Wyzetalk is Workforce Engagement – it’s more than a software offering

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“….the attribute of trust is not pervasive in business. If an organisation has trust, it can create engagement. An engaged workforce provides happiness, profitability and longevity to business.”

For businesses to say they are about the ‘workforce’ is a huge statement to make. To elaborate on this,  ’employee engagement’ / ‘workforce engagement’ is a systemic and not a software solution offering.)

(Providers in the market place should be careful to advertise this unless they are capable of the complexity of the offering this unless you understand what you are saying. Its a systemic issue… it’s not about software.. it’s not a short term fix.

I have always been an entrepreneur, surrounding myself with people more capable than myself. I started a company when I was 24, it became a national operation, with 600 staff and over $ 50 million per annum turnover,  which I sold in 2008. It was predicated, in its structure, on command and control, hierarchical and siloed… by design…

At this juncture in my career I decided to take on a more personal journey by enrolling in an Executive MBA at UCT founded my Professor Tom Ryan. A challenging and positive, life-changing event. It opened the doors of systems thinking for me.

I wrote my dissertation on collaboration in the enterprise… the paper assumed that the attribute of trust existed in business. My partner and I started Wyzetalk in 2012. Wyzetalk, has grown into a unique, diverse international business, forming alliances with top national brands and consultancies – a world class product with world class partners.

We have realised that the attribute of trust is not pervasive in business. If an organisation has trust, it can create engagement. An engaged workforce provides happiness, profitability and longevity to business.

We have spent the last few years trying to understand how to build a connected workforce. How to build true engagement. How to build trust.

The Wyzetalk team understands that the enterprise is typically on the far right side of a room and the workforce, typically, is on the far left side of the room.

Our software builds the railway that links the two but its the content, the understanding and the authenticity that we curate that is built on that railway that builds trust over time.

Doing surveys to groups, giving them vouchers or rewards for their contribution creates possible short term gain but it’s  not a long term solution. Don’t be shallow, don’t be a fad.

We are not in the business of short term gain. We are here to create true workforce engagement. We want to bring the enterprise and its workforce together. Build a tribal culture that’s transparent, genuine and long-term, goal-oriented.

We love what we do and we want to evolve with our clients to make this a reality.

We recently held a breakfast for the mining industry. We were honoured to have Dr. James Motlatse and professor Tom Ryan present. This is the link: http://www.moneyweb.co.za/news/south-africa/messy-wage-negotiations-are-avoidable/

It takes the view that businesses need to become empathetic. It’s about the hands that do the work, but it’s about the mind and the heart of the workforce that matter as much.

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collaboration is all good and well but you won’t get there with disengaged people

It’s been a while since my last blog. The last several months have been spent trying to more deeply understand the concept of collaboration. When one speaks of collaboration we assume that the employees are actually engaged, that workforces are engaged. That’s one hell of an assumption considering that up to 83% of businesses globally have a disengaged workforce. There is just no way that you can create a collaborative or innovative environment if your own people feel disengaged and undervalued.

So what do you need to have an engaged workforce? That lies with the psychological contract. Rousseau’s definition (1995) is “The psychological contract is individual beliefs, shaped by the organisation, regarding terms of an exchange arrangement between the individual and their organisation.” In essence and at a very basic level its attributes include trust, communication  and transparency but it also goes deeper. The strong presence of the psychological contract within businesses is closely correlated with positive employee engagement.

Take a look at the diagram below from Robinson (2004)

Screenshot 2015-05-19 19.18.45

Here’s another view from Penna (2007)

Screenshot 2015-05-19 19.22.06

Maybe what organisations need to do first is focus on fulfilling the psychological contract through meaningful employee engagement?

At the absolute base, this starts with identifying each persons strengths, make sure they are the right fit for their job, surround them with great managers and management, share strategy, have transparent accountability and performance matrices, fluid communication and continued employee development.

If all of this gets done your business will reach sustainable growth, real profit increases and overall increases in Total Shareholder Returns. In fact a study by Hewitt (2005) after a four year study concluded that TSR in highly engaged organisations could be as high as +20,2%, Moderately engaged organisations were +5,6% and poorly engaged -9,6%…

I just don’t think this can continue to be ignored. I think that its time for businesses to really plan to engage with their people. Imagine what you could achieve?

Gys is the CEO and Co-founder of Wyzetalk. Wyzetalk is the leading Enterprise Social Network and Workforce engagement platform in Africa.
Gys is a student of systems thinking and has a masters degree in systems. He has an internationally accredited paper on “The effect of social business software in the enterprise and its effects”

How Social Business Software connects and enables distributed teams

In today’s operating environment the ability to bring dispersed teams together is becoming a critical business advantage.

Teams (focused on, for example, software development or support) often operate from scattered locations, their collaboration fittingly facilitated by technology. It is a time-honoured and cost-effective way of sourcing the best talent and input without having to hire for every new requirement or delay development due to a lack of available skills.

A jumble of bug and ticket tracking, communication and collaboration tools supports the intense interactions and vital outcomes of such teams. But do these tools represent the best technology has to offer?

Missing context

In short, they don’t.

While these tools do a great job of connecting teams and managing the flows and processes of projects and tasks, their ‘softer’ shortcomings are apparent in a virtual setting. Essentially, they do not offer a means to replicate the rich collaboration and knowledge transfer that naturally happens in teams that are physically close.

This problem can be overcome by using social business software (SBS) to augment the interactions of technology teams.

How does SBS help?

SBS tools use social media concepts such as newsfeeds, focus groups and messaging to facilitate conversations on topics of shared interest in organisational communities, thus bringing the ambience of physically close teams to virtual teams.

As one would share food, health, travel and shopping discoveries on social media, so developers like to talk shop in a social sphere. Leading SBS tools make it easy to share, document and manage approaches, methods and discoveries, thereby enriching collaboration and knowledge transfer and supporting hard project, or support, deliverables.

By comparison, tools that have a familiar place in the tech department, such as Jira and Basecamp, are highly structured — a digital checklist.

They set out the necessary workflows and ticket items that allow teams to keep track of software project deliverables, but do little to capture and use high-value learnings from conversations, such as fault-finding and trouble-shooting, reflection, user-feedback and retained learning which naturally occur within a development environment.

Talk AND action

This doesn’t mean that SBS is all talk and no action. Conversations can be both structured and spontaneous, and it’s easy to separate the two as important threads naturally prevail. Incorporation of hashtags and @ signs further allow for easy trends analysis and the search of conversations.

Another problem with using only traditional project tools is the limited scope given to users. Tickets are assigned to a limited number of people, which puts the talents of others out of range when seeking solutions to problems.

SBS tools, by contrast, allow questions to be put to a broader audience. It has often been our experience that someone in an organisation comes up with a breakthrough idea without being personally involved in a project.

SBS tools are also immensely useful with ‘on-boarding’ new team members, whether they are new recruits, temporary consultants or on secondment from within the company. A new member can easily go into conversation histories to check team members and their remits, contributions over time and a lot of other facets affording insight into how the team operates.

Someone who inherits an empty email inbox does not have quite the same advantage. (Nor does a ticket-based system give one the opportunity to delve into learnings as and when needed. Induction programmes would do well to adopt SBS as a means to access materials long forgotten as they become relevant to the new recruit again.)

Virtual organisations

These benefits are equally valid for tech teams within and outside organisations, for example working on open source, bespoke or community-based projects.

Perhaps counter-intuitively, even entire technology development firms can benefit from SBS as a business enabler combining onsite and remote working from different locations.

This kind of working arrangement can continue where necessary, not as a defining configuration, but as one that lends flexibility and speed to market responses. This sort of power and flexibility will find resonance with almost any organisation or association of individuals.

The rise of the Chief Collaboration Officer

Already a fixture in leading global companies that have embedded open innovation into their processes, the Chief Collaboration Officer (CCO) is a vital resource that all forward-thinking companies must invest in.

As businesses become more social and begin to open up new communication and collaboration channels, age old business processes and functions are radically being reengineered. As a result, and in order to tap into the collective brainpower of organisational stakeholders to open innovation and drive growth, someone has to run with it and that person is the CCO.

Why do we need a CCO?
The need for a CCO and support staff is especially pronounced at the outset of Social Business Software (SBS) adoption. Without training, SBS tends to spread through the enterprise like wildfire, but often ends up being used for ‘water cooler chats’ rather than its ability to rewire the organisation for productive collaboration and communication.

Establishing a CCO department goes beyond enthusiastic uptake, it can ensure that targeted groups are formed to serve tactical (project-based) and strategic purposes, and that they are maintained and fully utilised – putting the gains of a fully-functioning SBS implementation to work.

Any innovation or revelation harvested from SBS conversations could lead to the business making process improvements, advancing a strategy or embarking on a new direction. These must be highlighted to the proper entity to internalise, adopt and action as well as measure it. In other words, the influence of a CCO and support staff is most pronounced at the start but felt throughout the process, when social collaboration, communication and innovation have yet to be institutionalised. Without that guiding hand, it would be like trying to control the use of Facebook in the organisation.

The CCO will also constantly ensure alignment of SBS activities with strategic objectives, thus fuelling renewed energy in the business, encouraging a far more proactive approach to communication, and ensuring process transparency. In short, a CCO is charged with creating an open, connected business culture.

Who’d make a good CCO?
It is clear that a CCO is a catalyst for change but we’ve never had CCOs, and CCO courses aren’t yet taught in institutions of higher learning. So how do you know if someone is qualified to do the job?

Like any change management process, the job takes effort and drive to deliver the success that social business software is known for, and to instil a new way of doing things. In my view, senior professionals with a competency in technology, communications or marketing, coupled with a strong operational sense of the business, should find themselves in the running for a leadership position in your fledgling CCO department.

However to transform the organisation into an innovation powerhouse, the position of CCO is a board-level post. They must be able to develop and drive the execution of an enterprise social strategy, train and guide the team supporting social collaboration, monitor and measure social activities to achieve business and programme objectives. All this while working effectively across the organisation and liaising directly with C-level executives, strategists, market development and insight, brand development, communications, IT and Web teams.

One size does not fit all – but the promise of integrating the enterprise has unlimited potential continues Kappers. What is interesting is how few companies have actually embraced the idea and gone on to create a CCO role so it will be fascinating to see how the different roles play out over time and in different industries, as companies’ strategies mature.

There are great and diverse collaboration technologies out there today and collaboration itself has become increasingly important to businesses and as they find themselves increasingly surrounded with the ‘social-ness’ that the changing business environment demands, having a C-Suite executive that brings it all together to access the truly transformative possibilities of SBS and deliver results will become critical. Welcome to the team CCO.

Gys Kappers is the Co-founder and CEO of Wyzetalk, Africa’s leading Social Business Software Platform. Gys’s Masters thesis on ‘the delay of social business software adoption in the enterprise and its effects” have won him international acclaim.

Innovation and the Importance of Culture

Why is it that 80% of business leaders feel that innovation is vital to survival yet only 4% feel that they are doing anything about it?

Organisations and their leadership teams typically view innovation at another level… something abstract. Imagine viewing it as a ‘what to do?’; how can we, as an organisation, behave differently?

Too often executives may think that they are coming up with really good and novel ideas – where in fact they are simply variations on an old theme. Whenever one comes to a make an important management decision it is imperative that considerable attention in given to defining the problem correctly.

The rapid change in the business environment brought about by technological innovation, socio-cultural development, economic fluctuations and other factors means that there needs to be an overall understanding of what is going on.

Decision-making and problem solving both rely on the supply of information in order to make logical choices. Oftentimes defining the problem itself and coming up with ideas that represent viable alternatives for consideration pose considerable difficulties. This leads me to suggest that leaders need to foster a culture of Divergent Thinking.

During our consultations and during our implementations of Social Business Software within organizations, we typically see a number of standout issues:

  • Organisations, on the whole, are terrible and communicating;
  • People compete rather than co-operate with each other;
  • People fail to work as cross-functional teams preferring to stay in organisational silos;
  • Meetings are unproductive and lack any formal innovation programmes and techniques;
  • Organisations, typically, are unwilling to consider external and fresh perspectives.

If you believe that there is a fresh way to look at things, that real change can and will lead to more innovations within your businesses through the implementation of Social Business Software then consider doing the following:

  • Institute an innovation programme that is framed as part of a marketing plan or a corporate strategy;
  • Implement a reward system for innovation;
  • Create a budget for innovation to build an ecosystem that drives creative problem solving;
  • Seek ideas from outside the organisation through the creation of external Social Business Communities that engages your customers and suppliers;
  • Getting the leadership teams to clarify the mission, vision, core purposes and core values to the enterprise on the Social Business Software Platform;
  • The leadership teams need to communicate frequently with the rest of the enterprise;
  • Share skills and knowledge within the Social Business community.
  • Make meetings more productive:
    • Meetings are necessary and if done properly can be productive and energetic. By having discussions through event creations on a social business software platform, one gets to be more prepared.
    • You get to set goals and make decisions
    • Start and finish on time
    • Introduce a disciplined approach and keep to it.

Gys is the Co-founder and CEO of WyseTalk (Pty) Ltd. Africa’s leading social business software platform. Gys’s Masters thesis entitled ‘The delay of Social business Software in the Enterprise and its effects’ has won him international acclaim.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enterprise Social Network Trends 2014

Welcome to 2014 and my first blog of the year. I thought I would start by writing a short piece on my predictions for 2014.

Bring your own device (BYOD) will become integrated fully within the Enterprise Social Network (ESN) ecosystems and will become mainstream.

With this, smaller, real time networks will explode. ESN will allow information to be shared amongst employees and its customers.

The asynchronisation of mobile and ESN will enhance collaboration to increased levels of shared knowledge. If coupled with open innovation, organisations can significantly enhance their performance. The top ESN platforms allow for seamless integration with existing internal systems as well as external social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIN.

By aligning the analytics and statistics from existing systems with social networks through the top level ESN platforms organisations are enabled to apply these learnings, take real action, solve problems and predict trends.

gys is the co-founder and CEO of Wyzetalk, Africa’s leading Social business software platform. His 2012 masters thesis on: ‘the delay of social business software adoption in the enterprise and its effects’ have received global acclaim.

Generation Y and the effect on the enterprise

Generation Y has been the subject of many workplace studies. Ys are criticised for being overly conscious of their value to the organisation and “too precious” about the myriad career choices open to them. On the other hand, they have also justly been credited with driving much of today’s technology-led innovation.

This is in large part due to their prodigious consumption of information — and equally prolific record of contributing to knowledge — both as innovators in their own right and in their preference for open, collaborative new ways of communicating, which tends to spur innovation.

Good thing
Thus it would seem that a workforce of young turks who question and try out everything can be a very good thing. And indeed my research and experience of such work environments bears this out. In reality, however, a complex array of factors comes into play when young blood enters the system. Mirroring the good and bad of Gen Y-ers themselves, their impact tends to be both energising and stressful.

In this context, organisations can use social business software (SBS) very effectively to mitigate the impacts of generational renewal while managing a positively balanced outcome – characterised by open innovation on the one hand and a robust security posture on the other.

Tale of two (inverse) cycles
The impact of upping your Gen-Y staff component works in two opposite cycles:

Cycle 1 — restricting
As organisations increase their Gen Y staff component, a generation gap may open up. Different behaviours, communication approaches and viewpoints separate older generations and Generation Y-ers, with the latter group generally exposed to a vastly bigger array of media and educational opportunities, as well as a more global formative environment.

New hires often experience difficulty in dealing with older generations. With the latter group markedly less open to accepting others, trust levels in the organisation tend to drop.

The very presence of Y-ers in the enterprise can further be considered major change, as they bring with them a greater reliance on technology and open communication, and a quick but non-linear style of processing information. This invariably leads to a stricter information security stance, which in turn necessitates adaptation of enterprise risk management policy frameworks, to protect social systems from unauthorised, unanticipated or unintentional modification.

Ultimately, this puts a dampener on the zeal and dynamism of the Gen Y mind-set of an organisation and minimises their positive contribution.

Cycle 2 — balancing
But the new generation’s affinity for technology tends to work in the opposite direction too, allowing Gen Y-ers to come into their own and make a self-reinforcing contribution to their organisations. It starts in this way: as organisations increase their Gen Y component, they often experience an increase in the adoption of SBS. By way of elucidation, it must be noted that social media can be organised into four categories – communication, collaboration, multimedia and edutainment platforms. This means organisations will often in such cases see improved collaboration and communication, increased efficiencies, and project savings.

This generally leads to heightened levels of open innovation, allowing organisations to maximise their knowledge resources by extending collaboration to partners outside the confines of enterprise boundaries.

Ultimately, the use of both internal and external capabilities in solving problems or creating new products, assets or channels greatly improve organisations’ competitive standing and chances of survival.

Resolving the conflict
In effect, it is a virtuous cycle that ends (and begins) with an increase in the Gen-Y mindset in the organisation. The positive cycle succeeds in balancing out the negative one, but it is SBS that stands central to organisations’ ability to turn mutually destructive forces into positive, self-reinforcing change.

As companies try to cope with new markets, technologies, attitudes and behaviours, SBS is their best chance to embrace change and rally a new generation of millennials to ensure their continued success.

Gys is the Co-founder and CEO of WyseTalk (Pty) Ltd. Africa’s leading social business software platform. Gys’s Masters thesis entitled ‘The delay of Social business Software in the Enterprise and its effects’ has won him international acclaim.

This article was first published in the memeburn.com site:

http://memeburn.com/2013/10/social-media-can-seriously-unlock-the-value-of-gen-y-employees-heres-how/