When companies get a new intranet or communications tool, there’s a common misconception that as soon as they turn it on, it’ll start to magically resolve their issues. Poof. Just like that. All they have to do is let everyone know it’s live, then sit back, and watch it to go viral.
It’s incredibly disheartening when that doesn’t happen.
The fact of the matter is, even the best intranet software cannot fix your problems on its own. It can make it way easier to fix your problems, but it still requires people-power. And some of the most important people in this scenario are your leadership team. Arguably, they have the biggest impact on whether your intranet thrives or dies. Here’s why.
3 reasons why leaders are key to intranet success
1. People will follow the leader
Your leaders set the tone in your company. They’re the ones that everyone else looks to for guidance. It doesn’t matter how enthusiastic the HR Coordinator is about your new tool, they’ll struggle to get people involved if the leadership team isn’t there. It’s an uphill battle.
Conversely, if your leaders are early advocates for your intranet, you’re setting yourself up for success. They’re, by definition, the ones who others will follow. When your leaders are regular users of your platform—when they post Activity updates, communicate via a Discussion, and Comment on Articles—they’re clarifying that this is the way you communicate now. It’s the new normal. People soon catch on.
2. People want to hear from their leaders
Your leaders are your decision makers. They’re privy to the important ins and outs of your business and have an overarching knowledge of what’s going on. Do you realize how many people in your organization are interested in this information? A lot.
Your employees are part of your business but, organically, they have a very small slice of the knowledge pie. To feel like they’re truly part of something, they want to know more about it. Leaders obviously don’t need to share sensitive information, but they can share things like the direction their company is heading in. If your leaders have a mechanism to share this information, they need to use it.
3. People want to connect with their leaders
Your leaders are often the most visible people in your company, but the least well-known. They’re extremely busy people and, depending on the size of the business, don’t have the time to get to know each person.
This is a real shame because people want to connect with their leaders, and it’s good for the health of the business. By establishing relationships and becoming transparent, leaders start to earn the trust of employees.
A good intranet will make it easier for leaders to connect with people in a more personal way. With features like Activity, Article commenting, Shout-Outs, and the ‘like’ feature, leaders are able to reach their employees (and be reached) in a streamlined but meaningful way.
5 easy ways leaders can use their communications platform
If you’re a leader, here’s the good news: how you contribute to your intranet is up to you. For example, with the JostleⓇ intranet, you could write a long monthly NEWS Article, or comment on other people’s Articles, or simply ‘like’ someone’s photo album. Do what’s natural and comfortable for you. The key is that you’re present and contributing in a visible way.
(Of course, it’s important that you use your intranet appropriately as you’re setting an example for others. For example, if your company got an intranet because you want to reduce email, then you should be using your intranet for that purpose. Don’t ignore it and continue to use email.)
Here are five sustainable ways you can meaningfully contribute to your intranet:
1. Write a monthly blog
You can use the NEWS view to create a monthly blog article that’s as long or short as you like. It doesn’t have to be written formally or reviewed and edited several times. It’s much stronger if the message is organic and true to the individual. What you choose to put in the blog is up to you—it could be a commentary on a topic relevant to the business, an update on what the executives have been working on, or your thoughts on an upcoming event.
2. Comment on other articles
If someone posts a NEWS Article, whether it’s an album of photos from their vacation or a departmental update, it doesn’t take long to write a short Comment. Something as simple as “Love the photos @Sally, looks like you had a wonderful time” can be a simple but impactful way of connecting with people.
3. Share photos
This really takes very little time— just click the Upload button when you get back from a vacation, conference, tradeshow, or other event—and it has a really big pay off. If you’re a leader and you give people a window into your life or your business outside the office, they’re going to learn a little more about you/your role. This means creating a meaningful connection is that much easier.
4. Recognize good work
Shout-Outs are an easy way to recognize others for their good work. You can use these very short messages to congratulate someone or thank them for going the extra mile. It’s like a virtual pat on the back, and it’s incredibly powerful.
“Companies that use strategic recognition are 48 percent more likely to experience high employee engagement rates. However, keep in mind that timeliness is often critical. Let your employees know sooner rather than later to get the best results and keep morale high.” (Check out the full article here.)
5. Empower others
Very few leaders of large companies will ever find the time to contribute to their intranet. If they’re overseeing a 2,000 person company, the dynamics in leader/employee relationship are often very different to a 50-person company. In these cases, it’s vital that the CEO empower and encourage the people surrounding him/her—especially other executives—to share, update, and contribute. These people are vitally important in the company and are looked to as leaders.
Phew! That’s pretty much all we have to say on the the role of leaders in sustaining a vibrant and effective intranet. As you can tell, leader participation is mission critical. So much more can be achieved when leaders fully buy into a new intranet and take the time to contribute.