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Social Networking: How to take advantage of the human web

8 Oct

Here it comes! The last compulsory blog post related to the use of web2.0 tools for companies. But fortunately, this experience gave me the taste of sharing my “knowledge” (if we can say so) with you my dear readers. I therefore intend to keep this blog updated with any information that I find interesting or any discovery that I make about Web2.0 technologies, which are always on the move.

But back to today’s topic: Companies’ usage of social networks.

Social network can be defined as a set of connections through individuals that lead to an expansion of one’s business or social contacts. Today, social networking can easily be achieved on the Internet: People can create their personal identity and share information with their contacts on an online community.

Social networking is more popular online. Indeed, the online community is a gigantic database of people that share common interests, and because it’s global you can get to know helpful contacts that you would be unlikely to have met otherwise. There even is a theory called “the six degree of separation concept” that conveys the idea that any two people on the planet could make contact through a chain of no more than five intermediaries.

The six degrees of separation concept

This clearly highlight the huge potential of social networking in linking up with others, keeping in touch with them and above all connecting with new contacts that can give you a hand in a specific area.

It is widely known that individuals use social networking should it be in their personal life (to keep in touch with friends on Facebook) or their professional life (to connect with potential employers with LinkedIn).
But companies have realized the value of social networking, and benefits for businesses are numerous.

Internal benefits:

• Enable ongoing and integrated communication
• Encourage employees creativity and foster innovation
• Support collaboration and employees engagement
• Build corporate culture and increase employees satisfaction

External benefits:

• Build relationships and trust with your customers
• Keep in touch with clients, suppliers and partners
• Gain exposure
As regards Airservices, I will try to explain how social networking can be used from a Human Resources perspective both internally and externally.
Human resources management is a key issue for Airservices because their workforce is ageing and 30% of their staff is forecasted to retire over the next 5 years.
Using social network could be part of their workforce plan to ensure that Airservices has sufficient and capable staff to deliver organisational objectives.

Internal social network:
  • Fulfill hiring needs through collaboration: Referrals from existing employees have been shown to be one of the best recruiting source. Advertising job openings on an internal social network, will make employees aware of the latest positions available without interrupting their day-to-day work with loads of emails.
  • Keep job descriptions accurate and up to date: By collaborating with hiring managers and teams, the HR department can truly understand their needs and adapt the job description so that they can reach the right audience to find the specific talent they need. HR manager can sometimes have a hard time to understand the specificities of each position. To help them, topics for every team in the company could be open, where they could discuss and explain the reality of their job and the qualities required to do it well.
  • Integrate new employees: For a new recruit it is always hard during the first few weeks to get to know who is who and what everyone does. An internal social network can act as an ice breaker and help new hires to get to know their co-workers, browsing through their profiles and connecting with them on the online community.
External social network:
  • Create a set of potential applicants: Airservices could extend the social network externally to have graduates and other people seeking employment with Airservices join the network and upload their current certifications, qualifications, work history and references, so that Airservices has a ready pool of potential canditates to draw from.
  • Showcase the company: To attract the best employees you need to provide them with an attractive value proposition. This means that potential candidates want to feel that by joining your workforce they will have the opportunity to do meaningful work in an enjoyable environment. Showcasing Airservices work, achievements, people but also corporate culture is a good way to convey a positive image of the company to attract the best candidates.
Some famous companies already took advantage of Social Networking to recruit new talents:

Feel free to read my team related posts about the use of social networks at Airservices to:

REFERENCES
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Wicked Wikis!

3 Oct

Today we keep on investigating how web 2.0 tools can help companies improve their businesses. Do you remember that last week I talked about microblogging and how it could help improve corporate collaboration? Well, time to discover what else the mysterious world of web technology has to offer. I will again illustrate my statements using  Air Services as an example. Through my different posts you will therefore be able to see how all these tools can actually work together to come up with a real Web 2.0 implementation plan for this company.

Ready? Let’s talk about Wikis!

Yes, Wiki as in Wikipedia, which I know we all are familiar with. I’m sure that each of us have at least once use Wikipedia to find out about the Tajikistan’s population, Justin Bieber’s discography or the history of the creation of the corkscrew. No? Ok maybe I’m curious about weird things, but it doesn’t matter what you are looking for, you can find it on Wikipedia. As far as I’m confident that you all use it, do you actually know how this website works? Where do all these pages of information come from?

Wikipedia is simply one example of what a Wiki is: A wiki is a website that allows users to add and update content on the site using their own web browser. Through a collaborative effort of the site visitors, pages are created, text and images are added, link to other pages are included, creating this huge database of knowledge that anyone can edit.

Some advantages of Wikis are that:

  • Contributions are made by a big number of people with different perspectives, making the content rich.
  • The quality of the content is high since contributors are incentivized to share helpful and relevant information otherwise their edit will be deleted by other users.
  • The wiki can grow very fast since the number of contributors can be huge.
  • Wikis are flexible and easy to use.

Because of the flexibility of this tool, Wikis can be used by organisation in many ways:

  • Managing meetings and calendar
  • Knowledge management
  • File archivage
  • Brainstorming and innovative thinking
  • Reference material and operations guide
I am going to focus on the latter use of Wikis.
Air Services is operated by 3 different teams that works together to insure safe and sound air traffic:
  • Air Traffic Control manages Australia’s airspace
  • Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting solves a wide range of incidents from medical emergencies to fire fighting
  • Projects & Engineering designs, develops and maintain technological systems

Because Air Services business is highly specialized, a set of procedures is linked to each team. It is critical that each team working on similar tasks are kept in sync and follow the same guidelines to achieve maximum efficiency and coherence.I would therefore recommend Air Services to set up a Wiki per department, stating a procedure check-list, an operations manual or any other instructions related to their job.The goal here is to simply write down the recipe of the department success.

This is even more critical for Air Services as they have to deal with the issue of an ageing workforce. Indeed, because the business is specialized, a high proportion of employees have a long career in the organization, and today, 67% are older than 40.
Staff retiring raises the problem of passing on knowledge to new recruits, and training them, which can really be time-consuming. Having a well written procedure guide already in place can speed up this process.
The manual can then be used as a reference material that guide employees towards doing a better job. If anyone doesn’t know what they need to do or how to do it, they can simply refer to the procedure guide.
Why use a wiki to do so?
Nobody really likes writing procedures manuals. It’s boring we know that. But what if everyone collaborated, writing down specifics as they do them, in the area of their expertise. Way easier don’t you think?
The flexibility of the wiki is also perfect should procedures evolve and updates be needed.
Still not convinced that it is the right tool?
Ok here are 2 more arguments: If  you are afraid of making a mistake in writing a procedure down, don’t worry you can track the history of all modifications and go back to a previous version of the manual.
And last but not least: it’s FREE!

As usual I will finish this post by providing some takeaways for a successful implementation of the new tool:
  • Use one unique wiki software. There is no need wasting time  training different people in using different wiki softwares.
  • As for every web 2.0 tool, TRAINING is key. Don’t expect people to spontaneously use a tool they are unfamiliar with. You need to lead them to use it slowly over time.
  • To avoid the risk of misuse of the wiki, the editing option should be made available only to registered members of the company. However, no moderation is needed. It is important to select who can participate in the wiki but the selected contributors should be trusted.
Do you know any company that are already using wikis in this way?

Feel free to read my team related posts about how Airservices can use wikis to:
manage knowledge (Andrew)

REFERENCES:
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