Chapter 12: The Groundswell Inside your Company


In Chapter 12, The Groundswell Inside your Company, Li and Bernoff (2011), examined how companies can engage with their employees using internal groundswell and “throughout corporations around the world, employees are connecting on internal social networks, collaborating on wikis, and contributing to idea exchanges” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 235). Connecting with employees is as important as connecting with customers because internal groundswell can benefit touch on objectives such as listening, talking, energizing, supporting or embracing, which are explained in Chapter 7. Making employees feel involved by allowing them to make suggestions, pitch ideas, or permit feedback can give them a sense of responsibility, accomplishment and importance in the organization.

The textbook provides several examples such as Best Buy’s Blue shirt nation case, and Bell Canada case. These cases display how wikis, blogs and social networks within organizations can increase productivity, which are all new ways for people to connect and work together (Li & Bernoff, 2011).

There are three strategies for nurturing the internal groundswell:

  • Promoting a listening culture from top down management- employees need to know that management will listen to their opinions and build that trust.
  • Ease and encourage participation with incentives- Having an engaged management team will ease the process but incentives encourage participation as well.
  • Find and empower the rebels in your organization- Management should think of processes, controls and policies and guidelines in. place in order to be ready for any challenge and look at it as an opportunity rather than a threat (Li & Bernoff, 2011).

Tesla Motors is an American company that designs and manufactures luxury electric vehicles. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla is known for his Twitter presence to aid their supply chain. In fact, they have created their own social media platform- Tesla Motors Supplier Portal, that allows Tesla to communicate with everyone along the supply chain to provide collaboration, clarity, efficiency and improved productivity (Naomi Lai, 2016).


Tesla views engagement as more than ‘nice to have’. It is a must to have in order attract and keep the best employees. Higher employee engagement leads to better customer experience. Efron and Bednarski shared their success of using Tesla360 survey to strengthen Tesla as a whole. This was distributed to every employee and had a participation rate of 91%. Efron and Bednarski provided tips to better understand employee engagement to improve a workplace:

  • Get people on board to use a top-down approach- enthusiasm from leaders goes a long way to win support from each level of organization.
  • Communicate about your engagement survey using the same channels that you normally would- Tesla did not use one size fits all communication strategy to announce Tesla360 survey to its employees. The HR team went to pre shift meetings at manufacturing plants and engineers’ all hands meeting and communication to corporate employees through channels such as emails.
  • Eliminate barriers to participation- Tesla360 had 18 questions, about 3 minutes to complete and was mobile enabled so survey could be taken anywhere.
  • Design the survey to reflect your organization’s brand- Tesla360 was clean and sleek to match its brand.
  • Keep it anonymous- Anonymity is key for employees to be honest.
  • Be timely and transparent- Participation updates were sent to drive participation. Results were releases organization wide within 2 weeks along with guidance on how to interpret data.
  • Make data accessible- A dashboard was created to present the data which enabled employees to look shallowly or deeply into the data.
  • Be flexible- Tesla had planned for designated HR Business Partners to moderate team conversations about the data, however managers were enthusiastic to lead follow up action planning sessions that the original plan was not feasible. Training documents and videos were then provided by Efron and Bednarski to facilitate their own planning sessions.
  • Discuss the data- managers facilitated discussions among their teams by asking questions such as scaled questions and “What surprised you about the data?”.
  • Use the data- Tesla required every action planning session to end with one action-one change that the team would make on its analysis on Tesla360 results and were recorded by managers and could track progress towards the goal.

Tesla plans to build on its Tesla360 survey and will look to leverage the data to better engage its employees because as Efron mentioned ” Caring for people is the right thing to do, but caring for people also translates into business results.” (Alexander, 2015).

This shows how Tesla made the employees feel important and involved in order to drive better performance results and proved this through their survey, with strong and active participation from employee and management.


Alexander, S. (2015, September 11). How Tesla Engages its Employees to Drive Business Results. Retrieved from Modern Workforce by EVERWISE:

Lai, N. (2016, July 12). Tesla: Using Social Media to Maximize their Supply chain Communication. Retrieved from Waterloo Supply Chain Management:

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Press.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s