If there is one thing you should know about me is that I love food and people. Any opportunity to find people and food is time well spent! I previously worked in a large corporate that seemed to have endless catered meetings with consistent (and delicious) leftovers. A food loving colleague and I saw this problem as an opportunity. An opportunity to divert food waste and also enjoy a cheeky snack. We would exchange texts like we were on a covert mission.
‘Level 4 small kitchen. Go!’
Within 5 minutes we would have a power chat, eat delicious leftovers and feel energised to get back to work.
We soon realised this was a bigger task than just ourselves and created a group on Yammer (later we migrated to another enterprise collaboration tool, Facebook Workplace) called ‘Food Fighters.’
The group’s sole purpose was for people to share leftover food with a picture, time and location. Then people flocked like seagulls to the food. It was magical! A solid group of similar people started to form and we grew to about 280!
Another group I started on Workplace called the Social Good Society. It reached over 1500 people with posts almost daily from people across the business inspiring us with their social impact passions. Even the CEO was on the page!
Tribes of people who are passionate about doing good is critical to sustaining change and keeping momentum in a workplace. There are strong positive outcomes of this including:
- More connected and engaged employees
- A culture of innovation
- Momentum for business and social change.
Here are my top 5 tips to creating and maintaining social impact tribes in the office:
1. Create digital communities
As shown above, online platforms like Facebook Workplace can help connect people for collaboration as well as purpose. If you do not have this, emails can work although they can be clunky. I once created an AgTech bulletin for people all across the business to understand the latest agricultural tech trends. This got the attention of senior leaders and helped them to build the business case for change.
2. Think beyond the office
Sometimes going to Meetups outside the office can link you in with people who know people at work or may even be from work. The League of Intrapreneurs often have events and resources to help people who want to change a business from within.
3. Drink more coffee
Well you don’t technically have to drink more coffee. But organising one coffee date per month with someone who shares your passion and desire for social change can spark new conversations and new connections. Having someone who can keep you accountable is so important for building momentum for social change.
4. Start a covert project
If you have been wanting to create a product, service or initiative that has measurable social and business outcomes, then make it happen! Scope out the type of people you will need (project managers, finance, marketing etc) and then reach out to existing networks to see if anyone is interested. This could be through graduate networks, diversity groups or other special interest groups that meet regularly.
10% time is widely used in many start ups, allowing employees to work on their passion projects for 10% of their working week. In fact, at Google, one of my favourite things came out of 10% time. Gmail!
Ask your boss if there is scope for it and tell them about the other people you have spoken to who are willing to be involved. It shows there is momentum and you’re using your initiative.
I have pitched a few covert projects to my bosses and they have almost always supported me. You just need to reassure them that it won’t impact your day job, that it will have a defined end period and you will be able to present the progress to the team or leadership as required.
5. Read up!
Read Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. There is a whole section in there about how tribes and communities were critical to the survival of Homo Sapiens. Learning more about how we establish tribes and norms as a human race can help devise more tactics and plans to continue to build your tribe.
Follow our Planet B page on Linkedin to join a growing tribe!