The Groundswell inside your Company

Getting into the twelfth chapter of this book, the emphasis has now shifted towards getting your employees in the groundswell. Employees can be one of the most valuable assets to your company and they should all hold the one goal of aiding in your companies success.

Employees are connecting through internal social networks, collaborating on wikis, and contributing to idea exchanges” (Li & Bernoff, 2011)   

internal social networks : Blue Shirt Nation at Best Buy was created to listen to what employees had to say and for them to help each other. Referring back to chapter 4, Blue Shirt Nation achieved all five objectives of listening, talking, energizing, supporting, and embracing. An in depth interview with the masterminds behind this innovation can be watched below!

collaborating on wikis: The CEO of Razorfish, one of the biggest interactive agencies, made a blog post unrelated to his work, but it allowed employees to be connected with their leader. It created an internal intranet site where employees can share ideas, skills, or blog about anything.  It allows an opportunity to see what people are concerned about, encourage participation and listening and acts as a virtual management tool.

contributing to idea exchange: To induce innovation, Rex Lee from Bell Canada designed “ID-ah”, a platform where anyone in their company could suggest an idea and have employees vote on it. Not only was it used to generate ideas, but to change attitudes by creating a more invested workforce where employees can feel like their work and opinions matter.


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In order to nurture the groundswell power of your employees, you need to ensure that you:

  • promote a listening culture from the top down
    • Management needs to be open to the idea of listening to their employees and have a high level of trust. Opinions need to be encouraged, not punished.
  • ease and encourage participate with incentives
    • Depending on what your applications target is (ex: listening, collaboration), the level of participation is reliant on this. To encourage participation, you need to accommodate your application to be attractive to those who are usually Inactive’s,
  • find & empower the rebels in your organization
    • Opportunity cost needs to be the main objective. The potential to allow enthusiastic employees get on board should act as a driving force. This being said – mistakes happen! Be prepared to fail, but to direct energy productively so you can help and learn from mistakes. Don’t forget to set up some guidelines and ground rules in advance √

In this chapter we have summarized how culture is the key for an internal groundswell. Nothing can be forced upon your employees, so it helps having your top management involved to get the ball rolling. To relate the topics discussed in this chapter to the HR industry, this sector of an organization can have a huge impact on the overall culture of the company.  From the moment the employee is hired and while conducting interviews, they need to be embraced with the idea of what your organization can provide them and let them know their voice can be heard. And of course, this culture is hugely influenced by top management. This is an ongoing and continuous process that needs to be reinforced to existing and prospective employees.

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press



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