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Creating an environment for social business

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Creating an environment for social business

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My last post spoke about the importance of behaviours when you’re creating a social business.  It is these that essentially form your culture, which in turn determines whether you really are social or not.  If you want your organisation to be collaborative for instance, then collaboration is a behaviour you need your employees to adopt.  To do so (or not) is a definite choice that they make each day.

In order to create those critical behaviours, you need to provide employees with a work environment that encourages them.  It isn’t enough to have the leaders in your business trumpeting the virtues of social business, because 99% of the time, your leaders aren’t going to be present when the choice over which behaviour to adopt is taken in any given circumstance.

The key therefore is the work environment.  How can you go about creating a work environment that fosters the right behaviours?  You need an environment that gives people the right cues on a daily basis.  There are a number of levers you can employ to help you.  Here are a few of the more effective ones.

Organisational levers

These are things like your org chart.  Now I know you might be thinking that these are abstract artifacts from a bygone age, but how we are organised has a big impact on how we behave.  How many offices for instance locate employees according to department, whilst at the same time expecting cross-departmental collaboration?  Even if that demarcation is only virtual, in/out group psychology will still ensure people feel they belong more to ‘their’ team than the others.

Workplace design

This is a whole topic on its own, and a huge amount of research has gone into building workspaces that encourage the kind of behaviours at the core of social business.  Whether it’s the shape of the desks or the location of the coffee machine, it will have an impact on how your employees behave.

Getting the rewards right

As with workplace design, this is another area that has received a whole lot of attention over the past decade or so.  How are people motivated, and what are you offering them in order to secure the kind of behaviours you want?  What kind of behaviours are rewarded in your organisation?  Are you hoping for collaboration but rewarding individual performance for instance?


Closely linked to rewards is measurement.  Most organisations now have key performance indicators against which performance is measured.  Are these metrics the kind that will support the behaviours you wish to see in your organisation?

These are some of the key levers at your disposal when looking to create the kind of behaviours, and as such the kind of organisation you want.

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