Nov 30, 2009

Building Employee Engagement leveraging Enterprise 2.0

The Story Until Now
(scenario 3 from here)
Over the last two decades LMN Corp has grown from a family owned business to a professionally run conglomerate with diverse interests in shipping, mining, IT, telecom and media. Growth has been robust as the diversifications have paid off.
Sumit Bangia, the 50 year old COO of the company, has been an old LMN hand. Over the last few years, Sumit has become increasingly concerned with the increasing turnover of younger workers. Sumit’s trusted HR Head, 35 year old Shalini Taneja, found out from exit interviews that recent recruits felt disconnected from the conglomerate and felt that they didn’t know how they fit into the big picture.
Sumit and Shalini decided that the key to retaining young recruits was to build an open organizational culture where young recruits could connect with each other and older mentors across levels and functions. It was also important that they felt empowered and encouraged to bring their whole self to work.
When Gautam met Sumit he said “I don’t think we need more increments and higher salaries or better designations to motivate our people. We’ve hired some great people over the last few years – if we can just make them connect with each other and discover their strengths and then get out of their way, I am sure they will take us to great heights… my question is how can I help help them to tap their full potential and connect with each other?”
Gautam tells Sumit “You have the right approach, however before jumping into an initiative like this you have to think through certain aspects”
“What are those?” Sumit asked, intrigued.
“The first thing is you have to understand such an initiative will mean disrupting existing power structures – are you sure you want to do that? Will the rest of the management team support this initiative?”
Sumit pondered on Gautam’s question “Maybe not, but I am prepared to push my way through – as this is what will enable us to break to the next level”
“You can’t push an initiative like this Sumit, it has to be owned by all the leadership.. however what you can influence is by leading the way – and influencing others to follow your lead. Let’s assume over all your objective is to increase the engagement of people with the organization and with each other, would that be right?” asked Gautam
“Yes true” agreed Sumit
“You need to build a community that will congregate around areas of work, levels and other areas of interest”
“You mean like a Facebook for the whole group?” Sumit asked.
“Well, it would look like that, and have rich features to encourage people to connect with each other – however there would be features that would encourage a mix of social and business interaction. What would really help this would be the softer aspects of the initiative”
“Such as…?”
“It would encourage people to connect with others, discover people across organizational silos, understand them beyond their roles as individuals – and trigger overall encouragement. It has been proven that having friends is a sign that people will be more engaged at work.”
“Of course, people like to work in a place that enables them to bring their whole selves at work”
“How do we know that people won’t just goof off? Keep chatting?”
“You’ve got to give them guidelines, Sumit. We can help you in evolving these guidelines. Many large organizations have such guidelines. However, you have to remember that the ‘how we use it’ will become a process when people realise that they have to work with people, not to do things to them. People like you and your senior team will be instrumental in creating that mindset – which is why we’ll have to collaborate with them extensively to make this a success.”