Intranet projects are often either delayed or derailed by impending changes be they structural, environmental or personnel. As a vendor this can be frustrating, but I believe the greater loss is borne by the organisation which is missing out on a powerful platform that would actually help to manage that change.
The best way to manage change is an intranet
Usually change management discussions occur around the introduction of a new platform, rather than using a platform to manage change. However as the central hub for information, connection and learning, the intranet is the perfect tool to help people understand change and feel supported as they adapt to a new reality.
Before, during and after change, your intranet can:
- Keep people informed and foster two-way communication
- Create ownership by involving employees in the change making process
- Build a strong culture to withstand knocks
- Connect people
- Provide a clear path to resources
- Provide training and support
- Facilitate onboarding
- Problem-solve with crowd-sourced ideas
- Track sentiment and success of the change
- Manage employee turnover more efficiently
The right time
There are infinite variations, but in my experience, most intranet project interruptions occur because of a limited range of reasons. Paradoxically, these very reasons are also when your intranet is most needed:
Acquiring a new business
Acquisition is one of the most tumultuous times in a company’s history. According to a pre-pandemic MIT Sloan doctoral paper, 33 percent of staff resign within 12 months of their start-up’s acquisition, compared with 12 percent of similar, regular employees.
“Employees often lose trust in their organisations and feel betrayed by leadership.” Deloitte
While financial incentives to stay will probably help, a comprehensive retention campaign can be delivered through the intranet integrated with existing work platforms like Microsoft Teams. Messages of support, clarity around company and employee roles & performance, and transparency and credibility-building for leadership can have a significant impact on morale and turnover. It’s also a good idea to deliver a tailored onboarding experience to acquired staff.
Can anyone think of an example of sudden, comprehensive macroenvironmental change? There is no need to labour this point. The pandemic showed how useful – how essential – is a central platform for employee communications as well as collaboration and social connection in a time of uncertainty and shifting legislation.
In many cases, rapid growth is one of the reasons organisations choose to implement an intranet. Sudden expansion however, such as a large new client or government contract can make internal project priorities pale in comparison as everyone scrambles to meet new deadlines and requirements. It is imperative not to lose focus on internal controls, however. Now is the time to introduce structure and rigour to document management, consistency to new staff induction and better compliance controls around policy attestation and information security. All these things can be accomplished – often with existing technology – within a well-designed intranet.
Major change in leadership
When a key staff member leaves, you lose their skills and experience, and potentially an important thread in the social fabric. Because of their visibility and influence on strategy, methodology and culture, the loss of a senior leader is much more profound and can have far-reaching impacts. To minimise uncertainty and head off rumours, immediate, clear communication is required. This should come from the departing leader, from his or her replacement and from the broader executive team. As with acquisition, clarity and transparency are key. Where a “listening tour” used to be the first step, this may not be desirable. A personal message from the home office can be shared on the intranet, and a Q&A session on Teams or series of virtual roundtables may reassure team members and help them get to know their new senior leader on a personal and professional level. Similarly, the intranet is a great resource for an incoming executive to gain an understanding of the culture.
A few years ago, one of the big four Australian professional consultancy firms moved to a brand new Sydney office, simultaneously introducing activity-based working. They needed a strategy for a smooth transition to minimise work disruption and staff frustration. My team created a platform to help people navigate their day – book a desk or a meeting room, print a document and generally find their way around. Once again, an intranet was the solution to managing change rather than something to be placed in the “not now” priority list.
Waiting for the “right” time
There is never a good time to have a baby and the same can be said for launching an intranet. Both are generally accomplished with some roaring and screaming and then require a period of adjustment. There are always reasons not to commit to the process – not enough money, arguments about names, possible change of location… but if you wait until everything is smooth sailing you will be waiting until the end of time.
The intranet can be the glue that binds us in uncertain times. From providing valuable information and training to dissolving hierarchical barriers and helping people connect socially, an intranet offers incredible value through change. As I’m sure you’ve noticed: change is well and truly the new normal. Don’t make the mistake of delaying your intranet’s implementation, it will prove its value time and time again.