John Stepper writes “10 Things I Believe About Work” as part of the cornerstone of his new blog. I recently heard John speak at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference and think he is well worth listening to.
His 6th point states, “I believe social business platforms enable better management. They let everyone shape their own reputation through public contribution. [Emphasis added]. That visibility, in turn, provides greater access to opportunities. Managers will no longer need to – or be able to – serve as patrons, arbiters, and gatekeepers.”
While I agree that social business platforms give employees the tools to shape their own reputation, and this can be beneficial, I also think that it’s a learned ability and doesn’t necessarily come naturally. Fear of blowing your own horn, or sticking your neck out can squelch participation. Individuals need to recognize the value of their contributions and feel safe to speak up. Organizations need to nurture engagement and recognize that personalities may share in different ways.
“Smart people want to give their best and as they learn more, they learn that they need to learn a lot more before they start sharing. They learn some more and they learn they need to learn some more. What they forget is that most of the expertise that they already have is either becoming “obvious” to them or better yet, going into their “background thinking.”
Becoming obvious means that there is nothing special about it.
Becoming their background thinking means that they don’t even realize that it’s knowledge. It becomes part of them. For example think about alphabets and multiplication tables. It is in our background thinking and we don’t think about that as knowledge.”
My point is that when you are creating a truly collaborative environment you need to recognize and diminish the subtle encumbrances to sharing. Help employees see the value in ways that are meaningful to them. Help them feel safe, comfortable, and of service.