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Jive Talks

2 Posts authored by: johnstepper Champion

When something doesn’t work at home, you might complain on Twitter or use your smartphone to report the problem. Or you’ll search for a solution on-line and fix the problem yourself.

But what do you do at work? Probably nothing.

At most companies, it’s simply too hard to fix small things. Every department has their own portal and their own number to call. It’s not nearly convenient enough, so you just live with the problem or leave it for the next person. And dissatisfaction and disengagement multiplies.

There’s a better way. And it may be more important than you think.

 

The Broken Windows theory

In 1982, two sociologists wrote an article that said, in essence, small breakdowns in a society, left untended, lead to bigger breakdowns.

“Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it's unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside. Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or breaking into cars.”

One of the authors subsequently worked as a consultant to the NYC Transit Authority in the late 1980s, when they started to target graffiti and minor violations. Later, he influenced the Police Department, leading to NYC’s  “zero tolerance” and “quality of life” strategies that are widely seen to have significantly reduced both petty and serious crime.

Broken windows at work

While the debate continues about causation and correlation, most people agree that the Broken Windows theory matters because social cues matter. That is, “individuals look for signals within the environment as to the social norms in the setting and...one of those signals is the area's general appearance.”

What are the equivalents of graffiti and broken windows at work?

They're the broken speakerphone and missing network adapter in the conference room. The leaking sink and mis-set clock. The empty vending machine and the dirty pantry.

It’s an endless list of little things, typically in shared spaces, that are big enough to irritate someone but not so big that they’ll do much to report it or put much effort into fixing it themselves.

Those seemingly little issues add up to a culture where it’s okay for things not to work. And quality and productivity suffer as a result.

3 ways to modernize employee service

Improving customer support is a classic use case for social tools and practices. It’s not often applied inside the firm, but it could be. Here are 3 ways to improve service for employees.

Make it easy to report issues - and for service providers to engage: instead of every department having their own way to report a problem, social platforms let anyone post a simple complaint from their iPhone, iPad, or desktop. Those same platforms make it easy for the right people to listen, engage the person complaining, and fix the problem more quickly - all in a way that everyone else can observe. (Here's a recent example from BofA's customer service on Twitter.)

Let people help themselves: the internal helpdesks at your firm - from HR to IT to facilities - are anachronisms and almost pure waste. Each one consults their own knowledge base to handle endless phone calls and emails, largely the same questions over and over. Using a single collaboration platform instead boosts self-service by providing a universal set of on-line forums. That makes it easy for anyone to search for answers, provide feedback on the results, or ask their own questions.

Let people help each other: When the problem can’t be readily solved by a forum or by a service provider, it can be usually be solved if you find the right person. Here's where on-line, role-based communities are extremely valuable. They make it easy to get your question in front of relevant people and to identify experts on specific topics.

“Doesn’t anybody care?”

We have all of this at home. (We don't call the Google helpdesk. And, increasingly, even municipal governments are adopting social tools and practices to improve service.) We can and should have better service at work, too, because it’s better for the employees and better for the firm.

Responsive service inside the firm sets cues for the rest of the organization and shapes  the culture. It says:

“We care about our workplace. We care about our employees. We care about the quality of our products and the service we provide for our customers.”

Not a modern sales approach.jpg

 

Almost as soon as I began, I knew I was losing my audience.


I was in a retail banking branch, trying to explain the benefits of Jive to the staff. And they were skeptical.


“We’re very busy with clients. We don’t have time for other things.” “How much does it cost? We’re very focused on profitability.”


Words like “Jive” or “social intranet” or “micro-blogging” didn’t mean much to them. I quickly needed to change my approach.


“What’s the point?”

What is it?.jpg

 

The problem was that I was talking about what I had instead of talking about what they needed. They didn’t want yet another tool or thing to do. They wanted help.


So I started over.


“Our goal is to make things easier for you. Easier to find answers and experts. Easier to share better ways of working with people who do what you do. Easier to coordinate work in your group and across groups.

 

If we make all of that easier, we’ll make your jobs better while we unlock tremendous value for our company.”


Making work easier in 3 ways

They weren’t convinced, but focusing on making their lives easier bought me some time.


Now I could describe how Jive can make their jobs easier. (Luckily, I had met recently with one of Jive’s most articulate experts, Kathryn Everest, and she gave me some great ideas.)

 

Sometimes, you need to go to a place - a destination - to get things done. It could be the latest information on a project or about a client or a product. It’s just a website, but with some modern advantages. You can see feedback from other people - comments, ratings, or “likes” - that let you know what’s helpful or not. And searching is simple and fast.

 

These are all things you’re used to at home but not in the office. Now we can fix that.


The second way we make things easier is with a Facebook-like stream. It lets you follow things you care about - people, groups, documents, websites - and get notified in real-time. The things that matter to you are delivered in a way that’s easy to skim quickly but that also allows for comments and other feedback.


And the tools themselves are convenient and engaging. That means iPad and iPhone access, for example. It means consolidating several of the tools we have into one place. And it means integration with our email system, Outlook. That lets you see all Jive activity right from your inbox. And lets you push email discussions into Jive so whole conversations can now be searchable and more inclusive.

 

Business examples in their language

You can describe Jive and the 3 ways it makes work easier in a long elevator ride. The key is relating it to what people do every day.


So, in the retail branch, I asked how they get answers to questions about products or processes.

 

“There’s a number to call,” they said. “Sometimes we have to wait on the phone for 10 minutes.”

 

Then I talked about ways we can use the new platform to increase self-service at work. About what other companies like Apple and T-Mobile have done using Jive.

 

What about learning the best ways to do certain things, like selling particular products?

 

“There’s a website for the basics. But usually I ask other people in the branch, and that can take time.”

 

Then I talked about richer websites maintained by trained curators. And communities of practice where people in similar jobs across the firm can share best practices and help each other.


Getting answers. Finding experts. Sharing best practices. Coordinating work. Across divisions and across firms, you tend to find the same collaboration needs and patterns. The jargon will differ, but the underlying concepts and issues will be the same.

 

Depending on how much time you have, you can keep going through your common use cases and relating them to your audience.


Making it personal

Opportunity.jpg


Towards the end, I made it personal.


I asked people in the branch how they would know about great jobs in other branches. And how would anyone besides their manager know about them and their skills?


There was a pause. A young woman answered, somewhat wistfully, “Some people work in the same branch for 30 years.”


Then I talked about how collaborating online makes their work visible. How it gives them control over their reputation - who they are, what they do, and how well they do it - and unlocks access to good jobs.


Speaking multiple languages, for example, was in high demand. Would a Frankfurt-based bank employee who spoke Italian be interested in a job on the Amalfi coast? Would they contribute on-line if it meant they could be more visible?


“Yes, of course! That would be great.”


Always. Be. Closing.

Using Jive is good for the individual because it makes their job easier while giving them a way to shape their reputation and access opportunities.

 

And it’s good for the firm. Good for finding waste and eliminating it. Good for finding commercial opportunities and exploiting them. Good for finding great people and giving them the best jobs.

 

“Now, let’s set up our next meeting. Let’s start changing the way you work.”

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