Part 2 of a 2 part series on the fusion of social and work
Social employee engagement. I believe a big part of leadership and management engagement is not task, it is social engagement with other employees of the organization. This post, originally appearing at the Shared Visions site, outline the 5 C’s of social work engagement.
Part one of this two part series, why all leaders are social workers, outlined how all work, especially leadership and management is social work. Employees’ key engagement may be with tasks while the engagement of leaders and managers is to connect with employees. Social work does not mean simply standing around and socializing, it means to acknowledge and take ongoing action through the power of social interaction, social thinking, and collaboration.
The 5’Cs. To make the new social work more manageable here are the five C’s of social leadership: connection, conversation, community, collaboration, and co-creation. Included with each “C” is recommended reading to further your understanding and social action for each element of the “new social work.”
Connection. We must abandon isolation as we widen into connection. Connection is more than how many people you follow or the size of your online social network. It requires thinking through how your work impacts others, how others impact your work, and taking time to authentically connect with others. High quality connections are the single biggest contributor to organizational energy. At the start of her book about energizing workplaces Jane Dutton stated, “In a high-quality connection, people feel more engaged, more open, more competent. They feel more alive. High-quality connections can have a profound impact on both individuals and entire organizations.” While John Maxwell stated at the start of his book on Everyone Communicates, Few Connect stated: “I am convinced more than ever that good communication and leadership are all about connecting. If you can connect with others at every level – one-on-one, in groups, and with an audience – your relationships are stronger, your sense of community improves, your ability to create teamwork increases, your influence increases, and your productivity skyrockets.” I encourage you to read Jane Dutton’sEnergize Your Workplace: How to Create and Sustain High-Quality Connections at Work and John Maxwell’sEveryone Communicates Few Connect: What the Most Effective people Do Differently.
Conversation. The fundamental building block for social work is conversation. Conversation trumps command, control or imposition to achieve results. We need to listen, talk, and create meaningful dialogue that promotes relationships and creates change. Atul Guwande presented a compelling argument in the Checklist Manifesto that a skyscraper is built through conversation and anytime there is a variance this is a trigger for a conversation. He declared: “the builders trusted in the power of communication. They didn’t believe in the wisdom of the single individual, or even an experienced engineer. They believed in the wisdom of the group, the wisdom of making sure that multiple pairs of eyes were on a problem and then letting the watchers decide what to do. Man is fallible, but maybe men are less so.” Thousands of airplanes are navigating across the globe’s sky as much through conversation as through jet fuel. Airline crews now take crew resource management or conversation management as part of their basic training to fly. To learn more about conversation read Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler’s Crucial Conversations and Atul Guwane’s The Checklist Manifesto.
Community. Organizations are either evolving into communities or beginning to crumble like ancient pyramids. We need to see community mobilization as a strong facet of all leadership work. Peter Block in Community: the Structure of Belonging stated the essential challenge is to “transform the isolation and self-interest within our communities into connectedness and caring for the whole.” I believe that understanding and mobilizing community are the bedrock of the new social work. Richard Axelrod offers a compelling model of promoting change through organization/community mobilization. I encourage all leaders to read and practice the principles of Peter Block in Community and the engagement methodologies of Richard H. Axelrod in Terms of Engagement.
Collaboration. Our primary method of mobilizing community towards results is collaboration. According to Teresa Amabile, in her book the Progress Principle, collaboration can offer us both the best of work and the worst of work. It can be where we are most engaged and it can also be where we experience the greatest setbacks. No one knows everything and the ability to collaborate is to fully harness the social forces of work. The Harvard Business Review site offers wonderful resources in their special section on collaboration: HBR Insight Center: Making Collaboration Work with articles ranging from Collaborate to Grow the Pie, Not Just Split It to Quantity Versus Quality in Collaboration.
Co-Creation. Our work and output is co-created through social elements. All authentic conversations are wonderful examples of co-creation. To co-create is to have us create together something that none of us would have created alone and is to transform mindless employees into co-creators of work. One example of work co-creation is job crafting. CV Harquail stated: “Job crafting is the practice of (re-)shaping the job that you are expected to do so that you can enlarge the parts that are important to you. Through job crafting, an employee can take on new activities, new responsibilities, and new relationships, making the job so bigger (or smaller), more interesting, more useful, and overall more closely linked to their strengths and interests.” As stated in the practice of positive deviancy, “never do anything about me without me.” Social work is co-created work. A fine example of co-creation is Wikipedia. Co-creation is transforming traditional corporate practices such as training, performance management, and communications into co-creative interactions. Read CV Harquail’s blog post on How Job Crafting can get you Closer to Authentic Work and James Cherkhoff and Johnnie Moore’s Change This Manifesto, Co-Creation Rules! Their rules include: yes, and; make an offer; set the scene; make your customers look good; create opportunity; play, and there are no rules.
Conclusion. As we unite our five C’s into social action we will see more effective, efficient, respectful, and powerful work and organizational contributions as the new “social workers” guide and mobilize us towards the year 2020.
Let’s get social
David Zinger is working extensively with the 10 block pyramid of engagement. One of the key building blocks of this model is relationships. Leverage the power of the pyramid to increase employee engagement where you work by contacting David at 204 254 2130 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org