6 tips for involvement on your social intranet
At the beginning of November, I accompanied a meeting with the ambassadors of a social intranet of 14 primary schools in Alkmaar. We discussed the status and the plans for the coming year. One of the ambassadors said: "We have overcome the resistance and can no longer do without it". I actually felt proud and noticed that a tilt had taken place. But it didn't just happen by itself. We worked hard and encountered quite some bumps and potholes. Perhaps the most important lesson is that change simply requires time. In this blog I focus on the success factors.
How could we, as project team and as ambassadors, make this change work? On a project-specific level: the enthusiastic teachers were an important success factor and so was the courage of the school board to invest in this project, be open to innovation and give space to let it grow. On a generic level: I recommend taking the below six success factors into account when introducing a new digital platform.
6 tips for the introduction of a social intranet
- Give something attention and it will grow: walk the walk and share good examples.
- Listen to counter-arguments but don't make them bigger than they are.
- Allow people to choose whether, and if so, how they use it.
- Identify the specific behavior you're expecting.
- Stay close to the primary process: try to connect with the work that needs to be done and show others the new way. Provide explanations and offer assistance (also informally at the school or workplace).
- Keep going and keep repeating. Continue to communicate, even after a year has passed, and be patient. Because change takes time.
1. Give something attention and it will grow
With the introduction of a social intranet, we asked teachers and school managers to work and communicate in a different way, to work more digitally. Resistance is a natural reaction to change. We decided to pay particular attention to those who wanted to join, and to the good examples we encountered. Because if you give something attention, it will grow.
We allowed different opinions to be part of the project team. The school director who was responsible for the project had his doubts. He wasn't big on digital tools and also needed to be convinced of the usefulness of the social intranet. We saw this as an opportunity. If we could turn him around, that would be the first success for us to build upon. And it worked: he became a true ambassador. We shared examples of other organizations' approaches and explained how these things could also work at schools. We identified existing challenges and contributed solutions within the social intranet. We provided 1:1 attention via button training and conversations about daily work. The school director also noticed other project team members' enthusiasm.
“The school director who was responsible for the project had his doubts. We saw this as an opportunity. Eventually, he became a true ambassador.”
Continuously keeping our ears and eyes open really helped us. Some first reactions: yet another new thing, I'm already so busy, this is really not a priority, I don't need it, I don't see the use of this, the people around me don't use it either, high work pressure, I think it's scary, I don't know how to use it, I'm fine without it. Listening helped us understand and come up with interventions.
3. Allow people to choose
During the early phases of this project we only gave enthusiastic people an account. So the people who really wanted to join explored and benefited from the possibilities. After about six months we set a date on which everyone would get an account. This is where the hard work started, because how could we get the majority involved? And what do you do with stragglers? Read Huib Koeleman's blog for more information about this (Dutch only): 'Van kopgroep naar peloton, hoe betrek je de late-majority?'.
“If you don't regularly check the intranet, you'll have a hard time keeping up in the team meeting.”
An ambassador of the social intranet of 14 primary schools in Alkmaar
4. Specify behavior
If you carefully think about what the change means in terms of behavior, you will automatically come up with solutions. Think about when the desired behavior should take place, who is involved in it, and understand the existing routes that people have followed for years. Examples of desired behavior on a social intranet are: to (dare to) ask a question to all colleagues on the digital platform, regularly read news reports, think about whether or not a message fits better on the intranet than in an email before you send it, move from a paper agenda to a digital agenda, collaborate online with a project team, invite external people into a group and collaborate with them.
5. Stay close to the primary process
I have had many conversations with school directors and team leaders about how they communicated internally. They mostly used email. By means of specific examples, I was able to demonstrate how this could be done more easily and efficiently on the social intranet. So the intranet wasn't perceived as a new additional thing anymore, it became a replacement of existing (oldfashioned) ways. Bringing the team leaders and management along really helped. For many school teams, the social intranet has become the go-to for internal communication..
6. Keep going and keep repeating
Are we done now? No, it remains a learning process to get the most out of each other and out of the social intranet. We need to keep going and keep repeating. Let the good examples inspire the rest, so that this will soon become the normal way of working for everyone.
Would you like to learn more about behavioral change and how you can contribute to it by means of internal communication? I'm hereby inviting you to a (free) knowledge session, on Thursday December 13th, at the Plek office in the center of Amsterdam. My colleague Michael Meyer and I will introduce you to different 'behavior glasses' and will provide insights that you can instantly build on in your daily worklife. Plek clients can register at go.plek.co. Other interested parties can email email@example.com.
With a background as a communication scientist and an interest in technology, Roosmarijn connects organization, technology, content and users. She is a co-founder of Orange Otters, a consultancy firm that focuses on internal communication and change to strengthen engagement and connectedness in organizations. They work with, among others, Rijk Zwaan, a globally operating player in the field of seed breeding, the municipality of Amsterdam and school board SaKS.