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Engaging colleagues with new online tools!
Dave Briggs, April 2014
WorkSmart is a consultancy and
online community that is all
about bringing positive change
to the workplace.
We work with organisations to
help them develop the strategy,
leadership and capability to
deliver smarter working.
Dave is the principal consultant
and main writer at WorkSmart.
He has considerable experience
delivering technology based
change projects in organisations
of all sizes.
Engaging colleagues with
new online tools
Here’s the thing: if you build it,
they won’t come.
No matter how cool your new
social business platform is, your
colleagues (except for the super
keen) won’t suddenly leap into
Instead, you need to think
tactically about how you engage
workers with new online tools.
Here are ten simple ideas to
Put the user first
The organisation has its needs,
the users their own - and they
might well clash.
Don't make the mistake of
putting the organisation's needs
front and centre. That won't
inspire anyone to use it.
Instead, design around the
user's needs and figure out a
way for the organisation to
Big launches rarely work. "Quick,
everyone! Look at our new
As it's new, there's not much
there. Everyone is disappointed
and many never return.
Instead, don't try to get too
many users too quickly. Allow
the amount of activity to be
relative to the membership size.
Not another task!
People are unlikely to respond
cheerfully when you tell them
they need to start sharing
knowledge or collaborating.
Not another chore!
Instead, present the new tools
as a better way of getting work
done, that will relieve the
burden, not add to it.
Fewer rules are better rules
If you create rules, people look
for ways to get around them.
They see bad behaviour as
getting one over the rule-makers.
In many ways rules legitimise
the activity they seek to prevent.
So don't have rules. Assume
competence and politeness as a
standard. If people don't meet
the standard, then deal with it.
Let people work differently
Different people will use different
tools in different ways. It might
depend on their role, or on their
You can't expect uniformity in
usage. Keep things flexible, and
don't demand people fit a
Let users own their tools
If people in an organisation see
a new platform as being
imposed on them from above, it
Instead, the community must
own the community. Get the
enthusiasts to help make
decisions and manage the
It will make your decisions better
and your system more popular.
New tools need new skills
Does your organisation have the
skills in-house to make your
platform a success?
Do you have a community
manager? A social reporter? An
online curator? An analytics
None of these things are rocket
science, but you can't assume
anyone can do them without
Make it work on any device
If people want to be able to use
some software to do their job on
their own iPad, at home, at the
weekend, then make sure they
can do it.
If they have to use their work
laptop, and only at certain times
of the day, then engagement will
Make sure your system works on
all the popular devices and don't
Give it time
There are no quick fixes when it
comes to organisational culture.
If you want to see your new
technology having a major
impact within six months,
prepare to be disappointed.
Instead, relax a bit. Let people
find their feet. Let them discover
what they can do and how it will
help them. Measure progress,
sure, but don't panic when short
term results don't materialise.
It’s not about the technology
Please don't make rolling out
social software within your
organisation an IT project.
It's not an IT project.
It's about people, and culture,
and working methods. It belongs
with people used to working with
development and that sort of
Thanks for reading!
Hopefully these ten ideas will
help you develop your
organisation’s use of technology.
If you need further support,
WorkSmart is here to help.
Thanks to Steve Dale and Anne McCrossan who
provided me with invaluable feedback on the ideas in
Slide 3: Paul Clarke photography for Learning Pool
Slide 5: https://flic.kr/p/hP6VzF
Slide 6: https://flic.kr/p/f9VeXB
Slide 7: https://flic.kr/p/cCmJjQ
Slide 8: https://flic.kr/p/aFaR5R
Slide 13: https://flic.kr/p/dMMvP
Other photos are author’s own or from public domain