Humanizing companies: when technology facilitates recognition and praise

M. has worked for the same company for circa 4 decades! A lifetime devoted to one organization, witnessing its ups and downs, watching its history unfold as turbulently as that of her country. For her work and devotion she has received praise and recognition on some occasions, namely whenever a party to celebrate important dates of the organization were organized.

Some months ago, however, the team managing an internal blog-like communication platform invited her to give an interview, later published in that platform, as a way to share her story and her memories of 4 decades of work with younger colleagues.

What happened next amazed both the colleagues managing the platform and herself. As soon as the interview was published, recognition and praise started flourishing from all corners of the organization in the form of comments: her closer colleagues, her direct manager, her direct manager’s boss, colleagues she had never heard of, colleagues from the other side of the Atlantic… Some – her closer ties – gave her recognition for her work, good spirits and friendship; others – her weaker ties – thanked her for her devotion and for telling her history without ceremony.

The flow of feedback to her words and story moved her so much that she couldn’t stop thanking the (overwhelmed!) colleagues that make sure that the platform is constantly updated and that stimulate everyone’s participation (think of internal community managers).

This small episode may seem insignificant to a big organization but I don’t think it is. I think it shows the power of using social technologies (in this case a blog-like platform) to humanize a company:

  • you give voice to your employees, both those that share their stories and those that react by commenting, no matter their position in the hierarchy ladder (in the case of M. not a very high position)
  • you share and keep memory of the history of your organization through storytelling
  • you signal to other employees that you care about what they have to say, their experiences and wisdom
  • you humanize “names” and “employee numbers” (now everyone knows who M. is)
  • you give them an online space for conversation and interaction, stimulating connectedness
  • you publicly give praise and recognition which, like Daniel Pink described in Drive, can do much more for motivation and employee engagement than an increase in the paycheck

From that moment on M., who speaks little English, started making an effort to comment in other posts in English so that should communicate and give praise to other colleagues. And they say miracles don’t happen in the corporate world…

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4 thoughts on “Humanizing companies: when technology facilitates recognition and praise

  1. Great and inspiring post, Ana! Relates well to my experience as well. When we rolled out Yammer the power of the like button became apparent. In a company and culture in which it is not done to give compliments to each other, the little nudge of liking an update or question makes everything shift. I’ve seen it happen before my eyes.

  2. Loved this story.

    One of the reasons I’m so optimistic about social business is that we can and will read more stories like this. Not just because they’re nice (and they are), but because “humanizing work” may be the best way to boost productivity we have.

    • John, it is a true pleasure having you reading and commenting on my little corner in the blogosphere. Your tale of how your request for resources for internal social media efforts was met with “What problem are you trying to solve?” resonated deeply with me, and I try to remember it in my dealings with Enterprise 2.0 (both at work and when teaching).

      I do agree that humanizing work (as well as companies and brands) is the way forward in a world cluttered with insanity and robot-like actions.

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