your employees are probably active in social media. Even if they aren’t, at some point, each employee that you hire will be from the Facebook generation. Why should you care? Because the low hanging fruit of creating social media buzz is tapping into our employees’ voices to tell the story of your brand. But you want the story to feel energized, right? That can only happen when your employees are energized and empowered. Employees have always been the face of your company, social media or not; just now they have a lot more touchpoints with the “outside world”. When people go to an event or a local bar, they meet employees that work at your company. If they are genuinely excited about what they do, it will show, and others will have a positive impression of your brand. However, the inverse is also true. If your employee is not happy about where she is, feels stifled and uncreative, the same energy will be transferred. With social media, each employee’s excitement (or lack thereof) has the opportunity to get amplified faster than you can say “amplify”. Excited employees share excitement with others; energy is contagious! So empower your employees to be these buzz agents and share what they do with others. Buzzing employees are just part of the equation though. Are your employees empowered to work with your customers to get feedback and implement it into product decisions, and to work with customers to create a product that actually works for them? Are the employees energized enough when providing customer service to turn a bad experience into a positive one? Are they empowered to resolve a customer issue on behalf of the company without going through five levels of approval?
Empowerment is one of those fuzzy concepts that makes some (including me) roll their eyes. Ugh, let’s just get it over with and sit around the fire, hold hands, and sing kumbaya. But bear with me… What in the world is empowerment and how do I know when I see it? I can’t tell you what it means to you, but here’s what it means to me: when someone is empowered, his interests become most closely aligned with the objectives of the whole (company, country); the empowered person can take actions in the best interests of the company, taking pride in work he does because he feels like she can effect change. Most importantly how do I cultivate empowerment in my employees? Here are some quick “gimmes” that are common-sense; however, keep in mind that common sense is anything but common:
As you explore how to socialize your business and empower your employees, here’s another great resource and yet another source of inspiration for this article. During the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston last week, I heard Bevin Hernandez‘s keynote speaking about employee engagement with a purpose among. She astutely developed the framework of employee engagement styles across 4 quadrants defined by 2 axis: Purpose and Engagement. Those with high purpose and high engagement – those are your social media rockstars. Those with high purpose and low engagement prefer to work on their own, but could use some encouragement sharing their work in social channels and with other employees. Those with high engagement and low purpose – the social butterflies – already use social channels, but they could use a little more direction. Low engagement and low purpose employees are a bit tougher to move to one of the other quadrants, but it could be done — otherwise, it’s probably not a great fit. Take a minute to check out Bevin’s slides – it will be 10 minutes well spent. This is a worthwhile exercise to undertake to understand how you can mentor and coach your employees to purpose-driven social media rockstardom.