Tag Archives: career path

Go on! Inspire other intranet professionals…

Have you recently worked hard making some improvements to your intranet?  Did you get recognised within your organisation for your efforts?  Are people using your intranet giving great feedback about the changes?  If you answered “Yes” to these questions then you should consider sharing your intranet with other professionals to help inspire them!

The Intranet Innovation Awards are the premier awards for intranet professionals. Drawing on the best of intranet work around the world, these awards are unique in their recognition of individual improvements, and not intranets as a whole. Winning intranet professionals obtain widespread visibility, a magnificent glass trophy, and more support within their own organisations.

Now is the time to get your entry in, for your chance to win a lovely glass trophy. The closing date is Friday 6 June 2014.

It is easy to enter, doesn’t require much effort, when you complete the entry form.  Check it out, gain that critical external recognition and inspire other intranet professional!

My 2013 ‘fabulous five’ predictions

Several people have asked me what my predictions are for 2013 for intranets and digital workplaces.  I couldn’t resist the temptation to give my view from more of a practitioner’s perspective than maybe others have done.  So as that legend in his own lunchtime, Tony Blackburn on Pick of the Pops  (c’mon you’re not that young to not know him in the UK at least! :) ) says “Ok pop pickers, here is the fabulous five!”.

1. Not just a flexi fortnight

In 2012 we had the fantastic experience of the London Olympics and Paralympics.  Many blue chip and dyed in the wool organisations with office workers in London had a big shock and had to wrench their employment practices quickly into the 21st century by letting people work away from the office at home or other more local places.  People were trusted to work as normal for each of these games events.  Amazingly it all went smoothly with many organisations realising here was a quick way of helping to save costs with pressure on their business performance.

I predict many ‘flexi fortnight’ organisations will invest heavily in making the digital workplace permanent in 2013 and help change many people’s work/life balance for the better as well as improve overall business performance.  They will need help though!

2. SharePoint will be ‘good enough’

SharePoint 2010 and increasingly 2013 will continue to be the major technology deployed by large organisations transforming their intranets into digital workplaces.  Why?  Well, there are not many alternatives to choose from now or likely during 2013.  Organisations may not choose it for the right reasons ‘herding sheep’ is sometime the image that comes to my mind.  Where the real challenge will be is the perennial areas of strategy and governance.

I predict many organisations will need help unpicking poor decisions taken without the full knowledge of what SharePoint is capable of.  We know that it can be capable of many good things if in the right hands – then again the opposite happens too.

3. ‘Social media’ a threat to internal comms?

And the problem is partly the term ‘social media’ which is misleading in my humble opinion.  I always use terms which are more practical and relevant when talking with clients.  The same should apply for intranet/digital workplace practitioners when talking to their internal partners and customers.  So we’re helping people to find other people with similar interests to help solve a problem quicker, easier and maybe cheaper rather than ‘knowledge management’ and improving communications by people showing how much they value it by sharing, liking, rating, and commenting on it rather introducing ‘Facebook’ or ‘social media’.

I predict internal communications will ‘get it’ and see this as a big opportunity to gain better employee engagement.  Use the right terms and examples to get a better understanding of what it’s all about.

4. Security and compliance taken more seriously

We have seen several high-profile examples of organisations with previously strong reputations and brands suffer severe setbacks because of insecure processes and training and not complying with regulations and legal requirements.  It really is time that organisations looked at ALL the legal and regulation requirements as a joined up picture for what is needed in a digital workplace.  There has always been a risk that sensitive information can be mislaid since the written word many centuries ago so it’s not a new problem.

I predict organisations will ensure their digital workplace governance and processes are robust using software and education to make sure the right behaviour is encouraged to minimise risks of sensitive and commercial information being found by the ‘wrong’ people.

5. Intranet practitioners become INTRANET or DIGITAL WORKPLACE PRACTITIONERS

Yes, it’s my shorthand method of saying the profile for practitioners will grow in 2013.  I do believe as intranets transform into digital workplaces, organisations are realising the value they give them.  I also believe your profile will increase as you engage with more senior managers over wider areas that are relevant to a digital workplace than just to intranets.  I sincerely hope the value you provide in your role will be recognised and rewarded.

I predict 2013 is the year when many intranet practitioners will find by the end of it their career on a much stronger path with many people showing more interested in wanting to be part of this journey and more willing to help you.

Whatever happens in 2013 I hope you achieve your ambitions!

Is there a career path from intranets to digital workplaces?

I have written before about career paths and future job opportunities for intranet practitioners.  I don’t believe the only option is to become intranet consultants like I chose to do after leaving as BT’s intranet manager.  If you want to move to another organisation then IntraTeam’s job vacancies in LinkedIn is a good place to start looking.

This post is about career development and progression within your own organisation.  It’s about taking advantage by the creation of the digital workplace to extend your experience and skills into wider and more strategic areas of your business.  I also owe this post to a certain intranet professional (yes, you know who you are!) who I promised this to sometime ago.

At the moment many intranet practitoners are based in the Communications part of their organisation. For intranets it’s probably been the best place since intranets were created.  Typically the first use of intranets was probably to improve communications which then developed into information management, standards, etc.  While intranets mainly had that traditional purpose it made good sense to work there.

Being an intranet manager was a unique role, not always fully understood, and led to frustration when you wanted to take the next step on a career path.  The question was in which direction and, more importantly, whether your organisation recognise your skills and experience could transfer to another role and business unit.  Sadly for many frustrated intranet practitioners this didn’t happen.

The evolution of the digital workplace changes this.  The digital workplace covers social intranets – collaboration with wikis, blogs, shared workspaces; applications – training, performance management, ordering services; micro-blogging – Yammer, Twitter along with the focus changing from the IT equipment chosen by the organisation to what an employee wants to continue using for personal and business use and the changing way in which people don’t need to be in one place to do their work and connect with the information and tools they use.

It means the natural base for ownership of the digital workplace is not in Communications.  It needs to have broader ownership to reflect the extra functions a digital workplace with stakeholders who can either influence the strategy or be affected by it.  Jane McConnell’s recommends a digital board which sounds right to me.  After all, it will still need managing to be effective.

Being part of this digital board can raise your profile with more senior managers who have a broad, strategic, view of the organisation and how technology can enhance operations.  Instead of being the big fish in an intranet bowl think of becoming a smaller fish in a bigger digital workplace bowl.

The digital workplace gives you new new career path opportunities to:

a) Expand your existing role to be more strategic and wider in its scope

b) Take on a new role connected to your intranet role because your skills and experience are better understood and appreciated

How is the best way to do this?  Are there better examples?

Intranets are still very much alive!

I read with interest the blog posts by Tony Byrne ‘Death of the Intranet‘ and by Martin White ‘Death of the Intranet: ‘The Times They are a-changin’‘.  They are both interesting posts with provocative titles to catch the attention.  It has caused some great discussions about intranets which is great.  The biggest and most negative reaction I found has been from intranet practitioners who feel it is an over reaction and not how they see things.

Having recently been an intranet practitioner as the BT Intranet manager before becoming a consultant, I can see the subject from both points of view.  I believe intranets are still live and kicking  To adapt the famous quotation by Mark Twain after hearing that his obituary had been published in the New York Journal “The reports of the death of the intranet are greatly exaggerated” in my opinion.

Continually evolving

I believe intranets are naturally evolving and maturing.  Over the past 15 years intranets have been called many different names.  Intranets have needed to adapt to changes in technology, different business requirements and climates.  But they are still here and thriving.  The digital workplace is a wider environment that intranets will be a vital component of.  Yet another evolution for intranets to absorb and adapt to.

Wikipedia says ‘Increasingly, intranets are being used to deliver tools and applications, e.g., collaboration (to facilitate working in groups and teleconferencing) or sophisticated corporate directories, sales and customer relationship management tools, project management etc., to advance productivity.  Intranets are also being used as corporate culture-change platforms. For example, large numbers of employees discussing key issues in an intranet forum application could lead to new ideas in management, productivity, quality, and other corporate issues.’  I agree with that from my experience of how intranets generally are being used.

Different tools to access intranets like mobiles won’t end the intranet.  It’s just another opportunity to show how adaptable intranet can be in providing the information people need while on the move from their smartphones.  Intranets are still the bloodstream for information and applications, properly managed and accessible any time, any place, any where and more and more using any device, that employees need to do their work each day.

Passionate practitioners

I am writing a report about how the passion showed by intranet practitioners about their organisation’s intranet that they manage can help accelerate improvements.  I believe it is the personality as well as the abilities of an intranet manager that can help achieve more.  Intranet practitioners know better now than ever before how to feel the pulse of their intranet and organisation it supports.

I recall in my previous role how I would champion again and again something I believed passionately about would improve BT by its adoption sometimes against sceptical line management as well as partners like IT and some stakeholders.  Of course, judgement is critical as your reputation will suffer if you keep getting it wrong.  My point is that passionate intranet role models are being created which other intranet practitioners can benefit from and will continue to help intranets improve in the years ahead, not die.

The development of the digital workplace will be seen not as a threat but more as an opportunity for two reasons:

  1. The intranet will fit well within the digital workplace and grow in influence on the back of it as more senior stakeholders see how the organisation will benefit from adoption.
  2. The digital workplace role will be another step an intranet practitioner can consider when looking for their next career move (more on this in a later post).

Increasing relevance

Intranet managers don’t feel intranets are dying – quite the opposite in fact.  They believe intranets are moving into a more critical role for the organisations they support.  More and more they are seen as providing a business critical role.  This is a long way from just being another communications channels.  While I see intranets that are struggling to show value and be taken seriously by their senior stakeholders, there are many intranets growing in value and championed by practitioners who have learnt how to seek support and sponsorship and can talk the language of the business not just the technology.

I believe senior stakeholders, as with intranets, have matured in the last few years.  They understand better how intranets have added value, shown benefits in the wider sense and don’t think in straitjacket terms of just ‘return on investment’ so loved by Finance for business case submissions.

For me intranets are a living organism at the heart of organisations, managed by passionate people and increasingly championed by senior stakeholders who ‘get it’ about intranets and can see how they will continue in the wider digital workplace that is unfolding now.

3 steps to making it easier for top performers to share knowledge

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.

Digital workplace

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.

Performance management

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.

Culture

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.

A top performer’s career development

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:

Performance management

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.

Career development

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.

Networking

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.

Extending a pioneering blog

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. :-)

I’m moving on to bigger and better things

After 15 great year’s involvement with BT’s intranet, including 8 years as the BT Intranet manager, it’s time to move on to fresh opportunities.  Today is effectively my last day in BT before I go on holiday until the end of June.
 
As BT”s intranet manager, I have transformed the BT intranet strategy, governance, standards, knowledge sharing and publishing to an industry leading level of excellence.  The Intranet Benchmarking Forum have evaluated it as the best intranet overall and in each of their categories.  An achievement I am very proud to be responsible for!
 
With the successful implementation of SharePoint 2010 over the past 12 months, what future challenges within BT are there for me?  I feel this is the right time to use all my experience gained while BT’s intranet manager along with my SP2010 experience to broaden my horizons.
 
I have had some great offers made to me already to use my knowledge with intranet strategy, governance, standards, innovation, etc, in the wider global intranet community.
 
They helped me decide to freelance.  I am interested in working with different organizations on their intranet related projects.

I will become more involved with the IBF team rather than just as a member.  It will be great to continue with a fantastic bunch of people led by Paul Miller and develop my experience and skills further.

It also means I can continue this blog and use it to share more of my knowledge and experience.

If you want to stay in touch you can read and comment on my blog posts.  I’m also on LinkedIn, Twitter, Quora, Foursquare, Facebook and Yammer if you add me to your network or you can email me directly markmorrell.ltd@gmail.com.
 
The past 15 years have been great fun.  I would like to continue in the next stage of my life with all my intranet friends around the world connected with me still.

Join the Intranet Career Path group on LinkedIn

Following on from my post ‘What’s an intranet manager’s career path?’ a group has been created on LinkedIn called ‘Intranet Career Path‘. 

Already there have been comments made to help intranet people with their skills, experience and future career paths.

So, don’t delay – join today! :-)

What’s an intranet manager’s career path?

After a successful live tour of BT’s intranet on IBF24, I also took part with Christy Season, William Amurgis, Mark Tilbury and Kay Golan in a discussion on the career paths for intranet managers.

There is no easy answer and no clearly defined path.  This maybe because intranet manager is a relatively new role but also it doesn’t fit nicely into an established development and succession plan.

The skills and experience which intranet people have – strategic, communications, project management, technology, people and relationship management – can lead you into many career paths.

This abundance of talent should be seen as strengths that can be used in many other roles in the same organisation not as weaknesses because they are too diverse to fit into one natural path.

There isn’t much advice for intranet managers.  LinkedIn groups tends to be how to help with intranets rather than their managers.  So, we agreed to create a LinkedIn group for intranet managers to help other intranet managers.

I hope the recorded discussion is made available for people to listen to after IBF24 is finished – not just because I’m talking but the points made to help intranet managers.