Posted on January 29, 2014. Filed under: collaboration, communications, communities, community, corporate communications, digital workplace, internal communications, intranet, organisational culture, social intranet, social media, social networking, Uncategorized | Tags: conversation, internal comms, internal communications, internal communications 2.0, intranet, social organisation |
John is a press officer in the media relations team at Blah Blah plc. Like John, most of his peers are ex-journalists. They all started their careers in local newspapers, writing about village fêtes, lawn mower thefts from back yards, court news and their local football team. One by one, they all got promoted and specialised in a particular field and covered a larger patch, before moving to regional media outlets and finally on to the nationals. John worked for ten years at a popular national tabloid newspaper.
John and his colleagues all progressed based on the quality of their end product – articles; broadcast media segments – essentially, a presentation of some kind. The quality of their end product depends upon things like: how good their sources are; how skilled they are at writing and crafting narrative; their research skills; and also their instinct for sniffing out as good story.
Then one day, John saw a job advert for a press officer at Blah Blah plc. It offered a better salary and benefits, more secure employment and a far less claustrophobic/nepotistic culture. So he applied, got the job and made the switch from journalist to spokesperson.
John soon found out that, while all his old journalistic skills are still very valuable in his new role, success is measured very differently. The output or end product of John’s labours shifted from being a presentation for a mass audience to his ability to influence a much smaller set of identifiable individuals. So the presentation subtly shifts from being an end in itself to a means to an end. That end being influence.
So, what’s all this got to do with internal comms? I believe the journey that John has undertaken above, is exactly the same journey that we as internal communicators must now make to remain effective in a social organisation – by which I mean an organisation with internal systems which support commenting and conversation and which are used widely by employees.
In organisations which are strongly hierarchical and where on-line, social engagement functionality is not available, employee communications is highly managed, structured and controlled. What employee comms people produce in these types of organisations is well crafted presentational material – be it a news item or a communication from the CEO or senior manager. This is akin to journalism inside.
As an organisation introduces functionality which supports connection and conversation, employee comms people need to compete with other information providers to attract attention to their content through the noise. This will never be achieved by continuing to produce corporate presentational material – however well crafted. The conversation around a piece of content, which creates context and brings it to life becomes, arguably, more important than the original content itself. Influence comes from being part of that conversation and change happens as a result of it.
Being part of the conversation, explaining – sometimes defending - the company’s position to employees and trying to influence behaviours is much more akin to being a spokesperson for your organisation, inside your organisation. This means no more hiding behind a wall of content and being invisible to employees. It means stepping in to the limelight, being the most connected person in your organisation and discussing openly and honestly the messages you have been tasked with delivering and describing and exhibiting the behaviours you are trying to promote. It also means being accountable in a much more transparent way than we have ever had to be before.
Pretty scary? Certainly. Very exciting? Definitely!
The great news is that, as employee comms people, we already have a fantastic set of skills to help us flourish in this new environment. All we need to do shift our thinking. There really has never been a more exciting time to be in employee comms … and a social organisation is the perfect environment for us to flourish and grow.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Posted on July 30, 2013. Filed under: agile working, collaboration, digital workplace, governance, intranet, social media, Uncategorized, usability | Tags: digital workplace, intranet, intranet managers |
[Allergy advice: written in an office containing nuts; may contain sentiment offensive to intranet managers]
Once upon a time, workers lived among reams of paper – newsletters; memos; phone books; and much more besides … as soon as these bits of paper were spewed out of printers, they were out of date … the cunning and ruthless Sir Lever Arch infiltrated himself into every aspect of corporate life.
Like rising damp, armies of managers emerged from under rocks and from within cracks to manage each other and all sorts of other stuff which oiled the wheels of the corporation, but which were ultimately pointless.
This was a pretty poor state of affairs so, one day, a very clever wizard – no one knows exactly who he was but his magic wand and pointy hat were very magic and pointy – decided that all this paper could be replaced by the interweb.
Not the big-wild-west-interweb-dominated-by-porn-and-gambling-since-discredited-by-Tory-MPs-who-wouldn’t-know-the-interweb-even-if-it-donated-squillions-of-pounds-to-their-evil-cause … but secret interwebs owned and managed inside companies only accessible to those in the pay of the big bosses who were the direct reports of King Arthur himself – for it is he …
And so the intranet was born.
Soon after, it became clear that these secret interwebs needed a firm hand and a stout heart to keep them in order and make sure they delivered shareholder value, met the needs of users and supported business objectives … and lo-and-behold White Knights, or intranet managers, strode confidently from the magic forest to pick up the gauntlet.
These White Knights rode on stallions named Governance, vanquishing unofficial servers … ruthlessly slaughtering poor user experience. For a while, the White Knights ruled supreme – proclaiming the word of the intranet … ‘governance; cost savings; user testing; cost savings; usability; cost savings; business requirements; cost savings; and many more black-magic-type-cost-savings which were lapped up by the men-in-suits who pandered to King Arthur himself’.
All-the-while, in a dark cave high in the mountains of IT-shire, a strange and unknown creature was emerging called the Digital Workplace. At first, the intranet managers hailed the Digital Workplace as their saviour … they saw it as a way to ingratiate and elevate themselves to the Great Round Table at which King Arthur himself sat. Fortified by PowerPoint and buoyed up by free trips to exotic lands in which they supped at the famous and unlimited Fountains of Conference, they enjoyed the good times and grew complacent – talking up the great Digital Workplace and their perceived control over it.
However, the unwitting intranet managers, in feeding the Digital Workplace, were unleashing a power beyond their wildest dreams … a power so strong it would one day turn on them and swallow them up … coughing up their semi-digested remains in a tangled furball of BYOD, tablets, real-estate, smart phones, work-styles, collaboration, network access and slimy social media …
However hard the White Knights fought to untangle themselves from within this furball of complexity, they could never free themselves … and their power and influence was lost forever.
[The End]Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 8 so far )
Posted on May 1, 2012. Filed under: communications, internal communications, intranet, Sharepoint 2010, social media, Uncategorized | Tags: future of internal communications, Institute of Internal Communications, internal comms, internal communications, intranet, social media |
It’s been a bit quiet around here recently … sorry about that. Inspiration has eluded me … smothered by the thick woolly blanket of work!
We’re *still* in the midst of an intranet migration to SharePoint 2010 … which actually means we haven’t really started yet but have done the ground work – the only small nut to crack now is how to get tens of thousands of pages out of existing content management systems into SharePoint 2010 while causing everyone – users and publishers alike – the least amount of pain possible … answers on a postcard, please! :-)
I’ll probably share more about this over the coming weeks …
The impact of social media on internal communications seems finally to be creating some buzz about the place … which is great news. On that note, I recently made a small contribution to a free eBook about how internal comms is changing in the modern workplace – it’s a light read and I think worth a browse.
I’m also speaking at the annual conference of the Institute of Internal Communications (May 23-25) which I’m really looking forward to … although I seem to be the last speaker of the whole event just before lunch on Friday … not sure what to make of that! If you’re going, please say hello …
Anyway – just thought I’d pop-up for air to reassure myself that I still exist … more soon … promise … maybe …Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 5 so far )
Posted on August 24, 2011. Filed under: collaboration, communications, corporate communications, digital workplace, in conversation, internal communications, intranet, organisational culture, social intranet, social media, Uncategorized, Web 2.0 | Tags: In conversation, internal comms, Red Sky Vision, Richard Dennison |
The third in the series of in conversation with Red Sky Vision talking about the impact of social media on internal communications. The conversation weaves around the changing role of internal comms and how and why internal comms people can thrive in the social space.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )
Posted on August 22, 2011. Filed under: BT case study, collaboration, communications, communities, community, corporate communications, digital workplace, governance, in conversation, internal communications, intranet, knowledge, organisational culture, social intranet, social media, social networking, Uncategorized, Web 2.0 | Tags: BT Intranet, In conversation, intranet, Red Sky Vision, Richard Dennison, social intranet, Web 2.0 |
The second in the series of in conversations with Red Sky Vision – this time a short sound bite or two about why we introduced social media onto the BT Intranet (this one is much shorter … only 1 min 20 sec :-) ).Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Posted on June 20, 2011. Filed under: BT case study, communications, corporate communications, internal communications, intranet, organisational culture, social intranet, social media, social media guidelines, Uncategorized, Web 2.0 | Tags: #worksm, intranet, Red Sky Vision, social intranet, social media at work, video |
Last Friday, Red Sky Vision launched a video about social media at work. Amazingly, I was asked to be part of it! It’s very well produced and the key strength of it for me is that it’s not about hyping up social media and creating a frenzy. Rather, it’s a well-balanced and calm assessment of the issues and benefits of social media in work – with a particular focus on internal communications. It’s about 15 mins long – so grab a coffee and a chocolate biscuit and take 15!
As well as me, you’ll hear from the following:
- Marco Forgione, IVCA
- Rebecca Richmond, Melcrum
- Stefan Stern, Edelman London
- Helen Dunne, CorpComms magazine
- Neil Gibbons, Communicate magazine
- David Ferrabee, Able and How
- Madeleine Kavanagh, Deutsche Bank
- Livio Hughes, Headshift
- Neville Hobson, Communicator and entrepreneur (from whom I stole this lits of participants – see his blog post).
Enjoy! I’d be interested to know what you think of it …
[If you can't see the embedded video - you can watch it on the Red Sky Vision site]Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 4 so far )
Posted on February 11, 2011. Filed under: communications, corporate communications, internal communications, intranet, organisational culture, Sharepoint 2010, social intranet, social media, Uncategorized, Web 2.0 | Tags: BT, control, influence, internal comms, internal communications, internal communications 2.0, Melcrum, SharePoint, Sharepoint 2010 |
I spoke earlier in the week at the Melcrum SharePoint User Forum on the subject of: the challenges facing the internal comms (IC) profession in the social enterprise. I wasn’t able to talk as much about SharePoint as perhaps I was expected to as, quite frankly, we don’t have a lot to show yet … which is another story entirely! :-(
Anyway, I thought I’d share some thoughts on the challenges facing the IC profession in a social enterprise. The slide below pretty well sums it up …
A community of internal comms practitioners embedded into the social fabric of BT as power-networkers influencing the conversations and culture of the organisation to meet its business objectives. A community engaged in communications activities underpinned by social interactivity and conversation to help BT employees arrive at shared understanding of what is expected of them from the communications we create and disseminate.
[PS - my slides from the Melcrum event are available on slideshare]Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 10 so far )
Posted on October 18, 2010. Filed under: communications, corporate communications, internal communications, intranet, organisational culture, social intranet, social media, Uncategorized, Web 2.0 | Tags: engagement, future of employee communications, future of internal communications, internal comms, internal communications, personal brand, social engagement, social media |
With the continued growth in both volume and influence of social content inside organisations, how should internal comms managers respond?
How can an internal comms manager keep up with the buzz in social channels inside their organisation?
You can try to use technology to monitor the buzz, but the only really effective way to keep up with what’s going on is to be in the thick of it yourself … connected to those with the greatest influence and to those who comment about the bits of the business for which you have responsibility. Internal comms managers need to be the super-networkers inside an organisation … the alternative is to become out-of-touch and irrelevant.
Social content is a rich seam of intelligence for the internal comms professional … for example: it offers real-time feedback (no need for any more employee surveys!); provides the seeds for future campaigns and messaging; allows you to see the REAL impact of what you communicate; and makes you accountable for what you communicate … in real time. Why wouldn’t you want to have access to all this …?
How should an internal comms manager engage with employees in social spaces?
I believe we should adopt the same tactics being played out on the internet by marketing and PR people representing brands in public social spaces. As an internal comms manager, you are effectively a spokesperson for your organisation … inside your organisation. The same basic rules apply whether you represent your company to external stakeholders or internal stakeholders … i.e. employees.
There are loads of great case studies on the internet for how to do social stakeholder engagement well … and an equal number illustrating vividly the dangers of getting it wrong. While these case studies might not be exactly transferable inside an organisation, the underlying principles are identical:
- set goals
- target the influential – get connected
- monitor what is being said and by whom
- do some experimental engagement adopting an appropriate tone and see what happens
My top-tip for becoming a super-networker is get in early. As soon as a social channel appears on your intranet, get involved as a user straight away … get connected to as many people as you can (you can tidy up your connections later) … build up trust and a strong personal brand as quickly as you can.
In social channels, influence comes from being part of the conversation … not part of the establishment!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 13 so far )
Posted on October 15, 2010. Filed under: blogging, communications, corporate communications, internal communications, intranet, social media, Uncategorized, Web 2.0 | Tags: communications planning, employee communications, internal communications, social media |
Having been part of a social media panel at this week’s Melcrum Strategic Communication Management Summit, I was moved to write this post about how to integrate social channels into an internal comms campaign.
As a recipient of internal comms stuff, it can sometimes feel like internal comms has become a check-list activity … someone from the business comes up to you and says: “I need to communicate something” … and you launch off on auto-pilot with a menu of channel offerings. And, when new channels come along, they get added to the bottom of the list to amplify the noise. I get the feeling that social media is often just being added to the bottom of the list.
So, for what it’s worth, here are some thoughts on the subject. Social media should never be handled as a standalone item or activity … this is true if you’re writing comms strategy, preparing a business case, writing a comms plan or trying to justify ROI. The power of social media is in its integration with other stuff … as a standalone activity, it has limited value as a comms enabler.
Define very clearly what your desired business outcomes are. As an aside, I don’t think that either pride or awareness are valid business outcomes! There is nothing inherently useful in a business context in feeling proud or in knowing something … it’s what people DO as a result of that feeling or with that knowledge which should be your desired outcome. All too often we don’t press the business to say exactly what they want to be different as a result of an act of communication … if we don’t know this, how can we decide if we should do it at all, or what channels to use to do it effectively?
Once you’ve agreed a set of tangible outcomes, you need to agree how you’re going to measure those outcomes to know if you’ve been successful.
With this knowledge, you can then begin to define the activities which you need to undertake to deliver the outcomes … one or more of these activities may well be social media related in nature.
You’ve then got enough information for normal comms planning to kick in …
In adopting this approach, you not only create a context for social channels and social content, but you also create a mechanism for measuring their value – as part of a group of comms activities, rather than on their own. By positioning social channels alongside the more traditional, and accepted, methods of communication, it also gives them gravitas in the business which often regards them as toys.
I apologise if this sounds like teaching grandma to suck eggs … but sometimes we could all do with a bit of egg sucking! :-)Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 5 so far )
Posted on April 29, 2010. Filed under: intranet, knowledge, organisational culture, ROI, social intranet, social media, social networking, Uncategorized, Web 2.0 | Tags: enterprise 2.0, intranet, learnings, lessons, social intranet, social media, social media deployment |
While preparing for last week’s Simply Summit, a number of random points floated into my mind about things to consider when deploying social media tools onto a corporate intranet. I kicked off with these points which I’ve re-produced below:
1. The old rules still apply
Over many years, intranet managers have learned hard lessons around the best ways to manage intranets and intranet content. Some social-media-types will tell you that social media changes everything … it doesn’t … and the lessons we’ve learned over the years are still relevant. However, while the old rules may be the same, the issues will almost certainly be different. The best example of this is governance … social content still needs to be governed but you’ll need to think about different and more appropriate ways of doing this with user-generated content.
2. It’s a journey, not a magic bullet
As obvious as it sounds, change takes time to happen … if someone is selling you an all-singing-all-dancing social media platform which will “transform you organisation overnight …”, I recommend you ask them to leave. Years ago, when I first started working on intranets, I had a slide with this simple equation on it … the technology in question back then was a basic intranet – but the sentiment is as relevant today as it was back then (see bullet point 1 above!)
The other thing to note about this is that you need to stick with it and not get downhearted when it feels like you’re getting no where.
3. A bottom-up culture needs top-down support
While social media evangelists like me like to think of ourselves as subversive freedom fighters taking on the might of the corporate machine, you’re going to find it pretty tough to get anywhere without support from your leadership team – even if that support is tacit rather than openly exhibited. The technology can’t do it alone … (see bullet point 2 above!)
4. Content types should complement each other rather than compete against one another
I covered this in my last post, so won’t bore you by repeating it here again.
5. Sometimes the only form of transportation is a leap of faith!
Don’t get sucked into endless debates about ROI etc. … sometimes you have to do stuff because you know it’s the right thing to do. Social media is right for organisations … it’s right for employees … and it’s right for customers.
… here endeth the lesson :-)
[P.S. ... don't you just hate it when people use the word learnings ... euchh!]Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 5 so far )
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