Enterprise Humility

Enterprise Humility
Photo by Eric Ziegler
Enterprise humility is extremely important. But enterprise humility in many companies is very difficult. Think about it. How many people are truly humble? I know that I can show humility and be humble. But I know that I am not humble or show humility in all situations. I can think of many situations where people have come up to me and pumped me full of stuff that made my head 10x's bigger. While I might not be humble as often as I would want to be, I do embrace humility and the humility that I show has served me well, allowing me to listen to others, respect others, which has turned into others listening to me and respecting me. If individuals struggle with humility, what is the likelihood that enterprise show humility?

As an organization, enterprise humility is about respecting the employees, accepting that your employees will make mistakes and encouraging them to learn from the mistakes. Enterprise humility is about encouraging employees to share, work out loud (#WOL) and try "things" that are risky but within some defined set of rules. If an employee is able to make mistakes, it enables them to push the limits of what is possible. They will learn more. The will grow faster. The company will be more effective and be more successful. While there might be a step backwards when a mistake is made, think about how much faster they will go when things don't go wrong. And if that happens, think about the impact it will have on the company.

Leaders play a huge part in humility in the organization. Leader humility is about enabling others to learn, grow, and be independent. If a leader is humble enough to let others build on their ideas and to step in to fill in gaps they all will grow. Leaders must be open to allowing their employees to make mistakes and if a mistake is made, not put a new process in to ensure that mistake never occurs again.

An organization needs to embrace humility and encourage people to be humble. Humility in the enterprise is important to ensure diversity of thought and the refining of ideas by all employees. Humility is important for innovation. Humility is important for engaged employees. Humility is important for driving business value.

To put it bluntly, an organization that does not embrace humility, is an organization that is not as effective as it could be and has a higher chance of failure.

Declare Victory!

Photo by Eric Ziegler
How successful are your enterprise social software implementations? If you are like me, I believe that the success of an implementation is never actually complete until well after the initial implementation and roll out. Why? Let me ask the question, do you believe that if you build it they will come? If you do, you will most certainly #fail.

While there is some truth to the idea that if you build it, they will come, I really question how many "they" actually is. Your early adopters will show up, but what about the quick followers? Or the lagging followers? Quick and lagging followers only come when you build it in the rare occasion. The issue is that they often can't see the business value that the social software provides. They don't see how it could improve the way they do their job. They don't realize that sharing openly, working out loud and collaborating in a social manner are ways to build a career that is much bigger and longer lasting than the age old ways of working.

Since success can't be declared immediately, how and when can you determine success and when can you declare "VICTORY"? I believe that some of the best ways of determining success with social software is based on the great stories of individuals, departments, groups, and divisions. How has the social software impacted them individually? How has the social software impacted their department and provided business value? How has a group used the social software to resolve an issue or implemented a new idea? How has the social software changed how the sub-division or the division communicates (e.g. is the communication two way vs. the traditional one-way communication)?

While each story gathered will be unique, the stories are great ways of getting across to anyone that asks why the software is a success and then also gives them ideas on how to use the social implementation for their own success.

How about sharing some of your stories of success?

Rewarded for Good Behavior

Photo by Eric Ziegler
In my last post, I talked about removing an expert from a team to make the team more effective. Obviously, the wrong behavior from an expert can be bad for a team. But not all experts are bad for a team and not all experts exhibit bad behaviors. In addition experts are definitely not bad for organizations as a whole. And that is what this blog post is about - experts rewarded the right way can be invaluable in an organization.

Employees are often rewarded for being the expert at something - Java development, financial analysis, trader, vendor product integration, sales person, etc. The question is, how are these "experts" rewarded. Does the reward influence behaviors and make the individual better, the team better, or the company better? Ideally the reward is influencing to have a positive impact on the individual, the team and the company. But more often than not, the reward is not given as a reward that enhances the team or the company directly and is directed at the individual. In some cases, these rewards could have a negative effect to the team or the company.

Rewards are often given to the expert for some type of heroics. Saving the day when the system blows up or bringing in the big dollars at the end of the quarter, or delivering functionality after spending 20 hours one day implementing or delivering on a major project. It is easy to find reasons to give rewards under these circumstances. But experts are much more valuable to an organization than heroics and rewarding employees and experts for the material things we see everyday.

Experts and employees can provide much more value in an organization by sharing their knowledge and information about their expertise. They are much more valuable when they help others, educate others, and coach others. And experts should be rewarded for these good behaviors. Experts and employees should be rewarded for sharing their knowledge to their team and rewarded even more for sharing their knowledge to other parts of the organization.

Enterprises typically do not have reward systems in place that account for the team sharing or the organization sharing. In addition, there are little to no expectations set by organizations for employees to share. While rewards and expectations are great, there is another issue. Employees are not provided any guidelines on what, how, when, where, and why to share. Employees are also not given any guidelines or expectations on who to share information with. Even if an organization has rewards for this type of behavior, without help, the employees will flounder and in some cases share in ways that are not as effective as possible.

As organizations change and start thinking about how their employees can share information more freely, they will need to not only setup expectations they will need to tell the employees what sharing looks like so the employees can mimic these good behaviors. Lastly, to reinforce these good behaviors, a little reward does not hurt.

Who moved the expert?

Who moved the expert?
Photo by Eric Ziegler
You are the manager of a team. Your team is good at what they do but you believe they could do even more. They are just not clicking and getting as much as you would have expected. As you review how the team is doing you also notice that some of the employees on the team are not learning the material / topic / technology / etc. as well as they could. If you were to characterize the team, you could almost say that they have stagnated their knowledge grows slowly, and they appear to just walking aimlessly through each work week.

As you start to observe the team closer, you realize that one person is viewed as "The Expert" on the team and everyone on the team goes to this one person for support and direction. While this does not happen in every situation, it happens in so many situations that you realize that "The Expert" is considered by the team as indispensable. "The Expert" is invaluable and the team raves about the person. The Expert is the go to person and answers all questions, helping the team get to a solution quicker.

But how invaluable is "The Expert" really? How indispensable is "The Expert" really?

If you remove "The Expert" from team, what happens? Do new people step up and become an expert? What are the short and long term implications to doing something like this? Short term things slow down, no doubt. But long term, do people start to step up, do they start to lead and does the expertise that was with one person start to be dispersed into the team? Does the team get smarter and the team starts to click like a well oiled machine, getting more done than when "The Expert" was part of the team?

Is removing the expert from a team a risk? Absolutely. But, remember, it is a risk to not make a change also. The risk is that the team is not growing, learning, and being as effective as they could be as a team.