Enterprise Social Networks: Driving Performance and Managing Change

In March 2014, I toured Northwestern University and sat in on Jeff Merrell’s MSLOC 430 Creating & Sharing Knowledge course. I remember #NerdingOut while reading the assigned articles for the class and observing the collaborative nature of the students — this confirmed my desire to apply to the MSLOC program.

Exhibit 1. Throwback to my MSLOC visit.


Flash forward almost two years later, and I am now in my third quarter and enrolled in Jeff’s #msloc430 class. While there are a number of topics I am interested in exploring, I am focusing on how Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs) drive individual and team behavior and/or performance in the context of change management.

Performance in my Personal Life

Like several people, I have fallen on and off the workout wagon more times than I can count.

I am an early adopter of Fitbit (I’ve had a fitness tracker since December 2012 and I am very pro #WearableTech), but I knew I needed something more interactive to complement the Fitbit challenges and daily step goals.  Fortunately last fall, a fellow Bentley alum, Ashley, reached out to me via Facebook. She became a Beachbody Coach and planned to co-host a private #NewYearNewYou Fitness Challenge Facebook Group with another Bentley alum, Jen. I was hesitant to participate in such groups in the past, but since I somewhat knew these two ladies from college (and I needed a little extra motivation for the winter), I kept an open mind and was more comfortable to give the group a shot (#trust).

Ashley worked with me to discuss how I can incorporate Focus T25 workouts with the 21-Day Fix Nutrition Plan. One week before the challenge started, Ashley and Jen posted meal prep tips and recipes along with other #fitspiration quotes and images. Every day since the challenge started, the hosts have shared daily posts that encourage members to participate in a task and earn points. For example, on Motivational Monday, we were asked to post our favorite quote, picture, or message, and on Tasty Tuesday, to post a picture of a healthy meal or a link to a favorite recipe. I was very involved in completing the tasks during week one, but during week two I started to get extremely busy trying to balance work, class, and recruiting events, and I barely commented on the posts of the day. I still managed to squeeze in my T25 workouts, but I could feel myself having the urge to order take out even though I had already meal prepped for the week. Ashley reached out to me individually to check in, and I was actually surprised how much this simple act helped me stay focused and on track. I know the next two weeks are going to be even busier with travel plans for the next round of interviews, so I posted in the challenge group to ask about healthy eating tips while traveling and for healthy restaurant suggestions in NYC, Dallas, and Los Angeles. Within minutes, Ashley and Jen provided sound advice, and I am even more determined to hold myself accountable for not only eating portion-controlled nutritious meals while traveling, but also completing T25 workouts from the comfort of my hotel room.

Number 18 on my Thirty Before Thirty bucket list is to maintain a healthy diet through clean eating and weekly meal preparation — I am one step closer to reaching this goal. I am happy to say that I am officially 5.1 pounds down since January 1st, and I have Ashley, Jen, and the challenge group participants to thank for 1) helping me transition to a portion-controlled diet and manageable workout routine, 2) keeping me motivated to sustain this change, and 3) contributing to my overall individual performance!

Performance in the Workplace

As I reflect on how social media has influenced performance in my personal life, I’d like to examine how enterprise social networks drive individual and team behavior and/or performance in the workplace.

The Change Management Institute describes the evolution of social business and looks into the future of social fusion, or the reward systems and organizational power structures based around thought leaders, virtual systems and fluid networks replacing traditional organizational structures.

Exhibit 2. How to use social media with other change management tools, Change Management Institute.

Social Media CM1

When I think more about the involve (ability) and recognize (reinforcement) steps, I am reminded of Yan Huang et al’s article, A Structural Model of Employee Behavioral Dynamics in Enterprise Social Media (2015), where the authors describe that:

Work-related blogging allows individuals to communicate their expertise to a broader audience at a relatively low cost and develop their reputations. Once employees are identified as “experts” in certain domains, they may benefit from economic incentives, such as promotions and salary increases (Kavanaugh et al. 2006, Aggarwal et al. 2012). Leisure-related blog posting, on the other hand, can improve employees’ popularity among their peers and make them “opinion leaders” on select topics. Reading blogs also provides benefits. An increase in work-related knowledge from reading blogs may help employees become more professionally productive, more informed about new ideas, create new opportunities, and so on (Huh et al. 2007, Yardi et al. 2009). Leisure-related information can satisfy employees’ interests and allow them to relax (Singh et al 2014), thereby indirectly improving their subsequent productivity… If employees feel that they are involved in the conversation, one might observe greater loyalty and productivity.

When I was involved in the fitness challenge group, I demonstrated a higher commitment to stick to my fitness and nutrition goals, so yes, I agree with Yan Huang et al — if employees are more involved in the conversation related to changes at work, such as a technology adoption, I believe that employees will be more open and susceptible to change. I’d love to hear what you think!

One thought on “Enterprise Social Networks: Driving Performance and Managing Change

  1. Really interesting ideas of how blogging can increase engagement, productivity, and even loyalty. I guess it makes sense that if one is investing time in reading and writing with others in a company, that they are going to be more connected.

    It will be interesting to see how you use your network to research this and see what companies have used ESNs to drive change in companies and ones that have been successful doing so.

    Michael is looking at some interesting ideas of what drive engagement of ESNs which might be a connection for you to explore. And Bernadita has done interesting research in how Chile tried to use CoPs to drive change in the country.

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