It’s been a while since I’ve blooged. I’m sure you’ve managed without me! One reason I’ve been so busy was my role in developing and chairing Melcrum’s Digital Communications Summit, towards the end of last month. It was (if I do say so myself) a great two days. We had a real mix of companies, industries and geographies in the room which made for some powerful discussion and networking, as we came together to explore the notion of using digital and social within the workplace (and outside!) to amplify the voices of our employees – as ambassadors, as advisors to the business, as collaborators with one another.

As always, with every speaker, I learned something new – and every speaker was superb! Will McInnes author and MD of NixonMcInnes was a high point for me, but amazing speakers from the likes of Deutsche Bank, Coca Cola Enterprises, Unilever, Aviva and others showed, time and again, that digital can be a powerful channel for bringing employees together and taking our businesses forward.  There were definitely some common themes and teachings that rose to the surface again and again, that I share here in the hopes that they might be of use:

1.    Start small. Pilots are powerful and serve so many purposes – enabling us to test and learn without failing big, to engage early adopters, and to gather data to validate further investment or participation from leadership who can sometimes be skeptical, or downright afraid, of social within business!

2.    Don’t be afraid to ask employees for ideas. They use social in many forms outside of work so why wouldn’t they have ideas for how it could work AT work?! Creating advisory councils of employees and stakeholder partners (think HR, IT, Legal) was something that a number of our speakers had doe and, as a result, they’d sourced ideas that would never have surfaced otherwise and also had a group of evangelists to start the ball rolling once they decided which projects to move forward

3.    Don’t make it a generational thing. Will made a compelling argument that you cannot make social generational. It’s not just about the young people in the organization; there is an appetite and an opportunity for all employees to benefit from social and digital, whether they’ve been with you for 20 years or 2 months. Assumptions about employee generational segments can be fatal to the success of digital initiatives and each segment has a valid perspective that can only make these resources stronger if we bring them in early and use them as sounding boards. The concept of mentoring programs came up a number of times – pairing tech-savvy employees with leaders who need some gentle coaching or a longer-term employee with a ‘newbie’ to discuss the structure and processes of the company and brainstorm new ways of working using new technology.

These are just 3 things that resonated with me. But there were so many and those of you who saw the Twitter feed from the event will no doubt have picked up even more. It was a great couple of days – so thank you to all our speakers and all our attendees!