As I and a tightly bound cross-functional team worked on the intricate planning to combine our corporate intranet with our social intranet with our collaboration platform in 2014, we were faced with many questions, opportunities and objections. While not funny at the time, the humor has grown on me, so let me share one particularly poignant … and telling…story.
Our intranet had always provided employees with, and there were many of them. Within a few months of the launch date, it felt more and more ‘real’ to people; it was imminent, all employee information would be on our community platform.
Great, right? Well, apparently not for everyone.
I found myself reassuring the Policies team that we could make their space private since they INSISTED that they did not want employees commenting. Once we got past the consulting attempt, I distinctly remember four times when I reassured them, “No, employee will not be able to comment on your space.” When I was asked the fifth time in as many weeks, I realized that I was answering the question as asked – not my usual style.
So I gave some thought to the question and changed my approach. When the policies team asked, as they did at every weekly meeting, “Employees won’t be able to comment on Policies,right?” I gave them a more broad and accurate answer and felt the electrical current spike across the telephone lines. My answer, “Employees will not be able to comment on your page. But employees can, and always have, discussed corporate policies in many different places in the community.” SILENCE.
“Well,” the policies team said, “How have we handled this the past 6 years in the community? I explained that other employees often answered each others’ questions.” “Whoa, the policies folks said, what if they’re wrong?” And that’s when reality struck. Regardless of whether you ‘allow’ an employee to comment on your space or not; whether employees say something negative about policies, procedures or plans; they’re saying it somewhere and it islikely disrupting productivity for any number of folks who join the conversation. My parting comment to the policies rep was “Employees are talking already, the only decision you have to make is whether you want to listen.”
Guesses as to what happened?