The heading for this post is a bit of a misnomer. It’s not so much that an opportunity has been missed; more that the opportunity is emerging and few organisations or businesses are recognising the potential.
I am talking about internal collaboration tools and how they can be used to share knowledge, encourage sharing of ideas, enhance effectiveness and reduce costs.
The list of tools is endless and will only grow longer with emerging technology. So let’s focus upon the outcomes rather than the tools.
In the past internal communication existing through email and face-to-face meetings. We will not and, should not, seek to replace face to face conversations; however the reality is that our workplaces are becoming increasing dispersed, people are short of time, the amount of information that needs to be shared is increasing and there is a limit to how many meetings a person should be attending.
Email has its limitations. It is messy, hard to control, difficult to locate past information and quickly becomes clogged with irrelevant data. The effectiveness of email is contingent upon users implementing an effective, label-based filing system and then actually filing emails. That’s not to mention the time involved in trolling through, reading and trying to decipher equally messy threads.
On our doorsteps are simple collaboration tools that your employees are already familiar with. These include LinkedIn and Facebook@Work. There are others such as the Google suite of products, Skype, Facetime, and these are just the early versions of the future. They make a good starting point simply because most people have a Facebook, Google or LinkedIn account and they are comfortable with the format.
Many older people will be dismissive of this potential, partly because of the way in which they use these tools in their private life. There is a very big difference between using social media tools in your private life and using the enterprise version of the same tool. Organisations can also put in place policies and guideliness for online content creation and use that help eliminate the ‘this is what I had for brekky’ post!
Let’s forget the tools, as they on their own are largely irrelevant. New tools will emerge, some of the current tools will not last forever. The benefit is in enabling employees to share information across a broad platform at any time. This helps break down barriers and reduces the impact of silos. It enables employees to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding. They can contribute to a discussion on many different levels without needing an invitation to a meeting or feeling intimidated by those present. With effective guidelines in place, internal collaboration tools may reduce the impact of that overbearing person who seeks to physically dominate each meeting.
Are your digital team often stumped for ideas for new content on your website? Open up internal collaboration tools and the ideas, photos and details will emerge. Viola, a quick email to seek permission, snip, paste and you have new, fresh, topical content that can be used on websites, corporate social media and newsletters. Have an idea for a new product or service line but not sure what is needed? No probs, create a short 60 second vid, post that along with an explanation, include a poll for feedback on viability and encourage people to ask questions and suggests improvements. Before you know it you will have a new product, a project plan, a marketing plan, people wanting to be involved, ideas for ancilliary products or services and the list goes on.
This is not just for the big boys and girls in town. The sooner small organisations begin learning to use collaborative tools the sooner they will benefit from the process. As stated earlier it is not about replacing face to face conversations, it is about opening up the conversation, making it easier and quick to find information someplace other than email, reducing barriers and engaging your people in your entire business process.
If you havent already done so, start today with the simple things. Open up a company LinkedIn account and create a Facebook Work account. Create a blog within your website and encourage staff to contribute to that. Begin learning how to use them. It takes time and diligence. Someone needs to be designated the ‘champion’ role, responsible for fostering conversations, explaining and helping others to be set up.
Since 2002 I have been working with nonprofit organisations and buisness operators guiding, advising and mentoring managers. When you are ready to #BeYouBeYourBest email John on firstname.lastname@example.org and we can have a chat.