Basically, corporate networks work just as private networks. For active cooperation, it is necessary that the employees contribute voluntarily to their topics and work areas in the respective communities.
Picture: Luc Legacy – My social network (on Flickr). Use under the conditions of the CC 3.0 (BY-SA)
In this article, we will focus on the employees and their active cooperation. The central aspect of a network. It is no longer a question if employees should network, but rather how such a network can be designed in order for the employees to become active on their own. As we see it, networking is centrally about active and independent cooperation of the employee. First, you have to convince them of it – voluntarily. Furthermore, they have to be enabled. Communities are the linking factor that brings employees together, regardless of hierarchy, location or profession. They provide the space for trustworthy exchange, open communication and transparent collaboration, because they start with the basic principle of working together on products, problems or services. And because they are created on the principle of voluntarily following and inviting to a network, and enable and presuppose communication on equal footing.
On equal footing – The example Conti
„Employees are quickly disappointed by big promises, and coercion would be a questionable way of introducing Social Business. “ (Harald Schirmer) We can see a very successful example for this in a transnational company: Continental AG organized the networking and building the communities in ConNext (that is the name of Conti’s Platform) from the “bottom up”. It was not accidental that this seemed like an internal culture revolution. During the Social Guides Project employees from the global corporate sites could be won to share their positive experiences with collaboration in communities. For this they themselves built a community of about 400 people, which enjoys sharing the enthusiasm and interest with others, in order to create motivation and share relevant ideas and experiences. “Walk the talk” – live by example. Consequently, this means that the employees – motivated by the Guides – meet on equal footing, exchange and communicate, and by doing that they slowly build their networks. And, as if by magic, they learn how they implement the core values in these communities and to collaborate.
Enable - and think about Leadership
Trust and transparency are key conditions for working in communities. But more importantly, that the employees are also responsible for the Group's results. Which in turn requires real decision-making possibilities. Having a stake in it: A such designed participation – organized through the communities – is our absolute recommendation for active employees. The huge challenge of active involvement of employees in networks lies exactly in: communities have to function outside of hierarchies and constraint. This enablement and participation means to shape the organization in a way to make this possible. It also means leading by example, ensuring compliance with protection and participation rights, and eventually living the core values. In addition, it particularly means reduction of control, expansion of participation and transformation of guidance in Leadership. Click here for Part 1 of the series; Part 3 is here.