Does your company want in or out of your social intranet?

Getting people to work together effectively is a common objective for an intranet team. Its often down to you to setup the right tools, promote the right culture and encourage the rest of the organisation to move away from ‘old fashioned’ isolated ways of working and share approaches, progress and problems.

But there are numerous objections to joining any collaborative effort, and with ‘Brexit’ at the front of our minds we wondered: If each employee in your organisation was given a vote on whether they wanted to remain on your collaborative platform – what would be the outcome?

First off, it’s not the kind of thing you want to let people vote on

You really want someone senior to be making these kind of calls. Your collaboration platform needs a senior sponsor to be successful, you need them to be passionate about the benefits and strong enough to put the case forward to the rest of the leadership team.

Asking every employee for a yes/no response isn’t going to give helpful feedback. Its likely that everyone will have different objections and see different benefits. Ask every employee for feedback and shape the strategy based on their responses, but let the leaders lead.

Collaboration tools are too expensive; I’d rather have that budget in my bonus

Yes, collaboration tools – on the surface – are expensive. They need constant investment and support as the technology changes to meet people’s changing expectations.

But, on a ‘per user’ basis the equivalent ‘extra bonus’ will barely cover a weeks coffee budget and the benefits can normally be shown to hugely outweigh the costs.

If you can avert the need for a few people to travel and stay in hotels, or if you can make it possible for a small percentage of people to work from home and negate the need to build a new office (or just heat and clean the existing one quite as much) then the cost of collaboration is quickly covered.

I’m not interested in collaboration

While the benefits of collaboration grow exponentially the more people take part, it’s unreasonable to expect everyone to join. Many people will see it as too much of a change, some might like ‘their way of working’ just fine and not be open to change.

My job is safer if I keep information to myself

The concept that sharing is power is still difficult for many people in business environments – knowledge is power. While they can see that technology has changed how people work, become key to success and virtually removed all geographical borders they somehow don’t feel that changes has impacted them personally and have concerns that, if they did follow those trends they would somehow be giving up everything that makes them valuable to the company.

The official collaboration platform doesn’t work for me

Even those people who agree with the principle and see the benefits of collaboration may still want out of the corporate standard offering.

Often the controls you have to put in place to ensure you meet obligations like privacy, budget or other regulations mean restricting what is possible. This can be seen as bureaucracy and red tape as they don’t see it in their consumer applications. Left unaddressed it could mean confidential documents being shared in personal social media accounts rather than within your controlled systems.

How to stop an out vote

How you address these objections will dictate how effectively collaboration tools are used. You need to apply your expertise carefully, ensuring that you gradually bring people onside not because they should trust you because of your position, but because they are able to see and understand the benefits first hand.

Most importantly, if things do start to go south and adoption stalls, don’t give up and walk away. Encourage people to stay and work to improve things. Do more user research to find key use cases for collaboration, and work with colleagues to get groups or communities set up to meet these needs. Getting acceptance for and embedding anything that seems foreign takes time and effort, but focus on the overall purpose and benefits while accepting and addressing the inevitable imperfections.