Tags: blog, collaboration, digital workplace, engagement, governance, social media, strategy, wiki
I read with interest Jane McConnell’s blog posts on governance in the digital workplace. Jane’s Digital Workplace Trends 2012 survey showed how a strategic decision-making body can increase the chances of creating an effective digital workplace.
Now, before I go any further I have a confession to make. I was the BT Intranet manager for nine years. During that time I helped transform BT’s intranet into one benchmarked independently and accepted as one of the best globally. I also was heavily involved in developing the wider digital workplace which I define as ‘work is what you do, not where you go to’ to support BT’s ambitions.
My intranet role was in Group Communications as part of a team focused on intranet, internet, web publishing, design and development. Being in Group Communications felt naturally the best place to be to improve the intranet. It was seen by other parts of the business as right too and our authority was accepted and not challenged for managing information online and to work directly with our IT partners on business needs.
However as more tools were used for online processes and activities – room bookings, training, performance management – so the difficulties of managing these became more apparent. To brand these tools with a BT mark was very involved and conflicted with an ‘out of the box’ and ‘no customising’ approaches taken by IT.
Combine that with a defensive reaction to introducing wikis to share knowledge, podcasts to show and tell how to do things and most importantly blogs which made every employee potentially a communicator across the BT and you can see the landscape is changing for communicators.
I believe despite the success of the previous years where most successful intranets have been managed by communications that it is time to think differently as digital workplaces expand that role and function.
The digital workplace is more than a news channel or document store. It can become the natural way of working so everyone is more productive and your organisation more efficient with:
- People working from any location as well as their normal place of work
- Everyone able to collaborate, search and complete tasks
- Individuals choosing tools – RSS, mobile, etc. – that help them
- IT infrastructure giving the same or similar experience
- Physical workplaces to meet future needs and ways of working
- Organisations measuring benefits and encouraging the digital workplace
This expands the role beyond information management traditionally championed by communicators who own the intranet. It also needs more than one person and it needs people who represent other key functions within the organisation.
Who do you think should own the digital workplace?
Tags: blog, collaboration, communication, engagement, governance, intranet, social media, value
In my last post ‘How to improve communications using collaborative tools‘ I gave my view on the corporate environment needed to encourage internal communications professionals to welcome collaboration tools being used by employees. I also gave examples of collaboration tools that can help improve internal communications. This post covers how blogs can help improve internal communications.
A corporate blogging tool can help employees share ideas and opinions. It’s not just used to comment upon internal communications. Blog posts can also help employees doing similar work or having a similar interest in different business units to save time and effort. Employees can find someone else’s views who they do not know to help them solve a problem or speed up a task.
And blogs are something employees are becoming more familiar with on the internet and expect to see on their intranet. For example in the UK many of the BBC reporters blog what they report on TV and radio. There are also many bloggers who post on subjects of interest to employees, whether work-related or of personal interest.
The main point for internal communicators to understand is blogs are established, accepted, and understood on the internet by the same people, employees, who are the audience within an organisation who receive news. So, I recommend a few points internal communicators consider:
- Be accepting of this changing environment and welcome it as some progressive internal communicators have done successfully.
- Don’t feel threatened and react negatively by asking for posts with different views to be removed.
- Widen your scope to include blogs in your communications planning.
- You communicate the corporate message but it is not the only message that can be communicated.
- Treat employees as people with opinions and views they have a right to express, be listened and responded to constructively.
- Take a wider, more strategic view, of all communications and communicators.
- Engage with bloggers and comment on their posts and explain your point of view.
- Posts on blogs can act as an early warning device of a small problem to be resolved before it becomes a much larger and difficult problem to resolve later.
- Posting and commenting on blogs increases employees’ engagement. If they didn’t care, why would they blog?
- Blog posts should help shape corporate values and future direction.
Contact me to find out how I can help you:
- implement a blogging tool
- have the right terms and conditions of use
- communicate better using collaborative tools
- improve engagement of employees
- measure the benefits to be gained
My next post in this series will be on discussion forums.
Tags: blog, collaboration, communication, engagement, intranet, plan, social media, strategy
In my last post ‘Is your culture right for collaboration tools to improve internal communications?‘ I gave my view on the corporate environment needed to encourage internal communications professionals to welcome collaboration tools being used by employees. Internal communications need to realise they are not the sole people who can communicate using the intranet. Neither are their official channels the only route to communicate with other employees.
To embrace these challenges I suggest redefining the role of internal communications. It is set in a model that is fast changing and risks becoming irrelevant. The days when only managers or CEOs communicated business news and changes to their employees using internal communications will become extinct like dinsoaurs. They need to adapt to the changes and recognise, like some progressive comms people have already done, the need to evolve and move forward and not resist until the bitter end.
I see the role for internal communications changing in this new world where employees want to communicate and collaborate with other employees as liberating and giving greater influence to the organisation. Why?
Take a step back from the day to day activity of preparing communications, checking channels are operating OK, and which day to send out a corporate message. Think more about the value communications can have on the organisation, how employees perform, the direction it sets.
Encouraging employees to give their views on communications, even setting the agenda and starting communications on the organisation’s performance, ways of working can help encourage employee engagement.
Get more involved in the organisation’s strategy by influencing how communications in general, not just corporate messages, show the pulse of the employee’s attitude and engagement. Work with HR and the intranet team to use the information on blogs, discussion forums and online polls to identify hot spots that are important to employees – what is working well, what could be improved – and help communicate through channels that employees choose to use with helpful information.
This will show the organisation is listening rather than just talking all the time to employees. It also means employees use their time for more productive activities if their concerns have been accepted and acted upon more quickly.
Having a wider view of what is happening across the organisation brings a better insight to how its aims can be achieved from an internal communications perspective. A more accurate and complete picture given will mean other senior leaders taking notice and seriously considering any points or issues raised by internal comms.
It will mean more major business projects and change programmes will want to involve internal communications professionals at the start so the right priority and consideration is given to their views. It enables internal communications to start setting more of the agenda that will improve the organisation and employees’ engagement with it by its understanding of how employees communicate and collaborate to maximum effect.
The main focus has been on the content of the communication being word-perfect and grammatically correct with the channels working fine for delivering it to the audiences on time. The focus shouldn’t be on just that, important though it is to avoid badly worded, confusing, messages. Instead it should widen to cover the wider impact of any communications.
So if you threw a stone into a pond it wouldn’t just be the size of the splash the stone made but the ripple effect that went as far as the edges of the pond. Instead of success being the perfect execution of the stone being thrown, it is also the number and size of the ripples and how far they spread across the pond.
This can be achieved by starting online polls to ask for employees’ views, raising new topics in a discussion forums, responding with contructive comments to blog posts giving different views. The aim is to explain and educate employees to understand better what has been communicated. It is not to tell them they are wrong and only the internal comms sponsored message is right.
4. How to do this?
All of this is easier to read about than to do. Don’t worry, I have first hand experience for several years of achieving this as well as helping other organisations with advice and detailed information. If you want further help from me please contact me or find out more about me and what I can offer.
My next blog will give more practical examples of how collaboration tools can help improve internal communications.
Tags: best practice, blog, collaboration, communication, engagement, intranet, social media, strategy
I believe many internal communications professionals are not appreciating the benefits that collaboration tools can bring. Instead they are seen as a threat to traditional channels used for communicating corporate messages to employees. In my previous post ‘Can collaboration tools improve internal communications?‘ I disagreed with this attitude.
Changing this approach is not a simple task. Before you can consider using any collaboration tools you need to have the right culture within your organisation. I’m afraid the approach of “I’ll start a blog to change the culture” is doomed to failure. You need to have an environment where employees are:
- comfortable using collaborative tools
- encouraged to share information with other employees
- maybe even incentivised to share knowledge online
- able and willing to offer critical comments
- relaxed about constructive feedback on their own views
To achieve this environment you need to have in place the following:
- company values that should cover openness, honesty, and trust
- endorsement and sponsorship by senior managers of the values
- guidance on how employees should behave online
- HR policies that support employee engagement
That means internal communications realising they are not the only people who can communicate using the intranet. Neither are ‘official’ channels the only route to communicate with other employees. To embrace these challenges could mean a redefining of the role of internal communications. How this can be done will be covered in my next post.
Tags: blog, collaboration, communication, engagement, intranet, rss, social media, wiki
Intranets have developed over recent years from mainly being a channel for a few people to publish news to becoming places where any employee can collaborate and share knowledge with other employees. I find it ironic that it is internal communications who are hesitant, even resistant, to embrace these changes. Ironic because many intranet teams are located within internal communications. Doubly ironic as it is normally intranet teams who are involved with how collaboration tools are used.
Instead of embracing this chance to engage with employees using these new tools and integrate them into an enhanced communications framework, internal communications reaction is more often a knee-jerk one that results in more and more ‘official’ news to try to drown out other voices.
I think that’s very sad when it happens. It’s a bit like an ostrich burying its head in the sand. It has to face reality at some stage. The later internal comms leave it, the bigger the challenge it faces to use these tools to the overall benefit of the organisation, employees and internal communications.
Over the next few posts I want to cover how tools like blogs, video, rating and RSS can be used more effectively. I will also show how I can help you if you need more information and support.
Is this scenario something you are familiar with in your own organisation?
Tags: applications, blog, collaboration, digital workplace, intranet, rss, social media, wiki
I thought it would be good to start a debate on what we mean when we say the digital workplace. Many intranet professionals want to find out more about the digital workplace. Here is my view for you to consider and comment upon.
What exactly is a digital workplace?
I define the digital workplace as “Work is what you do, not where you go to.”
In a digital workplace you are able to:
- Work in any location. This may be at home, in your own or anyone else’s office, on the train, or ideally anywhere that suits you at the time you need to.
- Do your work. This may making a room booking, checking a person’s contacts details, searching for information you need, or reading the latest news.
- Use any device. This maybe your laptop, a shared PC, a smartphone (iPhone), or tablet (iPad).
- Share information. This means being able to use collaboration tools to help other people.
- Search across all places where information is and you have permission to use.
What is the difference between a digital workplace and an intranet?
An intranet has a more limited role. An intranet typically has corporate news and documents e.g. policies. Publishing will probably use content and document management systems. A digital workplace will also have:
- Collaboration tools e.g. blogs, wikis, podcasts
- Micro blogging tools e.g. Yammer, Twitter
- Knowledge sharing/building e.g. team wikis and share workspaces
- Applications/tools e.g. HR tools, online training, sales performance
- Processes e.g. approving decisions, compliance checks
It will help me and other intranet professionals if you can comment to agree, disagree, amend, etc, to create a shared understanding on the digital workplace. Thanks in advance.
Tags: blog, career path, collaboration, digital workplace, engagement, governance, plan, social media, training, wiki
How do I engage employees and improve collaboration? is a question I have been addressing in my posts Make a newbie welcome and more engaged,, Integrating and engaging a newbie , How an engaged newbie can become a top performer and A top performer’s career development.
Leslie has been a top performer for some years as Leslie has moved from one role to another. Leslie has agreed to mentor people as part of their career development.
There isn’t one standard way to mentoring. From my experience as a mentor and running a mentoring programme, it is the personalities of the mentor and mentee (protegé), the needs of the mentee and the ways and frequency of contact between them which can create a dynamic, enriching and long relationship or quickly fizzle out to nothing.
Leslie has the right characteristics to be a mentor. Leslie has broad experience, is a natural collaborator – willing to share ideas and listen to different views, and deep knowledge of many areas of common interest with the mentee to explore.
There are three steps to make it easier for Leslie.
A digital workplace helps to give the relationship more opportunities to develop successfully between a mentor and mentee. Before it could be a combination of email, texts, calls or face to face meetings that helped nurture and grow a budding relationship into a strong friendship which can last for many years and extend into their personal lives.
The digital workplace means a blog post of interest can be shared with each other for comment, collaborating in a shared workspace on a subject with each other or with other trusted people that can help is easy to do. Using micro-blogging for direct messages as well as re-sending useful comments is great. Having a video call instead of a face to face meeting takes less time, effort and possible delay to fit with other commitments.
Most importantly is the degree of subtlety that a true friendship needs. It means a quick tweet or micro-blog comment helps keep the relationship ticking over when previously no response could chill things for a while and need more time and effort to repair……………..or even worse, lead to a terminal decline and end of the mentorship.
Use the full range of options that a digital workplace offers for how you communicate to find out what works best for a mentor and mentee.
You need a framework that rewards a mentor and mentee for their time and effort and value that an organisation gains from helping accelerate the career development of a potential future top performer. While some mentors will be happy just to have some informal recognition, maybe meet their mentee in their own time, for the majority some formal reward is needed.
A performance management framework enables this to be given in an appropriate way. For the mentee, a personal development plan, reviewed regularly with their line manager, can include the progress with the mentor (without breaking any personal confidences). This helps to plan future development and work that maximise the mentee’s engagement to the organisation.
For the mentor it gives a more subtle choice. It may not be a promotion or pay rise but a formal recognition award could motivate the mentor and with publicity encourage other top performers to consider being a mentor. It may help with the future career path of the mentor who wants to progress into a new field of work using the skills learnt mentoring.
None of this will be possible without the right strategy, values and behaviour for the organisation the mentor and mentee works in. Creating the right environment for collaborative working; feeling we are all part of one big team; seeing the bigger picture and how everyone contributes to the overall success; being clear what is the direction the organisation is moving in; all of these help mentoring.
Without the right culture a performance framework would focus only on individual performance and what is being done now, not in the future.
A digital workplace wouldn’t happen. The old view “if you are out of my sight I don’t know what you are doing” would stop it dead in its tracks.
Combining these three key factors will mean you have a very good chance of many strong mentorship helping the mentee, mentor (like Leslie) and the organisation.
My last post in this series will cover what happens to the knowledge when a top performer leaves an organisation.
Tags: blog, career path, collaboration, engagement, sharepoint 2010, social media, training, wiki
How do I engage employees and improve collaboration? is a question I have been addressing in my posts Make a newbie welcome and more engaged,, Integrating and engaging a newbie and How an engaged newbie can become a top performer.
Leslie is a now a top performer and is considering the next move for career progression. Leslie reviews what the options are:
Leslie’s performance is recorded. Leslie has made the information available to propective managers who could be interested in Leslie’s skills and experience. Leslie’s preferences for the next role can also be seen – just like with LinkedIn.
From day 1 that Leslie joined this organisation, Leslie’s career development has been recorded, progress reviewed and options updated so it is relevant and accurately reflect Leslie’s development and future preferences.
This has proven to be the most valuable resource to help Leslie’s career progression. Through discussion forums, communities of interest, communities of practice and wiki contributions, Leslie’s expertise is well known and appreciated.
Leslie’s blog posts and MyProfile showing Leslie’s skills, exdperience and current activities are a showcase that everyone can view.
Leslie has carefully cultivated relationships with key people in mutual areas of interest. These people are actively considering where Leslie could fit in to their team.
In my next post I will cover how Leslie becomes a mentor.
Tags: blog, collaboration, digital workplace, engagement, governance, intranet, sharepoint 2010, social media, wiki
I have been answering the question “How do I engage employees and improve collaboration?” in my post Make a newbie welcome and more engaged which covered how day 1 can be the right start for a newbie joining a business and how you can accelerate engagement over the first few weeks in my post ‘Make a newbie welcome and more engaged’.
I now want to pick up as the first year for the newbie shows they have become a top performer. Let’s give this person a name (rather than ‘newbie’ or ’top performer’) from now on of Leslie.
Leslie is now a fully integrated, high performing employee at their organisation. This hasn’t happened by chance or luck. This is because of the way the organisation has provided the right environment to encourage a committed, engaged, productive performance.
Let us cover how Leslie has become a top performer:
Leslie’s performance is measured on outcomes. There are clear, agreed, measurable, objectives with a time line, budget and quality standard to be achieved. They are challenging but not impossible to achieve all or most of. The objectives are regularly reviewed with Leslie’s manager. Progress is recorded and actions agreed to be reviewed at the next formal review or anytime in between if needed. This approach is very successful because it gives Leslie the freedom to innovate. It encourages decision making and is supportive when they don’t always work out. (No decision is the worst decision to make?)
- discussion forums: Leslie has shown a real flair for sharing knowledge with other communities of interest and created a strong reputation across the business
- MyProfile: Leslie has used SharePoint 2010′s features to good advantage with Leslie’s skills, experience and current activities showcasing these to help other colleagues
- micro blogging: Leslie follows key people with similar interests and has cultivated a growing number of followers across other business functions with similar interests
- wikis: Leslie has learnt from the knowledge shared and increasingly contributed his views and experience which other people are valuing more and more
- blogs: Leslie’s blog is regularly viewed, frequently updated with new posts and has an increasing number of comments that add to the topic posted
- communities of interest: Leslie has joined groups with similar interests and contributed to the webinars, and online Q&As
Leslie, Leslie’s manager and business colleagues all work from different locations, in fact some in different time zones and sometimes from more than one location each day. Leslie is comfortable not going to a phyical workplace. A digital workplace where Leslie is connected virtually has proved a great success. Leslie has the tools to connect from a hub, home or while on the move. Leslie is pleased this saves unproductive time, being able to keep in touch with everyone though the laptop, tablet and smartphone given by Leslie’s organisation. Leslie knows the performance management system measures what Leslie’s output is while Leslie’s manager is contactable whenever needed.
My next post will cover how Leslie uses the digital workplace and collaboration tools for future career opportunities.
Tags: blog, career path, Mark Morrell
As my career as an intranet pioneer has moved on from being BT’s intranet manager to running my own intranet business, I thought it was a good time after blogging for over 3 years to refresh my site.
The blog posts are still there for you to read, comment and share. But you now have links to find out more:
- About me
- My experience
- My services
- My media engagements
- Intranet experts (and my friends)
So, please find a few minutes to look at this extra information and contact me if I can help you further.
Any comments on the new site will be welcome……..as always.
How can I help you?
- thnx @paulmillersays for inviting me to comment on the #digitalworkplace on #dw24. Good luck to wide awake club members too! 4 days ago
- I wonder how ENTER will manage their comments in 2 to 3 years time? So much content...out of date.......conflicting content. #dw24 4 days ago
- RT @Hadrig: Had to leave the #DW24 to go and talk to a business about internal collaboration and innovation. Well-armed with a few more ex… 4 days ago
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