So much focus is put on tapping into the groundswell on the customer side of things. I touched on it in one of my previous blogs actually, you should check it out! However, what is often ignored or overlooked is the groundswell within your company! It seems only natural for management to develop ways for employees to interact with each other. For one, they work for you. They have at least one thing in common. Also, they have a common goal: your company’s success. So I guess they have at least two things in common! Those two similarities are often enough to generate conversations in the workplace. With this thing called the Internet, companies are coming up with ways to transform these workplace relationships into company-wide relationships. However, “the bigger a company is, the more of a problem internal communication becomes[..]getting insights back up to management and encouraging collaboration among people throughout the enterprise is harder (Li & Bernoff, groundswell, 2011).
An example of a company that has had success with these “internal social networks” is Best Buy. They called it “Blue Shirt Nation” and through it, upper management gained insight on what worked in the community, and what didn’t work. It enabled employees to help each other, it made them feel like an important part of a huge retail chain. Another key ingredient to the Blue Shirt’s success is the level of management involvement. “The fact that a VP references an employee blog post in the course of everyday business discussions speaks louder and truer than any mandates or exhortations to use the technologies” (Li & Bernoff, groundswell, 2011)
This video gives us a little more insight on how Blue Shirt Nation has evolved, what’s changed, and just what it’s done for the company. It’s an interview regarding Blue Shirt Nation with the two bright individuals who founded it. It’s definitely worth watching if you want to learn a little more about it.
The amount of success that this program generated really changed my way of thinking in regards to maintaining a supportive workplace atmosphere from an upper management perspective. It’s more than just ensuring everyone gets along, it’s giving the employees a voice, and allowing them to genuinely feel that they can make a difference. The stigma surrounding retail jobs is that the employees aren’t cared for, and their actions on an individual level do not shape the future of the company. Best Buy created Blue Shirt Nation which showed that they care what their employees think, and that they can make a difference. Like I mentioned, employee blog posts are referenced in business discussions. Being a sales associate and knowing that your opinions don’t go unnoticed is an empowering feeling. These sorts of programs energize the internal groundswell, and in the internal groundswell, “the secret to thriving is culture” (Li & Bernoff, groundswell, 2011, p. 248).
If you’ve read any of my other blogs, you know I plan to work in the financial services industry. I’m not sure how many companies have a system like Blue Shirt Nation, but I think it would be wise for financial services firms to go down that road, too. For example, the sales representatives could have the ability to post blogs or something like a diary to a company website. This could include any tips they have for increasing sales, or changes that could be made to the company. The sales reps could discuss the tips that they post, which would build workplace relationships, thus creating a strong work culture.
Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). groundswell. In C. Li, & J. Bernoff, groundswell (p. 234). Boston: Harvard Business Review.
Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). groundswell. In C. Li, & J. Bernoff, groundswell (p. 245). Boston: Harvard Business Review.