For many years there has been a buzz around the ‘digital workplace’. It’s a term that has many interpretations, and will be applied differently in each organisation. But common to all is a sense of collaboration and community, with business benefits that flow from having a more engaged and connected employee population.
Enterprise social networking, alongside your intranet software, can help your business to unlock these benefits. If you’re looking to take your first steps, or have been burned from a poor roll-out in the past, here are five tips to start connecting your colleagues.
1. Start small
Many roll-outs of enterprise social networking, in fact software roll-outs generally, have failed because the new software just landed on bewildered colleagues. It was just turned on one day. No one asked for this thing, and they weren’t really sure what to do with it when it appeared.
You can avoid this by starting small. Why not try with a few pilot teams or projects. Working with those colleagues will enable you to understand any pain-points and identify how they could benefit from connecting socially. These learnings will help as more teams are added, and will mean that your pilot colleagues will become advocates and help to spread the word. However, as social networks are, by their nature, social, expect colleagues to invite others and for your trial to grow organically. Don’t try to control this, it’s a sign of positive user-led uptake.
With something new like enterprise social networking, starting small can also create the ‘safe spaces’, or private groups, that allow teams to gain the confidence they might need to post something to a wider audience. If you have teams in different countries, this approach can help to avoid cultural confusion too.
2. Be grown up
The great fear of many boardrooms is that enterprise social means losing control of messaging. They fear a productivity drain too – after all, isn’t this kind of like having entire teams chatting instead of working? The reality is that for enterprise social to thrive and for you to realise its many benefits, your boardroom and organisation needs to trust its people and be committed to transparency. This is about empowering your people. Some may slip up and post the wrong thing, but ensuring you have simple helpful guidelines (not rules) will mean that your people will feel responsible and take ownership of their channel, and not be afraid to use it.
3. Don’t train
This may sound counter-intuitive. But enterprise social networking is simple to use and easy to follow. Like all the best apps, software and systems, if you need extensive training programmes, it is probably the wrong tool. Let your employees find their way and share their hacks and tips with others. It’s a much more powerful method of driving adoption and learning than forcing a top-down approach.
Of course, adding your own tips and amplifying the user tips of others is a great way to drive usage and boost wider participation. You can create a content calendar to share these and use your own hashtag that employees can adopt and follow themselves.
4. Share the successes
There will be some colleagues (possibly some senior colleagues) who will be skeptical and you will need to win over. These are the guys who want the digital workplace benefits, but regard enterprise social as frivolous. Work to win them over by sharing, either directly, or with the wider organisation, some of the business success stories that their peers are enjoying, in case study form. A great way to do this is to share the posts of business development or sales colleagues posting their latest sales success, or key points from a client meeting. Not only will that sales colleague (and their team) look great, but the shared insight will help other teams to prosper. This is particularly effective in dispersed teams or organisations, where enterprise social networking really comes into its own.
Sharing successes like these online, often remotely, is the very embodiment of the digital workplace. Busy employees sharing insight as it happens, with colleagues, from wherever they are – the café, the airport, or perhaps directly from the meeting itself.
5. Boost senior leaders’ profiles
Your most senior stakeholders are likely to be your busiest guys. They’re spread thinly and as a result, can lack the visibility that your colleagues would like. Enterprise social is perfect for addressing this, and building a real sense of connection and awareness from the C-suite to the shop floor. A CEO taking a few moments to like posts, or add a simple ‘well done!’ comment can have a powerful effect on employee morale and connection. It’s direct and public recognition, that will bond your teams and really help to drive engagement. A little time working with senior leaders to demonstrate this in action, will mean that your social network will have powerful advocates at the very top, and your social channel will become the go-to destination for your colleagues.
By enabling enterprise social networking as part of your intranet software, you will be taking a further step towards realising the benefits of your digital workplace.
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