There is now unanimous agreement that the deployment of an ESN (enterprise social network) doesn’t just happen by itself; it must be guided. Bringing an entire organization on board with a new tool and new practices is nothing short of a revolution. But driving change is essential.
In order to surpass the theoretical “tipping point” of change, the need for extensive support is a given. It’s estimated that modifying the habits of 10 to 15% of employees is first needed to facilitate buy-in from the other 85%. And since company budgets don’t allow for the mobilization of an armada of consultants and digital teams aren’t commonly sized to meet this challenge, a large part of the solution remains… in-house. Fortunately, our customers have tested and validated several methods we’re sharing with you below.
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Build a network of ambassadors
While the user guides and tutorials address the need to train employees on how to use the social network, these online resources are aimed at users who are already comfortable with the digital world. Moreover, they are not always sufficient, even when staged around use cases, to help users project their daily lives into the social network and imagine new ways of working.
In short, in order to multiply change internally, we often see networks of ambassadors being deployed. These ambassadors are then actors of the local support that users demand.
An inspiring role
Relaying the IT department’s message to local teams, your ambassadors lead operations to promote the enterprise social network and relay major announcements to their colleagues. Beyond this important communication dimension—talks from peers carry more weight than those from further up in the hierarchy, especially if it’s from too far away—ambassadors are above all responsible for inspiring their colleagues through concrete examples, especially of their own uses. They need not be geeks, but they’re expected to at least highlight the benefits of the social network within the business context of their interlocutors.
Recruitment of ambassadors should remain voluntary. Companies proceed with a call for applications and at the same time solicit profiles they’ve identified. This is the case for employees whose enthusiasm and ability to take their colleagues along with them is already apparent in the pilot phase. These are ideal candidates for the position of ambassador. The tools deployed to acculturate the teams (serious games, digital passports, etc.) also bring up profiles with a collaborative spirit and comfortable with digital technology. Community managers and mentors are also likely to come reinforce the team of ambassadors.
Some privileges, but no official status
The role of ambassador is not formalized in the job descriptions and no time quota is released for the missions to be fulfilled. He or she only benefits from a few privileges: further training in the use of the software and a preview of its latest developments, allowing him or her to always be one step ahead. Those who invest themselves as ambassadors do so first and foremost out of conviction and the satisfaction they derive from helping their colleagues.
Also read: Internal Communication: Interaction or Else!
Relying on tool-based methodologies
Tools play an increasingly important role in the industrialization of support. One of the most common is the videoconferencing tool, used to organize webinars. It is notably present on Talkspirit’s social networking platform. Companies use it to train remote site teams. These online seminars regularly overflow into very operational issues, reflecting the need for users to apply the tool’s potential in their business context.
A refined tool selection aid
The highlight in recent years has been the contribution of support methodologies. Consulting firms formalize their approaches in software that they make available to their clients. This movement began with online benchmarks to guide decision-makers in their choice of collaborative platform. It continues with applications aimed at team or initiative leaders, helping them choose the collaborative use best suited for their own context and needs. These benchmarks (on Capterra or Appvizer for example) compare all the available platforms, whether American-based (such as Workplace and Teams) or European-based (like Talkspirit).
An extended support for every step of the project
Consulting firms’ software offerings extend progressively to all phases of project deployment: from the collection of format requirements to the piloting of platforms and right through acculturation, training and change management. On the other hand, you have to ask yourself the question of convergence and integration of a full gamut of tools—serious games, educational resources, editorial content, analytics, enterprise social network and more—all within the same platform.
Ambassadors to boost usage at Pearson
Often, ambassadors follow along with fellow users for the first few steps. In groups that have already had a social network in place for some years, they’re also expected to help it achieve its full potential. Pearson has had an enterprise social network since 2010, claiming 27,000 active users, or three-quarters of its workforce. However, most of them connect, read and react, but don’t publish. In 2017, this educational publishing company launched a program with the goal of recruiting 500 ambassadors. Their mission: to boost usage and develop collaboration. In other words, get more users to contribute by sharing information and publications on the ESN. The key takeaway: ambassadors are a lever for change at any stage of your project, so don’t hesitate to ask for their help, but be sure to give them a clear objective.
90 coaches at Suez France
In 2017 and 2018, the digital team at Suez relied on a network of 90 coaches to support the development of collaborative practices. The initiative only concerned France. Recruitment was done via email and poster campaigns. Applications were validated by human resources, who were closely involved in the initiative, and then confirmed with line managers. Any employee could apply so long as they didn’t work in IT. The change management manager intends to rely on people capable of delivering a discourse focused on practical uses rather than technology. There’s also a desire to make a clear distinction between support and coaching roles. The mission of the latter is not to answer technical questions about how the software works, but to advise users on the benefits of collaborative practices. A new recruitment campaign to improve the network of the entire country has already been planned.
The change initiator: a key player
The multiplication of enterprise social networking initiatives is helping transform companies and popularize new ways of working. Their instigators deserve encouragement, support and recognition. The digital team and its local ambassadors are involved at multiple stages: at the launch to provide methodological support for the creation of the space and its settlement, subsequently to remove obstacles (particularly managerial) to the smooth running of the community, and then downstream to enhance the value of the messengers. The dissemination of practical case studies, based on initiatives in the field, is one of the tools used by Air France- KLM and the French Development Agency to get more and more employees on board its enterprise social network.
Two best practices
- Give visibility to the ambassadors via signage that they can display on their laptop case, in the signature of their e-mail and in their directory profile.
- Bring ambassadors together within a community to build their skills through mutual support and sharing of good practices.