Recently, I co-presented a short series on collaboration–what is it, where and how it is happening–case studies and finally how to make it happen. One of the challenges in maintaining a successful collaboration is participant engagement, getting them to speak up.
Engagement is challenging to create, sustain and measure. Yes, measuring is important because you want to have some idea of the benefits being derived from the time and effort employers have put into their investment in employees. Both collaboration and engagement has long been ignored in favor of offering incentives to individual employees by measuring their direct and tangible contributions to the bottom line. In the past few years, engagement offers both a competitive advantage and is central to customer retention. Clear evidence now qualifies the relationship between employee engagement and overall organizations’ performance. Engagement contributes to your your competitive position, can retain your customers; and improves efficiency along with other performance related measures.
Social media is of course all about engagement, right? Not exactly. I have found social media vehicles move an organization, or individual users, into some combination of four divergent directions: opportunity seeking or problem solving; relationship building or personal expression. Of course this is why engagement, absent goals, is difficult to measure
Take this wonderful post by Kris Dunn, who suggests that employee engagement is obvious and there’s no need to take a poll.
Well I don’t want to twist his message, but the IT fellow’s goal appears multifold. Not only does he want the distribution list to note the completion of software updates; but his creative personal expression encourages readership. He communicates a wider message about other changes in the organization, and manages to suggest IT’s great competence and value as inside information source and generator of key news about other ongoing organizational changes.
This post illustrates the benefits that can accrue when folks look beyond email to cross-communicate news or changes in their organization are many. Email is easy, but the message is often easily buried and goes unread. Today organizations that incorporate more of these simple and widely available alternatives, are finding communication fun and painless. If, an intranet is available in your organization, why not create a news-feature corner on the home page? Direct the community’s eyeballs not to your email message in their in-box, but to a designated sharing spot on the intranet IT and simultaneously avoid adding load to the email servers. Would the creative engagement still have emerged? Difficult to say, but this is why I believe in collaboration. The power of multiple people’s ideas working toward a shared goal offers opportunity for innovation, efficiency and a little fun.
Lesson learned by this writer? Give people opportunity to shine and innovate and you will be pleasantly surprised by the obvious engagement in what they do and reap additional benefits when creative expression and collaboration are nurtured. Any of you trying to start some cross organization news sharing? Odds are good that beyond the walls of your communications department, lies added creativity left untapped. Is anyone mining and monitoring your email traffic to uncover these gems, or given the freedom to create and promote new locations for sharing? I’d love to hear about them.