Humanize

Find out how to make your company more human.

Making social media work for them is something that all marketing companies aim to accomplish. However, managing Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other similar accounts have kept enterprises distracted from the real purpose of social media. That’s sad because social media stands behind every successful business move in the 21st century.

The idea is to find a new concept behind the term business. Does it compare to a metal machine that just manufactures products, or does it relate to people more? Could it be that business is just like a curious human who is prone to failure?

This is precisely what Humanize wants to discover. This article took a detailed look at how the most successful businesses humanized their companies. It has several tips for marketers and other people on how to use their business to get a hold of more people.

Among other things you will learn:

  • Why all best operations should be removed;
  • Why courage is essential for a successful company; and
  • Why a particular grocery store chain reveals the salaries to all its employees.

Social media has revolutionized the way we do business.

Social media has grown in the last decade. During that growth period, it created new ways for people to communicate.

However, that’s not the only thing social media changed. It made a significant impact on the whole business world.

Social media deals a massive blow to companies, by not allowing them to promote their brand. In the past, firms catered to their name by creating a robust marketing strategy. When something was off, businesses would send their PR specialist to turn things around by issuing a misleading statement.

That’s not possible anymore because now everyone can get online and share his thoughts about a particular brand.

Because of all these social media sites, companies no longer have full control over the brands they represent. They changed the way corporations put their messages out in public.

In the past, during the time of newspapers and television, it was easy for businesses to interact with their customers. All it took was a great message, spread through the right channel.

Nevertheless, the appearance of real-time communication platforms drove traditional media out of business. Newspapers became useless in the face of platforms like Twitter who can report news so much faster.

Last but not least, social media made one more crucial change to the business world. It started undermining the standard methods upon which companies are structured.

Several years ago, trade organizations and accomplished coalitions worked by giving away specific benefits like networking and education. They received regular dues in exchange for that.

Today, people can turn towards social media which is on the internet and is free. By doing that, they are lowering the importance of these so-called organizations, which results in revolutionary changes in all fields.

It’s clear that businesses need to discover new and improved ways to communicate with their customers. Social media initiated that change; however, the real question is - Are companies trying to find new ways?

Entrenched, conventional practices discourage companies from developing more innovative approaches.

Lots of enterprises are still old-fashioned and unable to keep up with these changes. Even the whole social media boom hasn’t shocked them enough, and they are still trying to make old practices work. By this, I mean that they are still using classic techniques that were considered best, decades ago.

Even though these practices can still offer a decent advantage, firms can become complacent because they are unable to grasp the complexity of individual situations.

For instance, strategic planning is an excellent example of a practice still used by many companies. Through it, a 5-year plan for the future is created; however, these plans never last.

Why is that? Because you can’t plan the reality, its way to complicated and hard to predict, which is especially true in this age of social media

An additional adverse side to these traditional practices is that they keep pushing companies to create a compartmentalized system. Dividing the firm like that takes away its vision for the whole picture.

For instance, look at human resource management which is one of the pillars of traditional methods. Having a system of hierarchy, where employees are separated into different departments is not unfamiliar to most companies. Each person of each district has a particular task that he needs to complete and there is a manager there who controls the whole process.

Labor division can be excellent for increased productivity. However, a business that is too divided will alienate employees. Departments won’t communicate with each other, which will limit the flow of ideas around the company.

Additionally, these alleged best practices tend to formalize some of the processes in the company, which manages to reduce the creative thinking across all the departments.

Have you ever been excited to be a part of a strategic planning session? Have you ever been able to be yourself in a rigorous, formal interview?

This is exactly where the problem lays with traditional methods. They want to maintain order at all times, pushing back ambiguity. What companies who use them don’t realize is that uncertainty is essential when it comes to creative thinking and innovation.

To adjust to the social media age, businesses need to tap into their humanity.

Don’t be surprised, but having the right mindset is essential for success and innovation. Adjusting the way you speak about your company can increase the efficiency of your business.

It might seem weird because traditional business ideas have thought us to look at any company like it was a giant machine.

Consider all the business terms we use on a daily basis, we are always running organizations and managing human resources, which are all very mechanical terms.

The term business organization is described by even more rigid and technical terms like division, unit, team, and others.

Keep in mind that in an organization the structures mentioned above are all constructed by small, specific components that have defined roles in a vast system. This is similar to how cogs come together within a machine.

The metaphors are necessary to explain terms from the business sphere, which is quite reasonable. At the times of the Industrial Revolution, machines created a massive change for humanity. However, that was a long time ago, and that sort of language is not appropriate for today’s world because it doesn’t correctly explain this new social media age.

The reason behind that is the fact that humans are behind social media. Through it, we can share our interests, beliefs, desires, and activities all across the internet.

In the last few years, the human aspect has been put against the old-fashioned machine-like way of thinking. Offices are limited because they are active during office hours, but social media can be accessed 24/7. So, is it possible for companies to respond and defend themselves against evil rumors and scandals that can surround their brand, while they are out of office?

Honestly, they can’t, so they have to adapt to today’s world. Social media is getting stronger every day, which means every business will have to become more “human” if they want to succeed.

Even though every company will follow their path, there are four critical goals that every leader can use to humanize their enterprise. They are trustworthiness, courageousness, generativeness, and openness.

Keep reading to discover additional ways that will help your business adapt to the social media age.

To improve the culture of openness at your company, strive towards clarity rather than control.

As we discussed, the first step that leads towards humanizing a business is to make it more open. That is done by decentralizing and giving employees the chance to express themselves.

Is this step really that important? Of course. In the social media era, centralized control systems stand no chance, because customers expect instant feedback. They won’t wait for a committee to approve all the emails and posts.

Nevertheless, even though flexibility is essential, giving away full control isn’t the way to go. The most successful examples of decentralization are the ones that managed to find the perfect balance between openness and control. That is done by stating boundaries and then allowing employees to work within them.

The Google’s 20 percent time rule is an excellent example for this, even though it’s not really connected to social media. This rule inspires workers to take one day off their week to work on an independent project.

Keep in mind that when you are promoting openness, setting a clear vision for the company is essential.

This will let you delegate tasks to your employees without controlling all their work time.

What’s the best way to deliver the vision for your company to your employees? Writing down several vital principles would be the best option.

For instance, the company Nordstrom practices one rule for all new employees: “Use your best judgment in all situations.” It’s a short rule, so it’s easy to remember and use anytime a particular decision is being made.

Putting these principles to use is the perfect way of achieving cohesion and stability, without making employees feel like they are being controlled all the time.

All in all, openness in the company leads to a culture of trust. Read on to see how your business can create trusting relationships within the organization.

Create a culture of trust by promoting transparency within your company.

In today’s social media age, trust is of utmost importance. Think about it, would executives be able to let social media managers handle PR if they don’t trust them?

So, how can this culture of trust be created? To start off, more transparency is needed. A lot of firms look at transparency and all they see is a significant threat. In their mind they are thinking, do we really need to disclose all this information out there, where everyone can see it? What if an employee accidentally shares some trade secrets?

However, companies need to look at this from a different angle. Sharing information can be quite a smart move If they play their cards right.

Having the right perspective about sharing information will mean that you don’t look at it as a cause for concern. Sometimes sharing information means that people who received that information can produce better results which will benefit everyone.

For instance, the grocery chain Whole Foods, made a risky decision to share salary information internally, to all their workers. Most companies are very rigorous when it comes to this because they believe if employees look at each other’s paychecks it can be bad for morale. However, this strategy worked wonders for Whole Foods.

Why is that? Let’s imagine a worker notices that a colleague is earning more. He will then try to discover why that happened, and what he will need to do to get equal pay. In this case, telling the salary amounts to everyone will motivate those workers to improve their productivity, which will earn them a promotion or a raise.

This approach is connected to our discussion about open systems. Transparency can mean that the right people will receive the correct information at the right time. Also, they can do this, while still avoiding the long and centralized bureaucratic process.

To promote innovation within your company, embrace differences and practice inclusion.

The third principle of humanizing a business is generativeness.

As a principle, this is one of the hardest ones, but it’s also one of the most important ones. Everyone who is dedicated to innovation and raising profits has to master it.

Where to begin? Keep in mind that diversity is essential for innovation which means that generativeness can be achieved by gathering a diverse group of employees.

By having a diverse workforce, the company can consider different views and approaches, which is exactly how fantastic, out of the ordinary ideas appear.

Take a look at Florence, during the Renaissance period. The famous and wealthy Medici family imposed a specific culture that was based on innovation and creativity. They did this by organizing events where a significant number of scientists and artists from all around the world came together.

This proves that diversity is much more than a simple public relations method. Create a version of the Florentine Renaissance for your company. Your business will look great in the eyes of the public, and it will incite innovation at the same time.

However, don’t go overboard because it’s still important to keep diversity visible. Companies do this by allowing workers to act like themselves.

How so? Business owners believe that a social media behavior can be harmful to the company image. Based on that, should workers be allowed to talk about and share things about the company on their social media profiles? What happens if they say something unprofessional?

Don’t worry about that. If the company values diversity, then it should accept the fact that all employees are different individuals and each has a different personality.

Even though no business can control everything their workers say, the promotion they get from social media will always outweigh the possible risk of a public relations disaster.

Promoting a sense of collaboration will produce multidimensional growth at your company.

Now that we know how diversity influences generativeness, it’s time to mention that promoting collaboration can also improve the generativeness in the company.

To achieve that, every company has to work on a narrative about the brand they represent. It’s not enough to have a great product because customers need to get a clear picture of what the company is really about. Is there a story behind your products? How do you manage to run a successful business? How can customers contribute towards the shaping of the brand?

Nokia is a clear example. They integrated open collaboration for their processes by using IdeasProject, a proprietary platform.

IdeasProject has a fascinating way of handling collaboration. They create a platform where customers can suggest ideas about Nokia’s products or services. The platform also allows Nokia to share some inside thoughts that are not set up yet.

Doing this gives Nokia a substantial advantage. Gathering customer thoughts allows them to come up with brand new ideas. On the other hand, the public is given a chance to design new products that will be based on concepts that initially came out of Nokia.

This is exactly what being a generative company stands for. It’s all about the big picture because it helps generate multi-dimensional growth that’s beneficial for the whole system, not just the company.

Now that we saw all the merits of promoting collaboration, your company still needs to aim towards the next level of transparency. How can your business be more courageous?

Courageous companies know how to learn from their mistakes and embrace failure.

In most cases, when an employee comes up with a great idea, someone from the management brushes it off because it was “too risky.”

Reacting like that is what drags down innovation and growth. The only way to overcome it is by being more courageous.

Look at Netflix; they are a clear example of a company that always takes risks. Anything from their flat subscription fee to their original shows is unique to a company like Netflix. They weren’t following anyone’s model but believed in their ideas and took risks. The results as we know were tremendous.

However, this is not true for every company out there. In many cases, experimentation led to serious mistakes.

Nevertheless, companies need to learn how to handle failure properly. The only way that success can be assured is if the company learns from past mistakes.

On that note, the perfect way to learn from failures is if the company engages in open-ended conversations. It will be a tough task because most businesses handle their meetings like this: a problem gets put on the table; then there is a discussion, and after that, a solution is formed.

To really learn from a particular mistake everyone needs to be open-minded towards an unexpected conversation, a conversation that no one saw coming.

For instance, look for the necessary solutions at the start of the conversation, instead of at the end. Then answer this question: how can the mentioned solutions raise additional questions about the company’s processes?

Also, admitting a mistake goes a long way. It’s hard to feel right about failure; however, it’s crucial that you embrace it if you want to learn.

The idea behind this view came from Larry Page, the co-founder of Google. He was adamant in his beliefs that he wants to run a company that does too much and moves too quickly, instead of a group that is cautious and never takes risks.

Create space for experimentation at every level in your company.

However, accepting failure is not the only aspect of courage. Once you get over the failure, you need to come up with a way to move forward, which is done by additional experimentation.

The company needs to experiment so it can find which things can be beneficial for it.

Managers who don’t enjoy taking risky decisions usually stay away from this approach. However, that’s quite normal because the success of a company is measured by performance and immediate results, not by innovation. Think about it, have you ever heard your boss telling you that failing is ok, as long as you fail at something new and different?

If you want to experiment, then you need to create space for it. Google has a 20% time policy which led to the creation of Gmail. This proves that all businesses should aim towards experimentation.

Remember, companies don’t need to imitate Google and their risky policies. Everyone can create their way.

For instance, the software company NFI Studios manages one-day site development where programmers rush to finish crucial elements of the product. Considering the time investment is very small, employees don’t have any pressure about doing a correct job. This gives the company a perfect experimentation process where workers can fail without costing the company a lot of resources and time.

All these methods are useful, however, the only way experimentation can be appropriately handled is if your company comes up with their approach.

For instance, take one email marketing campaign and develop several subject lines for it. Then measure click-through and open rates which will help you come up with the right decisions about formulating subject lines for all future emails.

The only way you can account for experimentation is if you can measure its effects.

Keep in mind that whichever way you go, the decision to humanize your business is up to you.

Final Summary

Even though social media transforms companies and makes them more human, a lot of businesses are reluctant to accept these changes. The fact that every firm has to create a personal approach to adapt to the social media age is correct. However, there are four general goals that every business leader can follow: openness, trustworthiness, generativeness, and courageousness.

Actionable advice:

When you start using mechanical metaphors about your company, its time to take a step back.

Find the reason why you are so technical and how it affects your business. Start using simple words, which will cater to the human aspects of your business. Consider concepts like desire, emotions, and family.

TEASoftware