Creating an internal groundswell in your company might be a scary concept. Letting go of control, having your employees speaking their minds, and removing silos can create a level of uncertainty that most executives avoid. But the groundswell isn’t scary. Who knows best the day to day operations of your company? The employees! It’s not the executives or mangers; it’s the employees down in the trenches dealing with customers and completing critical processes. They are the ones creating the data that gets rolled up to a point on a quarterly executive update. The best way to tap into all of that knowledge is to provide a forum for them to share it.
An internal groundswell can be set up easily and with minimal costs. It needs to be organic at its core; having a ridged system with too many rules will not encourage employee participation. There are three main types of internal groundswells; internal social networks, wiki’s, and idea exchanges.
Internal social networks are intended to create and foster open communication in a company. It’s a way for employees from all departments and locations to connect and talk about what they do and why they are great at it. You can create profiles that speak to the skillsets and interests and this enables people to search for a fellow employee that can help them with a specific problem. Think if you needed to know who was a master at Excel or PowerPoint for a big demo you needed to do, how great it would be to find out there were five people that could help you!
Wiki’s are a great way to share information within a company. Updating Wiki content is easier and faster than traditional methods. Information on projects and pitfalls can be quickly exchanged and the tools and learnings can be carried forward much faster than traditional methods. Idea exchanges allow for innovation to occur. Someone can post an idea or thought and others can build on it instantly. You can see what issues other areas are having and create champions to help solve some of your shared issues.
This internal groundswell allows the executives to learn about their employees by listening and talking to them. How would you feel if the CEO read your blog and commented on it? They energize employees by creating a collaborative work environment and a place to be heard.
Ericsson is a great example of using internal groundswell. They have what is called Ideaboxes that allow employees to submit an idea and have it voted on (Morgan, 2015). If the idea receives enough votes by fellow employees it goes onto the next phase (Morgan, 2015).
Bernoff, J., & Li, C. (2011). groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business Review.
Morgan, J. (2015, June 8). Five examples of companies with internal innovation programs. Retrieved from Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jacob-morgan/five-examples-of-companie_b_7023322.html