ESN Horror Series Part III: ‘An Apparition in the Office’

By October 31, 2014Blog posts

Yesterday we heard the frightful tale of a whole community being wiped out without warning, owing to a lack of transparency and collaborative working across a global organisation.

And now I’ll leave you with some truly spooky goings on to kick off your Halloween weekend..

‘An apparition in the office’

Peter woke with a startle, cold sweat streaming down his cheeks and perhaps he’d also been dribbling, ‘oh dear’! What time was it? Peter had fallen asleep at his desk (not the first time) and the clock was approaching midnight. ‘I must get home..’
Peter got up from his desk. Looking up he jumped! What had he just seen? A figure darting past his office door.
‘I must be tired’ he thought. But no, there it was again. It must have been the cleaners.

He opened his door and started down the corridor, but was met with a terrific howl. He stopped, unable to move. A figure at the end of the corridor, wailing, saw Peter and called out in a harrowing slur,
‘Why didn’t you choose me?’
‘You needed me!’
‘The mission failed!’

Over and over, Peter, petrified, didn’t know what to do. What was happening? I must be going mad. Please stop! Please stop! Stop!

Tuesday morning, 8am. Peter marched into his office, determined. What a strange, awful dream he’d had. A part of him still wasn’t sure if it had been a dream. Was he really here? Did he go home late? What did it all mean? He shrugged – nothing of course, what a silly dream.

Peter had bigger problems to deal with. He’d just overseen the rollout of the company’s new enterprise social network to 30,000 employees across the retail company he headed up HR for. The launch was a fantastic success, with 19,000 employees signed up to the network within the first week of rollout. But when the project team reviewed engagement levels in the platform 3 weeks later, they noticed a sharp drop in the number of users actually interacting with the platform.

What had they done wrong? Peter and his team had provided detailed user guides, one pagers and a series of webinars on all new features, reaching all teams across the organisation. They’d communicated potential use cases to all staff which they could then pursue themselves in their teams. They’d run a week long campaign, sharing tips and tricks on the network each day. Their CEO had sent an email out on the first day of launch endorsing the platform and welcoming the business transformation this technology would help bring about. The CEO was now starting to put pressure on Peter – why had they invested in a technology that staff weren’t using?

What happened next?

Peter was at a loss as to what to do, so called in an Enterprise Social expert, Sarah, to see what was going wrong. After reviewing the situation up to that point, Sarah asked,

‘Where is your Community Manager?’

Well of course that was a ridiculous idea. I vetoed that early on. Someone in the Comms team kept pestering me, saying we needed this role and offering to take it on…

And suddenly it dawned on Peter what his nightmarish vision meant. That figure was the Community Manager who never got the role and this was the fatal flaw in his plan. Peter had never come across community management before, he didn’t understand it’s importance in this project and he had dismissed it straight away.

Sarah explained that this project was about a transformation in the way staff worked and how the company operated overall. This was not about rolling out some tools and hoping staff would use them. This was not about a change that happened on launch day, but an evolving journey of change. What was vital was to develop and harness an enthusiastic community of staff who wanted to change how they worked and wanted to use this new technology to make that change happen. To pursue this end, the project team needed a community manager with a coherent community management strategy and a dependable network of ‘social champions’.

Luckily for Peter, all hope was not lost. He could turn things around and appoint a community manager for the next ‘phase’ of his project, one that would be steadfastly focussed on driving community engagement. And he was certain his nightmares would fade away.

What could they have done instead?

  • When setting up his project team, Peter should have sought guidance and expertise from as many interested parties as possible and potentially external experts in enterprise social rollouts
  • Peter should have viewed and treated community management as a vital element to the rollout, appointing a Community Manager and helping this person develop a community management strategy that aligned to the overall goals of the project, the company’s culture and had the buy-in of HR, IT, Comms and the core lines of business
  • The Community Manager should then have worked to this strategy and plan, focussing initially on building out a network of enthusiastic social champions to help lead the change and to enable this change to scale across an organisation of 30,000 staff
  • The ongoing role of the Community Manager and champions would then be to guide, help and inspire end users, surface success stories, identify new use cases, run engagement events and activities and report back on engagement levels and benefits realisation.

If you need some assistance in avoiding any of these pitfalls please reach out to us.

Author: Nina Pattinson

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