Social media is exposing a problem in business: many, many employees and customers don’t care much about the business; they’re not flocking to join Facebook fan pages, participate in employee communities, add comments to blogs.
Take a look around and you’ll find the evidence everywhere. After all the worries about what employees might post, working for months with legal to get guidelines in place, and putting that corporate blog and Facebook page in place, there’s a thunderous echo of nothingness.
The reason? Most people are just not that into their companies. Sure, their companies may be good places to work, opportunities for professional advancement may be decent, and the company is probably a responsible corporate citizen. But the passion is missing.
Social media is exposing a significant business problem: bland corporate cultures. I would suggest that we should be spending far more time on the culture problem than on social media. Of course, the more you spend on the latter, the more vivid you’re likely to see the cultural issues.
In most corporations processes, rules, and values, e.g., integrity and truthfulness, are clear and understood, but people don’t care about the company with their head and their hearts. (Do companies even use the word “love” or talk about feelings?) The primary reason for this lack of passion is because companies’ purpose beyond making money is unclear. There’s no meaningful cause or purpose that everyone in the company is together aspiring to achieve.
Pick your study or expert and you’ll see the quantifiable value of a strong corporate culture.
- Financial growth/profitability: Companies with strong cultures returned 1,026 percent for investors over 10 years compared to a 122 percent for the S&P, according to the business school authors of Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit From Passion and Purpose.
- Speeding change, adopting new strategies: “You must create a culture that motivates people to execute the strategy — not to the letter but to the spirit. People’s minds and hearts must align with the new strategy so that at the level of the individual, people embrace it of their own accord and willingly go beyond compulsory execution to voluntary cooperation in carrying it out.” Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant. (Notice the head and heart term again?)
- Bringing humanity to work: “What we need is not an economy of hands or heads, but an economy of hearts. Evert employee should feel that he or she is contributing to something that will actually make a genuine and positive difference in the lives of customers and colleagues. For too many employees, the return on emotional equity is close to zero. They have nothing to commit to other than the success of their own career. To succeed today a company must give its members a reason to bring all of their humanity to work.” Gary Hamel, Leading the Revolution.
We’ve heard so much about the potential of social media and enterprise 2.0 to bring people together in new ways to brainstorm, collaborate, build deeper relationships, eliminate barriers, bring new ideas to market faster.
But if people don’t love your company, don’t expect to reap the big benefits of social media.
The good news, however, is that most companies have a bigger reason for being, a purpose more significant than simply growing financially. Someone just has to step up and lead the charge to uncover that purpose and focus the organization around it.
It could just be the most rewarding challenge of your career.