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.

Organisational Trust and Performance

I have written about the concept of trust in one of my previous blogs but the necessity of it in order to fulfill and compliment an effective social business software deployment and adoption is essential.

I will start by saying that trust is a precious commodity. If you want real quality in your organization, you must have the trust of the people in that organization. This point is fundamental. No trust equals inadequate quality.

Times change, priorities shift, but trust remains a constant if you make the effort and the effort is definitely worthwhile. Without the effort, short-term and inadequate measures will become the order of the day.

True quality in a business can only arise from a system that promotes quality processes at all times in all corporate activities. Central to such a system is trust.

Building genuine trust in an organization is definitely possible. But it does take time and real commitment from the top. Further, it involves dealing with the organizational culture and probably changing it – no small task. When it comes to trust you can truly say that the devil is in the details.

Drucker estimates that building up trust will usually take a minimum of three years. Such a longer-term prospect can seem daunting to management. But it is a specific form of investment, with deep rewards at the end.

In his 1989 book on leadership, On Becoming a Leader, Bennis noted “ … trust is the underlying issue in not only getting people on your side, but having them stay there …”.

Trust is not something you can demand or order. It must be earned. You can have my trust only when I feel that you are worthy of my trust. If the slightest doubt creeps into the process or, worse, you betray my trust, an environment of distrust will ensue.

Trust has definite and bankable value. Without it, a true quality system within a  business just cannot work. The self-reinforcing causal loop diagram below provides an insight inside a trusted environment.

 Image

In an era of global competition, continuing innovation, deregulation, and economic uncertainties, good enough results might not cut it. Almost inevitably, someone else, with better quality, will become your corporate nemesis. And chances are good that a better quality emerges from a situation of better trust for the employees. Quality and trust go together. If you want to have quality on a sustained basis, you must have trust. Without trust, you may simply be setting up an elaborate corporate system of quality self-deception.

Trust in your workplace is worth thinking about continually. And such continual Trust for quality thinking requires continual acting.