How To Successfully Control Your Employee Social Network

The decision to implement an enterprise social network generates a lot of buzz at the work-place. As the champions start to pitch the concept and win-over the stakeholders there is a lot of apprehension. And the question most vehemently asked is – How will we control the enterprise social network? How can be it be monitored for constructive usage?  Most of the concern stems from the viral nature of the tool. The biggest strength of the employee social network is now also the biggest concern with respect to it’s adoption.

But that’s how it is with very powerful tool we use before it becomes the defacto way! For example when mobile handsets were just starting to get popular there was a lot of concern around phone radiation and it’s health hazards. A lot of studies were/are undertaken to find out if these radiations are carcinogenic and if they in any way cause brain tumors. While some of the concerns still stand relevant the advantages of mobile handsets far outweigh the cons. Ten years on if anything mobile’s are getting more popular and more smarter in their capabilities and they are now a big part of our everyday life. So much so that now there are studies on mobile addiction :). For those still interested in any health safety issues people can follow guideline for safe usage.

So how do you control the Employee Social Network?
Coming back to the question – How do you control the Employee Social Network? Take a minute and think how do workplaces ensure that behavior and attitude of all employees aligns with the expected and accepted behavior? Through structure  and guidelines of course. Giving structure and guidelines does not mean you frame a policy outlining who should use the employee social network or when. Or how many status updates a day are acceptable and so on!

Structure – Everything has a place and everything in it’s place.
One mantra that I have learnt from keeping my home from getting messy and running a household with 4 members having packed schedules is that everything needs a home, a designated space where it can be found. This helps in keeping chaos under control and helps in restoring order when the clutter starts getting over-whelming. When there are a couple of stray items that do not have a home like bills and loose change emptied from the pockets it’s best to give them a home too so you do not end up finding them all over the house.

Same way, the employee social network  needs a structure and place for everything. The regular updates like the new customer that was acquired or the next team outing they need a designated place in the network. All the points that just got discussed in the team meeting and need to be captured they need a place too. The different groups/projects/communities/posts/wikis/ blogs that are meant for a specific topic add structure and help find content when you need to go back to it.

Structure mixed with culture is a good recipe for controlling the Enterprise Social Network.
Culture is the characteristics of a particular group of people. It is a system of learned behavior shared by and transmitted among the members of a group. The champions have the biggest role to play in building the culture of your Enterprise Social Network.

When the enterprise social network is flagged off and employees start logging in, it is important they find new content every time. The champions need to seed this content and engage employees online. Not every employee finds a voice immediately on the Employee Social Network. Engagement comes when champions solicit inputs online and show ways and means to contribute meaningfully. An enterprise social network champion needs to act as the  community manager. From commenting, creating, soliciting, connecting, helping – the champion needs to don each and every hat from time to time. The attitudes and behaviors of the champions online is what most employees will emulate. On the whole the norms of behavior that are applicable offline hold good online on the enterprise social network too.

The key for getting over the “How do you control?” apprehension is to approach the employee social networks from the standpoint of what the employees SHOULD do versus what they shouldn’t. Overtime this creates a culture.

What about the time wasters and mischief makers?
If you are till fixated on getting an answer to the “How do you control the  employee social network”? question, the answer is that the community self regulates. You will not find employees posting irrelevant or objectionable content for the same reasons you wouldn’t find the employee speaking in that manner in a team meeting or any other open forum at work.

An employee who doesn’t want to work isn’t going to. This probably needs to be handled offline.  The other point is that the conversations happening online are happening offline too. You are better off  knowing about them than being in the dark totally. For any and all other instances where there is a need to intervene and control the enterprise social network tools comes with administrative capabilities.

So, if you want to equip our workplace with a cutting edge tool that helps the team get more done in less time then give MangoApps a try.  MangoApps provides private, secure internal social collaboration networks for work.  Your employees will begin to connect, communicate, and collaborate like never before.

To read 5 case studies and lots of feedback/reviews from current MangoApps customers, see the MangoApps Dossier.