5 ways SharePoint intranets improve change management

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Microsoft calls SharePoint, the new way to work together. I am willing to agree with that and advocate, further, in the last 12 months SharePoint, has radically altered the way I design any change management effort I roll out.

Toby Elwin, change management,

Classic change management, end-user, adoption phase.

Work together. Work faster. Work smarter … ok, that is a Microsoft SharePoint marketing angle as well, but they, all, are equally true.

Turn Incredible into Credible

Credibility for change management efforts begin when an organization stops treating change as a time period and treats change as a continuum.

Whether industry, technology, regulation, competition, or figuring the alchemy of employee motivation, change is constant.

Constant change relies on constant sharing and I have found working with Microsoft’s SharePoint application, a powerful enterprise, change management tool.

People commit to what they believe in. When peers and people they respect lend insight, in their words, they present a case for what to believe, then commitments begin to build. Sharing is the elemental power social media technology enable community collaboration.

A good lens to view change management is a product marketing or branding campaign. Marketing often looks at segment or community need and then hopes to fill segment need with value.

Segments usually define what the target is: gender, age, etc…, but social media has changed marketing forever to now focus on why of a segment’s interest and behavior. The marketing 2.0 world creates a change management design with SharePoint as the key invitation for community.

Markets or segments may provide quantitative potential of size and description, but people identify themselves more by interest and motivation. I wrote about this in my Buyer persona for organization strategy, but want to pull, intentionally, into the marketing world for alternative views to improve change management.

Telling Ain’t Changing

SharePoint intranets can host forums and communities for change management forums. Change management needs more than a superficial email strategy, more than a process or prescription checklist of what will happen. In training and development there’s a saying, ‘telling ain’t training‘, well, ‘telling ain’t changing‘ either.

The web and SharePoint portals enable the inter parts of the Internet for communities to share and collaborate without location limitations. An intranet is a network of internal sites your organization accesses through a web browser, such as Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox. Only people within your company can access an intranet.

No matter if your organization spreads across a state, across a county, across the world, or is within 1 building, SharePoint can improve collaboration and enable organization change more transparently.

Fear not! change management folk, even public relations (PR) has seen their world upended by social media engagement. PR, too provides us a map to improve change and lessons for our change management, SharePoint, intranet design.

PR is no longer rooted in broadcast methodologies and the single-focused, general messages that drive them. PR needs to follow the authoritative dialogue, wherever it takes place … Message broadcasting is usually ineffective in New Media, especially as it relates to influencer relations. Putting the Public Back in Public Relations

More than ever organizations can leverage Internet technologies that connect people and communities for the intra parts of their organization’s intranet.

Focus on Focus

Intra-organizational dialogue between stakeholders involves dialogue of people’s interest on how change impacts them, at their desk, on the job, and how they manage their tasks.

SharePoint provides multiple ways to build a portal where your organization can not only see latest announcements but participates in discussions and contribute to shared learning. more flexible than formal training and more widely available.

With 70% of training on-the-job, an intranet portal is the where and the why for change to start. Shared learning environments provide deeper penetration and reflection for more practical use as small-group interactions reveal opportunities to:

  • Reflect and reply,
  • Reinforce new discovery,
  • Connect with other user needs,
  • Discover diverse responses fellow learners bring to the questions raised, and
  • Create future collaboration coverage

Communities and small groups leverage adult learning styles for how training sticks:

  • Want solutions to problems
  • Have specific results in mind
  • Self-directed in their learning
  • Skeptical about new information
  • Want education specific to their needs that is timely and appropriate

Let’s look at SharePoint parts available to you without need for IT customization, coding, or additional licensing or third-party purchase. SharePoint calls these items web parts and they are modular for mix-and-match need.

Change Management SharePoint Web Parts

Web Parts enable designers and users to modify content and appearance of Web pages directly from a browser. This list provides some standard Web Parts and ways you can use their features for change management.
Web Part
Change Management
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) - using a list libraryInitial list anticipates common questions. But on-going, iterative list shows transparency as new people have are added and answers improve based on feedback.
Discussion BoardUser-generated open forum for questions, comments, and, yes, complaints. Review of board allows change leaders and sponsors insight into what is working and what is falling between cracks. Also mined for new topics on FAQs, announcements, and training.
Notification - Alerts,Don't make people come back for answers, when and if they remember. Allow them to sign up for an alert sent to their email or smart phone when new questions are answered, new comments added, or new information is added. Added feature: topic-specific alerts cut down on the clutter.
Notification - Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feedsNew item? Automatically receive the update with subscription-based, opt-in tool.
AnnouncementsNews, notes, and items of interest around the program. Also, opt-in and subscription-based with information, news, and updates to user or community.
LinksValuable set of links and descriptions you can arranges for categories like: training, resources, news, or program information set in neat, logical places for people to reference.

A Step From What You Write to What You Enable

Think also, of an intranet portal as a built-in focus group for your change team, always available, always on, and always iterative. You would never stifle a focus group, as that would bias and render their effort pointless. Neither should consideration be made to police, edit, or feel a need to monitor conversation:

Whether the online conversations are positive, neutral, or negative, the insight garnered from listening and observing will reveal opportunities not just for engagement, but also for gathering real-world intelligence—the type of information that is “ear to the street” and that you can feed back into your organization to improve the existing service, product, and management infrastructure. Then your organization will be able to effectively compete for the future. Putting the Public Back in Public Relations

Note: in SharePoint you can set items to got through an approval process before they post. For example: a discussion board topic will not post until reviewed and approved. However, I strongly advocate against this type of [editorial] control.

Release the urge to control content. The goal is transparency. Here are 5 ways SharePoint intranets improve change management:

  1. Administrative burden to review and approve — minor but substantial as approvals back up for review, let them be free;
  2. Transparency into the organization’s view of change — take the opportunity to coach acceptable engagement, not stifle through word police and thought stormtroopers;
  3. Unfiltered dialogue provide words the organization uses, not the public relations mumbo-jumbo platitudes of what you try to sell;
  4. Engagement and feedback as a reinforcing loop people are heard, people matter, and this change is transparent, no hidden surprises, including delays, issues, troubles, and most of all the respect to share them; and
  5. User-generated content, not only in their own words, transfers the ownership of creating new copy and content from the change management “marketing team” onto the adopting team.

Finally, on these points, the content a change team creates is, after all, for the end-user to understand how change impacts them; what community needs to understand; and what people need to own. The more you invite them into the change impact, the more you create advocates and allies.

Sharing is Caring

Intranets are available no matter the organization size, if you work at a larger organization you likely already have an intranet available. Ask about SharePoint options. If your organization uses the Microsoft Office suite, SharePoint integrates and acts like the nervous system between these applications and may even be bundled already with your Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint programs.

Good intranet design, combined with change management efforts that link communication change principles, provide a host of change management options.

Resist the discussion to drive people to change. Change succeeds when we realize What’s In It For Them? (WIFFT?) and that is our job to provide the environment.

Resist the change management strategy that hopes people buy-in to change. Change succeeds when we realize What’s In It For Me? (WIFFM?) and that is our job to provide the environment.

In today’s business world your company’s intranet is a perfect choice for organization, collaboration, and change management, because the way your organization collaborates is a competitive advantage.

That’s the point of why you share and that’s the start of communication.

For more ideas on SharePoint this YouTube video is a great start.

Other SharePoint Resources