Nine tips for a successful social intranet
Introducing a social intranet, often constitutes a major change. It takes time and it's not always easy for organisations to get everyone involved. You have to listen, take obstructions away and connect user and technology. But, for every difficult situation, there's a pair of behavioural 'glasses' you can put on to help you understand your colleagues better and to help you move forward.
Organisations boasting a successful social intranet (with over 80% or more employees active on the platform) all have in common that they chose to use Plek as their primary means of communication. Whether you're at twenty or at eighty percent, you can always use the tactics mentioned below, to activate the remaining employees.
The 9 behavioural glasses
1 - Self image: reflecting on behaviour
We think we're a lion but we're actually a kitten. In other words, we tend to (unconsciously) overestimate ourselves. When it comes to your social intranet, you can remedy this by putting people 'in front of a mirror', so they can see their actual behaviour. Remember to do this with tact and without reproach.
For example, if the management thinks they're doing well but there's actually still a lot of room for improvement: talk to them about it. Help them, keep evaluating, give constructive feedback, and ensure that they gradually begin to exhibit exemplary behaviour.
2 - Emotions and associations
We don't like change. In fact, we're scared of it. If people suddenly have to do something differently, they're bound to experience quite a few emotions. Especially if they have experienced traumatic incidents in the past. If, for example, a reorganisation occurred 10 years ago and employees were promised no redundancies, but people got fired anyway, employees who stayed on will remember this. It's therefore important to try and build trust, explain how the change is supposed to benefit the organisation and/or its employees, be honest, let people join the conversation and get rid of that fear.
If you're aiming to build trust, it's also important to reward people. If someone has done something in the new way, give them a compliment - even if the person didn't do it a 100% right, continue to reward exemplary behaviour.
3 - Physical environment
We are heavily influenced by our physical environment. So make sure to also facilitate the required change for an online platform like Plek in the offline environment. Are there thresholds or distractions? Take them away. For example, if your colleagues are a lot on the road, make sure the social intranet is always available on their mobile. Use the physical environment as a helper: organise a training at people's workplace. They'll bump right into it since it will only take them a little bit of time and effort to participate.
4 - Habits
We often act impulsively or out of habit. But the path 'we always take' is not always the most efficient one. But, since it was already there, we just use it again. Nice and easy, autopilot mode! Don't force colleagues to change - they'll just rebel or refuse. In other words: don't put up a fence to block the path everyone always takes. People will just walk around it. Ask yourself when and why people take this path.
We're addicted to email and WhatsApp (even though we really don't want to be). If you agree with each other to use the social intranet as the primary means of communication from now on, this doesn't mean you will no longer receive any emails and WhatsApp messages from colleagues. The path we always take is to simply reply via email or WhatsApp. The right way is to make an effort and transfer the conversation to the social intranet..
Behavioural change is often achieved by means of a nudge. Think of the ferry behind Amsterdam Central Station: there's a red area and a green area, without any explanation. But people still know what to do and where to stand. A nudge in terms of the adoption of your social intranet is, for example, to use the platform as the startup page - company wide.
5 - Knowledge
Sending knowledge isn't the holy grail. If we see a 100 km/h sign on the road, we know we're not allowed to drive any faster. But we do it anyway. So don't just share knowledge, also focus on the why: think about who the user is and how they can benefit. Do not use a dry business message but go for something interesting, something that appeals to emotions. Don't emphasize what's currently going wrong, but how nice it would be to do it differently: 'Look, I have already made the switch, and now I can easily find whatever I need. Don't you want that too?'
6 - Attitude: willing to change
We always want to know 'what's in it for me'. How do you motivate your colleagues, intrinsically or extrinsically, to change for the long term? Involve early adopters early in the process. They will set a good example and take others along in the process, in the role of ambassador. Let colleagues experience the benefit (and the fun factor). Later, they can help others by asking how someone in their situation could benefit from a platform like Plek, and how they can help them get there.
When implementing a social intranet, a big bang works for one organisation, while another uses a phased approach. At Plek we always work with ambassadors as well as a big bang launch. This way, you involve early adopters and stimulate exemplary behaviour. At the same time, you clearly indicate that Plek will become the primary means of communication.
A real-life example from last week's session: Employee Chris is responsible for sending incoming documents to the right people. Through the profiles on Plek, Chris knows which document to send to which person. That's why Chris adds the required information to his own profile and asks others to do the same. The result is useful for both Chris and colleagues: Chris knows where to send the documents to and colleagues are receive the right documents. This is how Chris acts as an ambassador.
7 - Ability: can you do it?
Sometimes the problem is very simple: we want to, but we can't. Help colleagues by means of training sessions, webinars and tips & tricks. Or use a buddy system for one-on-one coaching. Don't forget to also include new colleagues during their onboarding period.
8 - Support of the social environment
We all want to be a goody goody because we are social beings. We look at what people around us do. And if enough other people do the right things, we want to do the same. Formal managers can contribute to this, but don't forget about your organisation's informal leaders. For example the receptionist is often able to quickly mobilize many people. Pay attention to who talks to whom, and use these existing networks.
9 - Intentions and perseverance
What do we want to achieve and how will we do it? We'll need perseverance. And perseverance requires encouragement. Boost your social intranet, for instance by organising update training sessions and by celebrating successes. Ask for commitment: we decided to do this together and we'll stick to it. Keep monitoring and evaluating, and remind teams of their commitment in case they start slacking.