Many times we portray business as a faceless entity without properly expressing it as an entity of human needs and expectations.
The ironic chasm is that sometimes when people get organized as a business the subsequent behavior doesn't always seem human.
Businesses get criticized for chasing profit at the cost of human needs. Budget cuts, displacement of people, internal power struggles, corporate speak and spin feeds the impression that profits come before people. Ask any group of employees of any business whether or not the business considers their needs as a priority over achieving a profit and the likely answers would be NO.
The challenge for any business is to find the balance between meeting the human need while achieving profitable growth. So which comes first, meeting the human need or profit? Without achieving a profit how can a business survive and meet at least the economic needs of people? Without people committed to the business purpose how can a business produce profits for its shareholders? These are age old questions that constantly challenge the art and science of management methods and organizational dynamics. The evolution of management practices and theories has attempted to address the human need but for the most part has failed.
Do social networks add value to these challenges?
Social networks are creating new dynamics and opportunities for businesses across all segments of industry globally. Could the human resource function of management be enhanced? A recent study from Communispace titled "Move Over Maslow: How fulfilling 6 human social needs creates business value from social networks" examines these issues and found the following:
"The answers come from social science and the study of basic human needs - mapped to what's happening now in Web 2.0. (Fast forward Maslow and his famous hierarchy of human needs in the 1943 paper, "A Theory of Human Motivation.") Communispace's hypothesis: people are looking to fulfill six essential social needs online, and the organizations that understand this and build the right kind of social networking opportunity are more likely to create deeper emotional bonds than usually exist between companies and customers."
"In the report, Meeting Business Needs by Meeting Social Needs: Why Size Matters Communispace decodes which social needs are met by participating in social networks."
"The Six Social Needs People Seek in Social Networks"
1. Expressing personal identity: online social networks provide people with the ultimate tool for defining and redefining themselves, as evidenced in profile pages on Facebook and MySpace.
2. Status and self-esteem: the need for autonomy, recognition and achievement are essential to our sense of self-worth and are fulfilled in online communities, blogs, and social networks that provide a way to develop and manage a virtual reputation.
3. Giving and getting help: people have a need to both seek and provide help to others.Mutual assistance between strangers is a phenomenon that has been uniquely enabled by the Internet.
4. Affiliation and belonging: online communities are becoming the way people find, create and connect with others "just like me" - people who share similar tastes, sensibilities, orientations or interests.
5. Sense of community: a sense of belonging or affiliation alone is not equivalent to a true sense of community. Achieving a real sense of community requires long-lasting reciprocal relationships and a mutual commitment to the needs of the community as a whole.
Communispace tapped its other research on social networking behavior and found that when companies meet the full range of social needs, they gain trust and deep insights into their consumers and community members - marketing nirvana. And when companies go still further to actively embrace and act on people's ideas they fulfill a sixth social need:
6. Reassurance of value and self worth. People want to be reassured of their worth and value, and seek confirmation that what they say and do matters to others and has an impact on the world around them. Meeting all 5 + 1 of these social needs generally requires the level of intimacy and facilitation that are the hallmarks of smaller, invitation only online communities.
While this report focuses on the social needs of customers the same principles apply to meeting the social needs of employees, the common denominator is people regardless of label. There is and always has been a chasm between business purpose and human needs. Closing the gap between the two requires innovative thinking combined with an understanding of the human social need and subsequent behaviors that can be facilitated with advanced technology, a social matrix.
The adoption of social networks for business purposes will fall into five main segments of leadership attributes; innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards. Which leadership attribute will customers and employees migrate to most? Which best describes your business?
What say you?
(Follow the link in this post if your interested in getting the full report from Communispace)