The rise of the Digital Newsroom

Organisational storytelling has long been a function of a traditional internal communications function, but as organisations continue to adapt to a digital and social age, the model of storytelling is changing. The lines between internal and external communication are very quickly blurring – and that means a different model for generating content.

The Newsroom Model

The idea of having a newsroom model in organisations can offer real opportunities in generating content that can be used across different populations. In a newsroom model communications teams take on more of a journalistic role to source and generate stories to drive engagement and influence stakeholders.

A newsroom model is an idea that needs to align to your brand and strategy and should be the leading mechanism to share your organisational narrative. One of the biggest changes in a social age is that a newsroom model can start to generate ‘employee generated’ content by using stories generated by enterprise social tools.

This is a shift away from the ‘top down’ method of communicating that is the default method for storytelling in many organisations.

Employee Content

If your newsroom model is built on a foundation of employee generated content it can have huge benefit in giving your stories and messaging real authenticity both internally and externally.

Although there will always be a place for the traditional ‘top down’ stories from an organisations Leaders there is now so much opportunity to bring stories to life using employees.

One of the most effective ways to build a network for your newsroom is to create a role of a ‘digital champion’ in business. This role has a great deal of scope for employees to take an active role in organisational conversation and to act as content generators.

The key with getting the most from your newsroom model is to align it to a digital ambition; having the right tools in place where employees can interact and share stories is critical to sourcing great content for your newsroom.

If you can build the right structure in your business – by introducing tools like Enterprise Social and a network of engaged digital champions, you can begin to develop a newsroom model that will be built on a strong foundation of employees as storytellers.

It will make the role of Internal Communications teams critical in the newsroom model as the facilitators of content that will give businesses an authentic voice.

Multi-Channel

In the newsroom model there should be no distinction between your internal and external channels. Stories can be translated into different kinds of output suited to different kinds of populations; that could be an internal video or an external tweet. There will be some occasions where the same content can be pushed out through multiple channels – a good example might be where you have created a piece of video content that can be topped and tailed suited to a particular audience.

Social Media is an absolutely critical piece of the newsroom puzzle. Bite sized chunks of content are a much more engaging way to share stories, and using social tools such as Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn externally or Yammer, Jive and SharePoint internally should be at the very heart of your channel strategy.

Another key channel in a newsroom model is video. With the use of smartphones and tablets organisations can now reach out to employees to create content they generate themselves – which again adds a huge amount of authenticity to a story. There is still a role for glossy, high production videos for important corporate messages – but, a more homemade feel to video content can give it a much higher level of authenticity.

The idea of a Digital Newsroom is that content can be created and pushed out quickly across multiple channels; editorial oversight can be easily managed digitally without the need for face 2 face interaction.

Digital Structure

Many organisations are geographically spread and the structure of a newsroom can align to a digital and agile way of working. Having a network of digital champions and ‘journalists’ across different locations is a great way to make sure you can generate stories and content quickly.

An example would be getting some anecdotal feedback from across your locations on a major announcement which could either be done by people submitting smartphone clips, or an on-site journalist who can quickly go and obtain that footage. In a digital age, that can be submitted to an editor who can top and tail it ready for it to be pushed out via different channels.

Having that ability to generate content and stories so quickly can become a priceless asset to organisations both in engaging employees and influencing stakeholders.

Summary

The role of the Digital Newsroom is evolving – for it to work effectively it needs the right structure and foundation in place for content generation. The ‘top down’ content is the easiest part to get right, but to add authenticity and credibility to your storytelling, it is important that organisations also focus on content from the ‘bottom up’ as well.

A successful Digital Newsroom also needs strong collaboration between different teams in a business – many teams that are part of the newsroom model will also have different responsibilities – but for the newsroom to work they need to make sure territories don’t become barriers to sharing great content.

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Creating an adoption strategy for Enterprise Social

With the introduction of Enterprise Social into the workplace; it is a commitment by organisations to a new way of working. The introduction of an Enterprise Social tool can act as the catalyst for change, but in isolation, it will not unlock the business benefits that organisations will expect to see.Yammer

The deployment of any Enterprise Social tool in business has to be considered alongside a robust adoption strategy; where consideration is given to the culture and behaviours you need in your business to get the most out of your investment in technology.

It is that strategic view of adoption that should drive a business change approach; consultancies such as Content & Code provide end to end expertise in development of strategy and deployment of tools. Steve Crompton, who is an Enterprise Social & O365 specialist at Content & Code is developing a maturity model for Enterprise Social with Warwick Business School, and is a huge advocate of taking that strategic view:

Steve says “If organisations want to see the true value of investment in new digital workspaces with Enterprise Social functionality, they need to consider adoption. Creating an adoption model that lines up against a cultural change programme is the key to successful deployment and unlocking the true value of investment”.

It is important that you don’t burden your adoption model with success and failure metrics at an early stage; user adoption is a long term cultural change project, and you can’t expect the world to change overnight.

Why do I need an adoption model?

An adoption model is a really important tool to manage expectations of senior stakeholders in your business. There is a danger with Enterprise Social that people will look to apply success or failure metrics on a tool before you have shifted your culture.

By building an adoption model – or a picture of your journey – you can influence people across your business that the real impact of Enterprise Social will not be fully realised in the short term, and that patience is a key ally in the journey.

If you are looking to create an adoption model for your business it is useful to create ‘swim lanes’ of activity that will help your business drive adoption. Some of those ‘swim lines’ might include:

Digital Transformation

If you are introducing Enterprise Social into your business, you need to consider if it is to be as a standalone tool. To unlock the full capability of an Enterprise Social tool it is at its most powerful when it is integrated into your Intranet – as part of a Digital Workspace.

In an adoption model, this is often a key part of your journey. Without integration into your digital channels Enterprise Social becomes something that employees have to navigate to if they want to interact with content. That makes the experience less intuitive than if you can interact with content in the same environment.

The Digital Workspace should be an employee entry point into the content, conversations, information and tools they need to perform at their best. If you have multiple entry points into these things, it makes adoption far more difficult as employees will naturally look to one or two tools to help them work effectively, as without that integrated experience; it isn’t always intuitive what the different tools can offer.

As a base level of your adoption model, you need to consider how you navigate employees through your digital toolkit – if you want to reach a high level of adoption, integration into a Digital Workspace should be a key consideration.

Leadership Engagement

One of the key benefits of Enterprise Social is breaking down hierarchical boundaries, and a critical part of adoption is to bring leaders to the party. Leadership engagement is probably one of the biggest hurdles you might face in your adoption strategy, depending on your culture and individual preference some leaders can be reluctant to engage in Enterprise Social.

The two things that need to be considered with Leadership engagement are as follows:

i) Try and work with 1-2 leaders who are real advocates of Social rather than trying to bring all of your Leaders to the party at once. What you will likely find is that there will be a domino effect as other Leaders across the business begin to recognise the value being added to other areas.

ii) Don’t assume that Leaders are naturally comfortable diving into Enterprise Social. There will probably be a fear factor across leadership populations of ‘saying the wrong thing’ or not knowing what to say. Make sure you work with them and offer training on coaching on how to be get started.

In your adoption model you need to allow time for your leadership population to buy into Enterprise Social, it will not happen overnight.

Digital Champions

With any adoption model, you are not going to be able to influence the entire business through vertical engagement. One of the key considerations for adoption should be a network of Digital Champions across your business that can act as influencers at a horizontal level in teams, departments and functions.

Every organisation will have a different persona of a Digital Champion, there isn’t a one size fits all idea of what being a Digital Champion entails. But at a high level, they should play a key role in helping your organisation adopt Enterprise Social.

They will play a key role on your network by creating and sharing content, driving conversations and interactions, and connecting people. They will also be able to help the network be self-moderating by driving best practice.

There doesn’t have to be a limit on the amount of employees you recruit as Digital Champions – the more advocates you have in your business, the easier it will be to drive adoption across your different populations.

Think long term. Think social.

The key message when rolling out an Enterprise Social tool is to think long term. Help your organisation look beyond short term assumptions and build an adoption model that will help leaders understand the different steps you need to take along the way.

What most organisations will find when introducing Enterprise Social is that there will be peaks of virality – and that the tool is sometimes used for non-business related content.

That is absolutely fine though – the key is to build critical mass and for employees to start building networks and relationships, even if the value isn’t tangible at an early stage.

Enterprise Social is about a completely new way of working, and although it has been around now for a while, it is still in its infancy when trying to assign value metrics.

The final thing to consider in your adoption strategy is aligning your internal communication strategy to Enterprise Social. Look at how social works in the outside world (e.g. hashtag marketing) and how you can apply some of those same concepts to your employees to drive engagement campaigns, conversations and collaboration.

The work Steve Crompton is doing on a maturity model will help improve understanding on the impact of Enterprise Social v’s business productivity factors – if you want more information check out Steve’s blog at www.changingsocial.co.uk >>

I have been involved in deploying Enterprise Social (Yammer) into two large organisations and have had some great learnings along the way – drop me a line if you would like to discuss anything on the topic in more detail.

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The role of a Digital Champion

As more businesses move towards a Digital Workplace and new ways of working, the driver behind change is going to be a mix of technology and people. The technology will act as an enabler for better collaboration and a virtual workspace – but it is the culture of a business that will drive the behaviour for adoption.

Many businesses will find that new technology will create an initial surge of interest and excitement, but without a clear and robust adoption strategy, usage will drop off if there is no clear value.

The deployment of technology has to be aligned to the mobilisiation of people, for adoption to be a success; a network of Digital Champions should be a fundamental part of any approach. These could be people in a business that have a keen interest in digital and social, and can work across horizontal lines to influence employees.

Digital Champions can be important in employees adopting new tools, and in creating a social culture. The areas they will provide real value include:

Digital Gurus

There are people in any organisation that instinctively ‘get it’ when it comes to digital and new technology. They will be your early adopters and a vital network of influencers that work horizontally across a business to educate others and instigate cultural change.

Digital champions are also digital storytellers; they have a role in playing out your digital story to colleagues and guiding behaviour.

Community Managers

The primary role of your Digital Champions is the Community Managers for your Enterprise Social Network. The Community Managers are the network of people that will drive content and conversation across your social network.

An enterprise social network has a dual role in business; it can help provide an employee voice and turn vertical communication into a two way dialogue.

But the real business value from enterprise social is more tangible across horizontal lines – those conversations that span different internal communities to open up networks, innovation and efficiencies.

To unlock those horizontal conversations, you need people to lead, initiate, guide and moderate – that is where the Community Manager comes in.

A Community Managers role may include formal admin duties of a Group or Network – or they may have a less formal role in taking an active role in communities of interest in which they operate.

Some of the activities that a Community Manager might take on include sharing content of interest to generate discussion, liking and sharing posts, encouraging colleagues to be active in conversations, tagging colleagues into conversations that maybe relevant, creating groups and driving traffic to your network. The list is not exhaustive.

The reason that Community Managers are so important in an Enterprise Social Network is that they will be critical to unlocking the horizontal conversations and networks that drive real value.

Content Generators

Enterprise Social completely shifts the dynamic of workplace communication; employee voice is now becoming the key to organisational storytelling. Communications functions are adapting as they become content facilitators as well as content generators.

The role of the Digital Champion will also be to generate content. That could be sourcing stories or news from networks or communities they lead, or by contributing to communications campaigns and activity.

A good example would be your Digital Champions making regular appearances on an in house TV channel, either as ‘presenters’ or contributors.

Employee generated content gives so much authenticity to a message, as it is real people in a business telling real stories.

Digital Champions are a great source of content, and they can help reach out to source the stories and people that will bring your business to life.

Social ambassadors

Digital Champions can add real value within your business, but they can also play a role in helping you build a social profile externally. Employees that are active on Social Media can become great ambassadors by pushing out content and stories through social profiles.

This can have real value in building your brand.

There is a blurring of lines in the workplace about what internal and external communication looks like in a digital world. Content that has traditionally been relevant to employees is now becoming relevant to a wider group of stakeholders including consumers and future employees.

If you have great stories in your business, in a social world, your reach is enormous. If you have your employees telling those stories it is a brilliant and authentic mechanism to showcase your brand.

Conclusion

The role of a Digital Champions is likely to vary from business to business, but this network of people is absolutely critical to the adoption of a Digital Workspace and tools like Yammer.

It once again boils down to the authenticity of the message; it is only by seeing and understanding the value of changing a way of working from a colleague that employees will really buy into your digital journey.

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Creating a Digital Workspace at L&G

There are some real challenges for Financial Services organisations in adapting to the digital age. Both cultural and regulatory barriers make it difficult to navigate both the opportunities and threats that digital can bring. 

Legal & General has started its digital journey, and in the consumer space has made some real strides with the launch of new digital offerings such as My Account (customer self -service), L&G Live (a consumer facing portal) and in the social space the Google Hangout series has been a real breath of fresh air in bringing everyday finances to life.

The outward facing digital and social revolution is well and truly underway.

The next stage of that digital journey is to build up digital and social capability internally, both by introducing new digital tools, and driving a cultural change to a more digital way of working.

Read the full article, including our 7 golden rules of Yammer here >>

Enterprise Social: a different way of storytelling

The introduction of Enterprise Social into the workplace has transformed how organisations communicate and engage with employees. Depending on the maturity of your social culture, there is now far more scope for employees to generate content and create more of a bottom up and less of a top down method of storytelling.

This has huge benefit to organisations in generating authenticity with storytelling, and can cut across both internal and external audiences. There is a blurring of lines in the workplace between internal and external channels; especially social.

A different kind of content

The traditional method of communicating to employees still has a place in business; there will always be the need for top down messaging on business strategy and direction. But the ways in which you can deliver that content are now changing. The all company email from the CEO is becoming redundant as a mechanism to reach out to employees as a method of communication.

For those businesses that are socially mature; a more authentic method to deliver a key message from your CEO is to crowd source questions via your enterprise social tool, such as Yammer, and then use an employee presenter to interview your CEO on your internal television channel (which can be built conceptually on You Tube).

Of course, content isn’t exclusive to your leadership. Enterprise social gives you the opportunity to engage employees to create content; you can do this through running internal social campaigns.

An example might be running a hashtag social campaign called #mystory – where you ask employees to submit a short video clip on why they love working at your organisation through Yammer or SharePoint (or an alternative source). You can then take this content to create a really powerful message about the best things about working at your organisation – this can be used across multiple channels both internally and externally.

The opportunities to build your story through the employee voice are endless if you leverage enterprise social to the full.

The employee voice

Of course, if you are generating employee content through enterprise social, you are also giving your employees a voice in your business.

Another great way to generate authentic content and to tell your organisational story is to engage employees on what they think about specific topics and issues. An easy mechanism to create conversation is to use hashtags throughout your media so that employees have a call to action to post thoughts and ideas.

One of the most credible methods to tell your organisational story is to use real people in your business to tell it for you. That is where one of the real benefits of enterprise social can be found.

A social culture

When considering your enterprise social strategy there are two key considerations to make. The first one is don’t make an assumption that introducing the tools will make you a social business – being a socially enabled business involves a cultural shift towards behaviours that encourage and reward collaboration, conversation and innovation.

The tools might help you initiate cultural change, but you need to consider whether or not your behaviours – the ‘how we do things’ aligns to a social culture as well; otherwise the tools will soon become redundant.

Enterprise social: every channel counts!

There can sometimes be an assumption that the introduction of one tool is the solution to enterprise social, and by introducing something like Yammer, you will start on that journey.

But the key with enterprise social is to try and build it into all of your internal channels. Most organisations will have multiple channels to reach out to employees – it is important that they integrate and complement each other so that ‘being social’ isn’t something you just do when you login to Yammer for example.

The best way to achieve this is to build social integration into the heart of your digital workplace; make sure that you have Yammer or your social tool integrated into the heart of your Intranet. If you build an in house TV channel (which is another great way to build social capability), make sure it integrates with your Intranet and social tool.

The trick is to let employees interact with content wherever they go to find content – whether that is your Intranet, Social Tool or TV channel. That will help you create a workspace for employees where they are able to interact with your organisational story, contribute to it, and help you tell it.

Summary

Although there is still a place for traditional storytelling and top down communication in the workplace the dynamic is changing quickly with enterprise social. Content is now being created quickly and easily – and there is huge scope for businesses to look to a different, more authentic way of storytelling.

Internal Communicators can now use (hashtag) campaigns to source content, rather than having to create it. They can then create compelling stories that can be pushed out through multiple channels.

Enterprise social firmly puts the employee voice at the heart of a business; there is a great deal of opportunity to both drive engagement and authenticity internally, and for employees to tell a great story externally as well.

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The Digital Workplace

The workplaces of today will likely look very different in five years. More organisations are starting to look to digital as a mechanism to create a better, more agile and collaborative workplace. Digital has always had a role in the workplace, but with the evolving world of social tools and new technologies, there is a different kind of workplace emerging, one that is likely to change the landscape for how many businesses operate.

One of the biggest drivers behind this revolution is likely to be cost; businesses are starting to recognise that the cost per head of the traditional workplace is significant. Moving towards a more agile way of working, where employees are provided with the tools and judged on outputs can be a more cost effective, and efficient way of doing business.

What is agile working?

There is probably a misconception that agile working is purely ‘working from home’, but it is more than that. Agile working is about being able to work from any environment and location – whether that is at home, in the office, on a train or in the North Pole! It is also about putting employees in control of when they work – although loosely based on a typical working week; agile working gives employees more choice about when they work – as long as outputs are delivered by agreed deadlines.

Agile working is enabled by digital; if you are agile then it is likely that you will have less time to connect with colleagues in the office. So, those important business relationships and networks are now being built more virtually, through social tools for the workplace.

The office of the future

In the future it is likely that a lot of employees will be equipped with a hot desk, laptop, tablet and smartphone – replacing the desktop PC’s and telephones at a fixed desk. This is already the norm in some organisations, and the trend is growing quickly.

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Getting the most out of Yammer

A lot of organisations are looking to Yammer as the solution to social enterprise and collaboration in the workplace, as a social tool Yammer is an excellent product, and can be an enabler for your business to build a collaborative, networked workforce that can contribute to high performance and engagement.

But for Yammer to be as effective is it can be there are some things you need to consider such as:

A suite of tools

Yammer works best as part of a suite of digital tools. If you introduce Yammer, then consider the different tools you need to make sure you get the most out of it. Yammer is great for creating online communities and conversation, but for dynamic media such as films and podcasts there are other internal options that offer a better solution such as Vimeo and You Tube.Yammer

It is also important not to assume that Yammer can replace your communication channels, you still need a mechanism to communicate with employees. Yammer can add in the conversational element, but it is there to complement, not replace existing channels.

One mistake some organisations can make with Yammer is to try and position it as another communication channel, that is not where you will find the value from Yammer. It is an enterprise social network, which means its primary purpose is to enable community (horizontal) led conversation.

Yammer is most effective as a suite of digital tools that employees can use to communicate, connect, network and collaborate.

Horizontal conversations

Yammer is at its most effective when it enables horizontal conversation and collaboration in business. There is value in teams and departments creating vertical communities, but in a world where people interact already, Yammer can only add so much value. In a world where people in an organisation might not interact, but have similar problems, issues or skills, Yammer has a huge amount of value.

It is those horizontal conversations that you really want to unlock when rolling out Yammer, so it is important that you understand your internal communities and pitch Yammer as an enabler to collaborate horizontally in your business.

It is an easy trap to fall into to see Yammer as a shiny new communications channel that can help push out vertical messages and give employees a voice to feedback, and it does have that capability, but Yammers identity in a business should be about unlocking horizontal conversation at a community level.

Vertical communication

If Yammer’s primary role is to unlock horizontal communication, it does have a secondary role to push out vertical communication. If you have Yammer in your business you can start to build a social element into your internal campaigns, so that you can initiate conversations about topics and issues that are important to the business.

It is important with Yammer that you create a social culture, and that means building social language into your organisational culture. Hashtag marketing is an excellent campaign tactic you can use as a communicator to drive traffic and conversation to social tools.

Let Yammer be social

Don’t be too descriptive about what employees can and can’t use Yammer for. If employees fear being pulled up for using it, then they won’t use it. You have to have a certain amount of trust in your business for Yammer to be really effective.

If employees want to use Yammer for business and social topics it should be accepted as a by-product of a business that is networking and collaborating, even if the topics aren’t directly related to the business.

Yammer has been designed as a social tool and it needs organic growth for it to really work, some of that growth will come through business conversations, other parts may come through employees interacting in communities that aren’t directly related to business.

If you are liberal with your guidelines, sticking to the highest level of 3-4 golden rules, then I think you will find that organic growth a much easier journey.

Yammer champions

Try and find some Yammer champions in your business, people that are passionate about social tools and can take the lead in building your online communities. This group can play a huge role in mobilising Yammer and keeping people engaged.

If you can add 1-2 of your business leaders to this group that will also add a great deal of value. Yammer can really help to break down hierarchical boundaries which are often barriers to innovation in an organisation, so if you can mobilise Yammer champions at different levels in your business, you can start to showcase the value of a socially enabled business.

The Yammer app

Yammer has a really good app that can be downloaded onto tablets and smartphones. The app is something which is really worth pushing to employees, you can log in from a personal smartphone and post on the move. In an agile world, the app is a great tool that employees can use to stay connected.

Summary

There are a number of social tools that are now available in the workplace, but Yammer offers a brilliant ‘off the shelf’ solution that fits snugly with other digital tools. If you want Yammer to be as effective as it can be, then these steps may be worth considering as part of your strategy.

The updated Progressive IC book is now available in print via Lulu.com and as an eBook through PayPal and Amazon. It is packed full of hints and tips on Internal Communications, with a specific focus on social, digital and collaboration.

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Telling your digital story

As more organisations move towards a fully integrated digital workplace it is important that you take your employees with you on the digital journey. If you want to be a digitally enabled business, you need to look beyond the investment in tools and make sure you are culturally ready as well.

The transition to a digital workplace isn’t an easy one, especially if you have been slow to embrace the digital revolution. There will be many employees that are wary of digital, and especially the speed at which things change.

It is important that you make your case for digital to your employees, so they can see and understand why the business is moving towards the change. There are many very good business reasons to look towards digital – including interactivity, collaboration, efficiency and cost.

When you are developing your digital story it is easy to look at components of it in isolation, such as social, without looking towards the wider picture. Digital encompasses much more than social, it is very much the front end interface for how businesses interact with employees and customers.

Some of the things to consider when developing your digital story include:

Our digital culture

What does your organisation want from digital? Whatever the answer is you need to make sure that you are clear with your employees about the behaviours the business needs to make digital work for you.

If you want a better connected, more collaborative workforce for example you need to make sure that you put collaborative behaviour at the heart of your culture, through your values. Digital can enable better collaboration, but it can’t replace the behaviour.

If you want digital to enable a world class customer service, you need to make sure that customer service is integrated into your culture and values.

It is easy to embrace digital solutions without considering the cultural aspect of what you want to achieve. Digital can act as an enabler for business but it will be employee behaviours that are the biggest influence in success or failure.

So it is important that you make the case for digital to your employees by joining up the dots on the cultural ambitions. There is a risk if not that employees will see digital as a ‘bolt on’ to existing workloads rejecting tools such as Yammer – for people to embrace the digital revolution you have got to build the cultural acceptance from the bottom up.

How the tools work

In modern society a lot of employees will use digital and social tools outside of the workplace. It might be social tools like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, or ecommerce like Amazon or eBay. The vast majority of employees will interact digitally through smartphones, tablets or electronic devices.

There is a dangerous assumption that as employees are also consumers, they will naturally translate digital behaviour and understanding to the workplace, but it isn’t quite that straightforward. There will be some employees that adopt digital straight away, others will be more cautious.

Part of the reason for that is the workplace is a very different place where a wrong word can create difficulty, but also the suite of tools in the workplace are far less intuitive for employees to decide what they are used for.

If you have an Intranet, Yammer, SharePoint, Lync and email in your business employees will quickly become confused about what tool should be used for what, so you have to help guide them.

There is a clear role for each of those tools in the workplace, but they all cut across communication, collaboration and knowledge sharing, so it’s important that employees understand the role they play and when and how to use them.

A good way to do this is through a simple video, where you can map a project out through its digital journey bringing in the tools to use at different points.

Digital opens up so much opportunity in business, but it is so fast paced that change is constant, and tools are always evolving. It’s a key part of your digital story to help guide employees through the journey so that they can adapt quickly and easily until eventually the instinct and behaviour becomes intuitive.

Don’t stand still

The digital landscape looks a lot different now than five years ago, and it will look very different in five years’ time. So when you are developing your digital story, keep a very keen eye on the future as well as the present. Help employees to understand what innovation looks like so that digital change becomes easier to manage.

The digital story for every business will be different, and it depends very much on both the culture, size and demographic on how to pitch it. But it is a story that needs to be told, the way the world interacts is changing, and it is changing in business as well.

There are sub plots to the digital story as well that all form part of the same narrative, social is now becoming a dominant influence, and you need to make sure your business is ready (see both building a social culture and hashtags as an Internal Communications tool). Digital security is another factor that is absolutely vital to your story.

Keep refreshing your digital story so that employees stay engaged with the journey, it isn’t a one off exercise; it is a journey that will move as your business evolves.

Conclusion

One of the difficulties in business is that because digital is so fast paced, there is rarely any clear ownership that captures all of the elements together. But, there is a very clear role for business communicators to help map out the digital journey for employees.

If you want to be a digitally enabled business, it will be your employees that make it happen, the investment in tools is only part of the revolution.

The updated Progressive IC book is now available in print via Lulu.com and as an eBook through PayPal and Amazon. It is packed full of hints and tips on Internal Communications, with a specific focus on social, digital and collaboration.

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Internal Communities

One of the key roles of an internal communicator has always been to understand and effectively segment organisational audiences. As organisations evolve and social becomes a more dominant factor there is a new role for Internal Communicators to look beyond traditional audience segmentation and understand the role of internal communities in business.

Internal communities have always existed – but with social tools there is now far more opportunity to mobilise groups of people in business that share common objectives and interests to drive better collaboration.

Vertical & Horizontal Communication

The traditional role of Internal Communication has been to manage the vertical communication in business – the top down and bottom up communication that facilitates good business conversation.

There is now far more opportunity for Internal Communications to facilitate horizontal communication – the dialogue between different communities in business. To facilitate horizontal communication you need to understand what communities exist in your business and create opportunities that will initiate dialogue.

Vertical communication remains the primary role of Internal Communications – as it is the organisational story that will be a primary driver behind engagement – but by looking at communication horizontally you can also influence good business collaboration – and that can be a primary driver behind innovation and growth – which will directly contribute to the commercial objectives of the business.

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Engaging in an agile world

The way businesses operate is changing. Traditional working practices are slowly being changed as businesses begin to recognise that agile working offers a lower cost, more productive alternative. Agile working is an enabler for businesses to operate in a more productive and efficient way by empowering employees to work to a more outcome based model than the traditional office based concept of 9-5.

Agile working is very much a progressive way of working, and it doesn’t work for every business. For agile to be a success, it needs a strong culture of trust and very clear outcomes for employees to deliver against. But as more businesses look to take cost out then agile is one solution that can make a significant impact on the total cost of your workforce – so it is likely to become far more common place in the next decade.

A transition to agile working means new challenges for Internal Communication and a different kind of approach to Employee Engagement. The traditional communications model will need to evolve to make sure it keeps pace with different ways of working.

There are three key things to consider if your organisation moves towards agile that are:

The right story

Agile working is a new way of working that is in part driven by empowerment, but will likely be primarily driven by cost. Not all employees will be keen on a transition to agile, it places more emphasis on employees taking accountability and responsibility for working patterns, and it can mean that the line between ‘work’ and ‘home’ life becomes blurred.

It is important that you get your agile story right from the outset, the ‘why are we doing this’ and ‘how it can benefit you’. You will need to sell in the benefits of agile to your workforce, helping them to understand how it can benefit them both personally and professionally.

The likely concerns over agile may include less time for conversation in the office, and less interaction with colleagues, so you need to make sure you have the answers to those concerns in your story.

Agile can provide a risk to engagement as it can mean employees become more isolated if you are not set up as a business to make agile work. You need to make sure you have the building blocks in place, and help guide employees through the concept of agile in your business.

The right culture

If agile is going to work in your business, you need to make sure that you have a culture that encourages and rewards good collaboration. One of the risks of agile is that you risk losing a mechanism to innovate and collaborate by removing regular face 2 face interaction, so you need to make sure that your collaborative behaviours are well set into your culture.

The most effective way to make collaboration work through agile is to put it at the heart of your business, the ‘how we do things’. If you build collaboration into your values, behaviours and competencies it will help guide employees to the right behaviours.

The other key element to making agile work is a culture of trust; your leaders really need to empower employees to take accountability and deliver to outcomes.

One of the key benefits of agile is that it removes some of the hierarchal constraint that can sometimes be a barrier to employees having a voice in business. The hierarchal relationship still has a place in agile, but the collaborative culture you need to make it work gives you a mechanism for conversations that cut across all levels in a business.

The right tools

The final piece in the agile jigsaw is having the right tools. This is where social tools such as Yammer, SharePoint & Lync have a real role to play in the future.

With an agile workforce you need the right tools in place to enable your employees to collaborate, and tools such as Lync and Yammer enable individual and group conversations, with tools like SharePoint enabling collaboration through document sharing and discussion forums.

Digital is the key to making agile working a success; you need to make sure that your digital toolkit provides employees with the interaction and knowledge management they need to be able to work and collaborate from any location.

Another consideration is to make sure that employees are equipped with smart tools such as tablets and smartphones so that they can access tools quickly and easily through Applications. The likes of Yammer have an app that can be accessed through devices that can be an enabler to employees contributing to conversations whilst on the move.

The final piece in the toolkit is to not forget face 2 face communication. In a digital world, face2face is becoming more difficult, but by allowing your employees time to get together and interact on a regular basis you will retain the strength of your internal relationships and networks that can be supplemented through digital.

Summary

Agile working can provide real benefit to businesses, and looking into the future it is likely to become a significant change to the traditional way of working. It is important Communicators look at agile now so that the story, culture and tools are in place and ready to deploy as businesses evolve.

The traditional communication channels, metrics and approach are all still relevant in an agile world, but if the primary role of Communications is to facilitate conversation and share the organisational journey with employees it has a huge role to play in making agile work successfully.

If you can get agile right, it can be another driver towards high engagement.

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