A Playbook for Leading in the Facebook Age


Today’s top leaders know that every business is a social business. Inspiring great leaders and employees in the modern workplace requires a deep understanding of the benefits of social media. Nurturing top performers today should borrow from the many user experiences and shifts in employee motivation that today’s constantly connected, social media culture has brought to the surface.

Leaders should learn from popular experiences from the consumer Web and draw on these for their own playbook for successful leadership. Many businesses have been launched over the last decade to support these goals, making it much easier for a leader to shift into this new employee motivation paradigm. From collaboration software to technology designed to motivate employee behavior in real time, these tools provide the modern leader the opportunity to exceed business goals.

However, it is necessary for executives and managers to understand that these tools require proper usage and must be fully embraced by their company to have the largest impact. The five points outlined below provide business leaders with a sturdy framework from which they can build a successful leadership program that is relevant in today’s connected, digital world.

1. Embrace the social enterprise. Modern business leaders must understand how to apply relevant social networking experiences to their own organizations. Today’s workforce — especially employees in the millennial generation — is used to engaging with social experiences in every aspect of their lives. Leaders should not only encourage usage of social collaboration tools such as Chatter, Yammer and Tibbr, but should focus on how to drive engagement within these experiences. It’s important that leaders see their social enterprise not as siloed applications but focus on connecting these user experiences across employee, partner, developer and customer networks.

2. Focus on employee growth. Social media experiences are rapidly changing. Employees today want opportunity for growth that comes quicker than in an annual performance review. Younger employees are used to the real-time feedback found in social experiences. Leaders should create programs and teams within their organizations to reward engagement and performance with ongoing opportunities for growth, such as access to programs and executives. By sticking to these programs and making them transparent across their teams, they will not only drive greater performance out of their top employees, but they will also motivate everyone to work harder and more creatively.

3. Status is greater than bonus. Leaders today must understand what motivates employees. Financial rewards are no longer the best motivator for top employee performance. While money is one factor, employees today are more motivated by non-monetary rewards and a fun, engaging workplace instead of costly gifts.

According to a June study published in Psychology Today by employee motivation research firm Make Their Day, 70 percent of employees said they value no-cost rewards such as recognition, status and virtual gifts above monetary rewards — up from 57 percent in 2007. The gamification industry is largely centered around motivating employee behavior using these no-cost rewards for engagement.

4. Nurture mobile collaboration. Workforces are more mobile than ever. As telecommuting becomes common, leaders face a new challenge: How to manage employees who they may see face-to-face once a week or even once a year. Mobile enterprise applications connect employees on the go and enable leaders to have more visibility into the productivity and performance of their disparate workforce.

5. Fun matters. The factors behind motivating the modern workforce are rapidly changing. According to the Make Their Day study, 90 percent of employees find a fun work environment highly motivating. In other words, engaging employees throughout the workday — and creating an entertaining atmosphere where innovation and hard work is rewarded — is the key to maintaining a loyal and productive workforce. Leaders today not only need to focus on setting goals for their organization, but also building a fun, vibrant culture that inspires employees to perform their best.

While not every employee will be motivated by the same type of leader, there are processes, systems and ideas that leaders today should embrace to be successful. By incorporating the key ideas behind the consumer Web for the enterprise, leaders can effectively motivate top performers while driving the most value out of every employee.

Ken Comee is CEO of Badgeville, a gamification platform. He can be reached at editor@CLOmedia.com.