The New View of "Employee"

10 steps for leading Web 2.0 initiatives and getting buy-in from your workers.

The New View of Employee
A Single Person or an Access Portal?
However, beyond the employee, the network itself has become a living, breathing organism.  Something happens at a certain critical mass where the web takes on a life of its own.  Many corporate leaders fear this organism spreading out of control. They fear that they may lose control of the growth and spread of their brand identity or their ability to manage their "subordinates." But these viral systems, like all ecosystems, are somewhat fragile organic organisms that must live and grow on their own.
Instead of thinking of how they can expedite growth and development--and mess with the nature of their growing social media systems--corporate leaders need to let go, and let their internal workplace community thrive independently, and then look for ways that they can then join in as a contributing member of that whole, living organism. Letting go is not simply stepping aside.  In order for social media to thrive, systems need to be in place for employees to communicate, and collaborate. That translates to providing the resources (such as smart phones, netbooks, laptops and other hardware) to enable their capacity to collaborate. It also means encouraging the "multitasking" to occur freely and spontaneously.
Leadership coaches often describe the components of employee engagement as having employees who are aligned and motivated and who have the capacity to contribute. Providing space and resourcing these social media systems so that they can spring up and thrive does exactly that. 

By collaborating with their peers and other colleagues, employees become more aligned; by having a say in the direction and the ebb and flow of information sharing, employees are naturally more motivated; and by providing the systems, tools and permission for social media, employees have a greatly increased capacity to contribute.
Perhaps the more difficult task is one's involvement as the leader and manager. How might the leader have to change in order to lead from empowerment and people-engagement instead of from command and control? What does leadership look like when done from below?

This article was originally published on 04-07-2010
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