In Managing the Egosystem: 6 Rules of Engagement Lauren Carlson of Software Advice does a great job of expounding the fundamentals of “engagement”, in an interview with Brian Solis where he describes his concept of the “egosystem“.

The problem with a statement like, “It’s not about relationships anymore, it’s about engagement!” is that it sounds like a bunch of buzz, and I think it’s safe to say that we’re all pretty fed up with the buzz. So, I asked Solis to give me a definition of engagement, said Lauren.

Lauren asked us what we thought of her post, to which we say that it’s well constructed, insightful, and adds to the understanding of what the social enterprise is all about.

In our own 8 Point Framework for Social Business our 7th phase is Engagement. We spell out a few basics in the processes we use at that phase, around the ideas that Engagement is:

  • iGo2 Group Social Business Success FrameworkResponsive;
  • Transparent;
  • Authentic; and
  • Human.

And that it is encouraged by:

  • Polls and Contests;
  • Promoting others;
  • Benefits and Gamification; and,
  • Recommendations.

Consumer engagement

Lauren extracted 6 key characteristics of social media and engagement from Brian Solis:

  • Value – consumers want to feel valued by the companies they do business with;
  • Efficiency – customers want their time to be valued as well;
  • Trust – confidence in the credibility of businesses;
  • Consistency – there is no value unless the service you provide is consistent across all communication channels;
  • Relevancy – providing targeted communication that is relevant to customers. It will probably make them feel valued, as well.
  • Control – customers want an experience that gives them the sense of control.

We value these explanations and we’ll be incorporating the ideas into our Social Business Framework.

Employee engagement – just another buzz word?

An important part of engagement that isn’t in the scope of Lauren’s post is engagement with employees, as a pre-requisite for transforming into a social business engaging with consumers/customers.

See Demystifying Qantas and Social Media

With regard to employee engagement there is a similarity with consumer engagement – and that is, what does it mean?

Is it just buzz as well?

I must admit that we haven’t done a great job of defining what it means, so Lauren’s post and Brian’s thoughts have spurred us on. It is a complex question, and one that’s had the attention of many HR and people experts for a long time. The theory is that creating “engagement” will increase employee satisfaction which will increase customer satisfaction which will increase profits – the Service Profit Chain. The fundamental idea is that value is created by satisfied, loyal, and productive employees.

iGo2 Group Internal Engagement 10 Success FactorsHere is our first pass at defining internal engagement, comprising 10 key issues:

  • Leadership – for all intents and purposes the leadership of an organisation sets the tone for an individual’s effort, accountability and reward. So it needs to be seen from the top down;
  • Purposeclarity of purpose of the organisation is also key – without clarity people may be working towards different outcomes, and at the least different groups working inconsistently across the organisation. In a social business setting this is a recipe for disaster;
  • Teams - teams need to be of  people who are internally connected and orientated to the organisations core purpose. In fact teams become sub-communities within the corporate and the extended ecosystem;
  • Individual accountability – ultimately no organisation is reponsible for any individuals “happiness” or job satisfaction – the individual has to accept their own responsibility, within a framework of Trust;
  • Trust – people need to be able to trust the decision-makers in the organisation, and have that trust reinforced in all their dealings and observations of the organisation and how it works – both internally and externally and in dealings with customers and suppliers and partners;
  • Reciprocation - people want to know that if they bring their best to work every day then it matters and they want to feel appropriately recognised and rewarded;
  • Reward and recognition – is not about the highest salaries or the biggest office, but rewards and recognition in the peer groups, teams and communities within which people have their most human connections. In some systems this is called gamification whereby the systems are able to deliver recognition in pre-programmed ways and to spread that recognition across relevant social communities;
  • Contribution to Improvement – people come to work to be treated as contributing adults engaged in producing results and want to feel the engagement and satisfaction that comes from being recognised as being part of something that works. If they can readily and simply provide that input and receive feedback then their engagement increases;
  • Communication and transparency – this includes making and taking the time to share an understanding of issues faced by the business and helping employees rise above self-interest to be more interested in the good of the whole team and/or organisation;
  • Business process alignment – it’s no use making people battle internal business processes which force them to act against the desired behaviour by taking shortcuts and quick fixes; the business processes have to be aligned with the desired culture, commitment and accountability, and the sense of pride in a job well done; and last but certainly not least (in fact perhaps it should be first),
  • Hiring - you need to hire people who are intrinsitcally capable of relating to the organisations core values and mission and who are most likely to exert their discretionary effort on behalf of the organisation and its clients.

Ultimately, I remember a very wise CEO that said that in times of change employees will remain engaged if they know three things:

  1. Where is the business headed – the big picture as it relates to us all?
  2. What is or will be my role in that future?
  3. How am I doing at the moment (do I need to fear anything)?

Perhaps they are the three invariant underlying measures of the good health of employee engagement.

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How do you define employee engagement?
How do you see it playing a role in the successful transformation to a social enterprise?
What frameworks and methodologies, in your experience, best guide this process?
What is the role of leadership versus individual accountability?

Please comment below.