The rise of Enterprise Social Networks

As social media impacts our personal lives, it also affects us at work as well. It also offers opportunities for the workplace, particularly in larger organizations.

We see everyday what’s possible with social networks for improving customer engagement and experiences? Can the same be done with internal social networks for improving employee engagement and experiences?

In the many years of helping businesses align business objectives with social and new media strategies, there is one thing that always introduces difficulty into the equation, employee engagement. At some point in the development of any strategy, employee and stakeholder input is critical to ensure relevance and ultimately success. While social media may more often than not live in the marketing department, it affects the entire organization and as such, requires a centralized approach to leadership and management combined with a distributed platform for communication and learning.

Enterprise social networks (ESNs) are on the rise as they can deliver an immediate solution for aligning stakeholders around activity streams with the familiarity of Twitter or Facebook. These internal social networks are not only validating and useful to power users, but also friendly and easy to participate in for those who are new to the platform. While the promise of ESNs is significant to the future of how employees interact, learn, and ultimately work, challenges exist around adoption and overall measurement. And, like social media in general, businesses often underestimate or altogether miss the true potential of social networks and the role they play in bringing people together to do something incredible…over and over.

Read the whole article as it lays out the many benefits for connecting your team through an internal social network.

  

The importance of spotting talent

With the death of Steve Jobs, there will be countless articles covering his career, and many of us can learn a great deal from his success. We’ve already posted his advice to college graduates about finding what you love to do. Jobs was also an incredible innovator and manager, even if he was a tyrant at times.

If you’re a manager or you run your own business, this story might be helpful. It comes from a Fast Company article after Jobs stepped down as Apple’s CEO but published before his death.

Jobs had recently come back to the company after a 12-year hiatus working for two of his own startups: NeXT, which made ultra-high-end computers, and Pixar. He was taking a tour of Apple, becoming reacquainted with what the company had become since he’d left. It must have been a sobering, even ugly, sight–Apple was dying at the hands of Microsoft, IBM, Dell, and other competitors that were doing what Apple did, only cheaper and with faster processors.

In a dusty basement across the road from Apple’s main building, Jobs found a solitary designer who was ready to quit, languishing amid a stack of prototypes. Among them was a monolithic monitor with a teardrop swoop, which integrated all of a computer’s guts into a single package. And in that room, Jobs saw what middle managers did not. He saw the future. Almost immediately, he told the designer, Jonathan Ive, that from here on out they’d be working side by side on a new line of computers.

Jobs may not be the greatest technologist or engineer of his generation. But he is perhaps the greatest user of technology to ever live, and it was to Apple’s great fortune that he also happened to be the company’s founder.

Those computers that Ive and Jobs worked on became, of course, the iMac–a piece of hardware designed with an unprecedented user focus, all the way to the handle on top, which made it easy to pull out of the box. (“That’s the great thing about handles,” Ive told Fast Company in 1999. “You know what they’re used for.”) That single moment in the basement with Ive says a great deal about what made Jobs the most influential innovator of our time. It shows an ability to see a company from the outside, rather than inside as a line manager. He didn’t see the proto iMac as a liability or a curiosity. He saw something that was simply better than what had preceded it, and he was willing to bet on that instinct. That required an ability to think first and foremost as someone who lives with technology rather than produces it.

Jobs was always able to see opportunity and usable innovation that others could not see. He could also spot talent and put people in situations where they can thrive. The story of his visit to Xerox is legendary, as they had the graphical user interface and had no idea people would want it in their home computers.

You may not have a Jonathan Ive in your organization or revolutionary products sitting on a shelf, but you probably have some very talented people who are stuck in jobs that waste their talent. Take the time to know your team, and dig deeper than your immediate reports. Find the talent, let them work, and your company will have a better chance to thrive.

  

CIOs plan on increasing IT hiring

Here’s some more good news on the technology jobs front:

Technology executives expect information technology (IT) hiring to continue in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to the just-released Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report (http://rht.mediaroom.com/ITHiringIndex). In the latest quarterly survey, 12 percent of chief information officers (CIOs) said they plan to expand their IT departments, and 6 percent expect cutbacks, for a net 6 percent projected increase in hiring activity. This is up two points from the previous quarter’s projections.

The economy goes up and down, but if you have a degree in the technology area you have a good shot at being in demand throughout your career.

  

The emergence of leadership coaching for executives

Executive coaching is the hot new trend as companies try to maximize the performance of their management teams. Check out this article on coaching from Fortune and consider whether coaching is right for you or for someone on your team.

Once seen as a last-chance effort to turn around flagging careers, coaches for top talent are going mainstream. They’re being brought in for newly hired senior executives, as well as for newly promoted department heads who suddenly must manage many more people. “Leadership coaching is the hottest thing these days,” says Kate Wendleton, president of the Five O’Clock Club, which has turned some of its outplacement and career coaches into executive coaches because demand has been so strong.

According to a July 2011 American Management Association survey, almost half of participating companies use coaching to prepare individuals for a promotion or new role. While half of companies provide coaches to midlevel or senior staff only, 38% make them available to anyone. Coaching’s three most common uses, according to the AMA survey: leadership development, remedial performance improvement, and optimizing strong contributors. “A coach is like a personal trainer for business,” says Erika Andersen, author of Being Strategic and coach to many media executives.

Coaches can run $200 per hour or more, and work can be done face-to-face, on the phone or both.

  

Is the Economy Making Workers Healthier?

Could the economy really be making workers healthier? According to a CareerBuilder survey, you bet it is!  The survey says:

47 percent of workers report they have been packing a lunch more often to eat healthier or help save money. When it comes to smoking habits, 44 percent of workers who smoke said they are more likely to quit smoking given today’s economic conditions. In addition, one-in-five said that they have decreased the number of times they smoke during the workday (21 percent) or actually quit altogether (20 percent).

Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder, states that “Economic stress over the last year has caused some workers to reflect on their habits, and many of them have turned to healthier routines. In addition to helping cut personal costs, employees who limit their smoking and lunching out habits are taking better care of their overall health. This type of ‘better-for-you’ behavior can be encouraged by companies who implement wellness programs, healthy living challenges or smoking cessation support.”

The survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive© on behalf of CareerBuilder.com among 4,498 U.S. workers, age 18 and over, employed full-time—not self-employed, and non-government.

  

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