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.

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”

Getting from Social Business to Open Innovation.

So you’re using your Social Business Software platform to generate new ideas, everyone’s generally engaged and you have a sense that the mood is improving and communication is up. But what about the ideas that are being generated? When an idea is posted within your community, is there a process to determine which ideas are good, bad, worth taking further, as far as perhaps being called innovative innovations. How do you take these ideas through the full cycle to the point of delivering them them back to the business. How does this delivery take place?

Here’s the three letter “I” challenge –

Ideation;

Invigoration; and

Implementation

Most organisations are not geared for innovation. So while you’re creating your Social Business Software strategy and implementation plan, you need to understand that you are actually changing it, changing your business, altering your future, shifting your paradigm and acknowledging the power in your people. It’s called open innovation.

Too much emphasis is being placed on generating ideas (ideation) and far too little time is spent on the actual translation into action and then the implementation and execution of these ideas.

So I propose a change from the conventional innovation equation of:

innovation = ideas

to:

innovation = ideas + planning + implementation + recognition

If you have invested in a social business strategy and platform with a view to improving innovation then this is how you need to go about ensuring you achieve your objectives:

  1. Create an environment where you can stimulate ideas. Let the SBS platform automatically trigger these conversations and put SBS champions in charge of driving this process;
  2. Create an open ideation group within your SBS Community. So that everyone is encouraged to participate and build on each other’s ideas;
  3. Get the champions to meet (virtually and in person), to discuss the ideas posted in the ideation and other groups. Empower them to take decisions on which ideas to take further and encourage them to give feedback. Be dynamic and be engaged. This is not intended to be another hierarchy;
  4. Great ideas need to get the green light. They need to have actions plans with timelines behind them to ensure they get successfully implemented. And the initiator needs to be acknowledged and encouraged to be part of the success team responsible for the implementation;
  5. The mandate given to the idea committee and the ideator gives them ownership of the success;  and
  6. Create an incentive scheme for great ideas. This can be done through senior management recognition, monetary rewards or both. These schemes can be done weekly, monthly or when projects are completed.

You have to work on a small win methodology… take small wins and let them become big wins over time.

It’s powerful stuff… this social business thing!

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.

The Multidimensional Organisation

Corporations today are in a rapidly changing and increasingly complex environment, they reorganise frequently. In fact, some appear to reorganise continuously. This reorganisation consumes a great deal of time, energy, money and lets not forget morale. The latter, the fear of layoffs is very unsettling and often leads to a marked decrease in productivity and quality of output across the enterprise. In this kind of environment innovation comes to a halt and executives and leadership typically view this as too risky.

When organisations are in this state, the stable state, they are like a coiled spring, their resistance to change tends to be proportional to the effort to change them; the more turbulent the environment, the more stability they seek.

Imagine though, for a moment, that you take the view that your organisation, in these times you should choose to be dynamic. Imagine you could adapt to change without reorganisation, without reorganisation, with less disruptive interventions, then the resistance to change would be significanlty reduced and you would have a more motivated, more productive workforce. This is the multidimensional organisation.

Most organisations are a division of labour. There are typically three; starting with functionally defined units whose outputs are principally consumed or used internally, for example, purchasing, finance, operations, legal, personnel and R&D. As such the organisational chart has a horizontal dimension which shows how labour is divided at each level, that is, how responsibility is allocated. The vertical dimension shows how labour at different levels is coordinated and integrated, that is, how authority is allocated. Typically they are designed from the top down, beginning with the CEO and sometimes a COO. At each successively lower level labour is divided again with one more criteria used at each level. The higher the level of criterion is used, the more importance is attributed to it.

Product or service defined units (its products) the outputs of which are principally consumed by the public such as soft drinks, entertainment and plastic containers for example.

The third and final part of the organisational unit is the market, or user defined units, which are defined by external customers to whom the organisation tries to sell its product. Here the organisations customers are defined by geography or definitions (ultimate consumer, retailers and wholesalers).

By bringing Social Business Software (SBS) into an organisations equation the functional dynamism of the organisation can be fully harnessed. By bringing and entire enterprise across the organisational spectrum together they can, through collaboration move from one needed state to another. For example, should an organisation be experiencing product issues, the enterprise can swarm and assist the product or service defined units into resolving issues and solving problems. Should the enterprise be experiencing consumer related issues, the enterprise could swarm to assist the market, or user defined units into solving problems.

Social Business Software (SBS) breaks down the hierarchies and silos that are prevalent in many organisations today. The overarching methodology is that organisations that deploy SBS successfully become more competitive, more innovative and more successful than their competitors.

Recent statistics reported by McKinsey have the following to say about businesses that have deployed SBS: 79% increase in ideas and innovations for the enterprise leading to a 13% increase in sales revenue leading to a 3-5% increase in overall deal size and bottom line improvement.

By believing that your workforce has a substantial brain capacity and that it is largely untapped leaves many organisations with a great capacity to innovate.

How Social Business Software (SBS) captures and integrates end user knowledge into improved business knowledge

Dynamic and Highly adaptable organizations today have been blurring the lines between strategic decision and operations. Here employees are generally expected to understand the organizations goals and strategies. Due to the pace of change businesses have to react, change and adapt these strategic goals frequently and do so rapidly.

If employees understand the visions and strategies and are in a well-designed social business software framework they can assist organizations achieve these goals.

Social Business Software aims to capture end-user tacit knowledge and integrate it within the existing knowledge of the business process models therefore forming a decentralized knowledge management framework. Thus the business processes that are designed are done with the participation of the organisational community aligned with the businesses strategic goals. Hence knowledge management through the use of SBS is created in two ways. Firstly current knowledge that exists within the organisation can be shared through the platform and secondly end-users can contribute to the existing knowledge with their own tacit knowledge.

Social Business Software allows for both a top-down and a bottom-up view of knowledge creation to occur through collaboration within their own business environment. One could argue that the top-down view of knowledge is very structured and compliant while the view on knowledge as ideation from the bottom-up can be seen in a less structured paradigm. Businesses that have fully embraced SBS have the ability to integrate formal and informal knowledge which allows to environment to adapt and change in order to achieve the strategic goals and vision of the enterprise.

The diagram below illustrates the Causal Loop of the Social Business enterprise commnity and knowledge capturing process.

Image

In conclusion, the distance between business strategy and business operation is becoming shorter. Organizations can no longer rely on crystallized procedures, though they strive for optimized business operation. Businesses today have to constantly adapt to environmental changes. Therefore SBS allows an organisation to emphasize standardization and optimization and pair it with adaptation and the achievement of needs. Overall it creates an environment, which integrates the formal knowledge described in business operation with tacit human knowledge and is able to constantly allow for the reinterpretation of business strategy in the face of business environment changes.

The connection between Organisational learning and collaboration through the deployment of Social Business Software and delivering an Open Innovation culture.

An Enterprise exhibits an Open Innovation focus when it is delivered through a learning oriented collaboration network within an organisation. Social Business Software (SBS) facilitates this collaboration. Learning is one of the key mechanisms to generate new knowledge and is the express purpose of collaborative relationships in an organisation.

The learning orientation toward a more collaborative enterprise environment has significant implications on how the firm innovates and retains its competitive advantage. Learning orientation is defined as the development of new knowledge or insights that have the potential to influence behavior through its values and beliefs within the culture of an organisation. (Slater and Narver, 1999)

The Successful deployment of SBS in an organisation will provide an opportunity to continually renew views on operations, processes and its resources. These learnings through collaboration will, over time, lead to enhanced organisational capabilities that cements the firms positioning in its business environment through more proactive decision making which ultimately results in competitive advantages.

SBS as a platform allows the firm to continuously learn, acquire and develop the new and relevant knowledge and skills that will keep up with and stay ahead of its competitors.

A business which has successfully deployed SBS will create an innovative firm that uses the interconnectedness of its people. This can be called a Dynamic Capability; as the platform allows a firm to quickly respond too and exploit the changing market environment. Over time this can lead to imitability. The firms capability to innovate stongly depends on its ability to gain, create and transfer knowledge and resources both within the firm and with its suppliers and customers. Collaboration and networking are becoming increasingly important to the innovation cycle within the enterprise.

To achieve this an organisation must have a viable innovation environment an environment that promotes knowledge transfer.

Organisations today have the ability through collaboration, networking and knowledge sharing to become more openly innovative. The boundary between the enterprise and its environment could be said to have become more permeable, enabling ideas and knowledge to flow more freely all underpinned by Social Business Software.