Do we need to train employees to use social collaborative tools effectively?
NO! Of course not almost everybody uses Facebook, or Twitter…don’t they?
Well firstly, no they don’t.
Yes, many of them have an account, but just because they have an account doesn’t mean they use it. Secondly, using the tools for social/recreational purposes is not the same as using them for work. Even those of us that use them semi-professionally, as Personal Learning Networks, will need to adapt our online style for a behind the firewall, enterprise only platform.
But does this require training? Er.. yes and no..
Social/collaboration tools are really just communication vehicles and in more traditional companies you won’t get very far if you tell the managers “hey look at this it’s Facebook for (insert company name here)“. The key to successful adoption is to use them to solve problems. Each problem you successfully solve is like a seed germinating. As you plant more seeds across the business they should start to link to each other organically, but you can’t leave this to chance; Community Management is vital to success, as Clark Quinn of the ITA says you have to seed, feed and weed your community.
I recently introduced Chatter to some of our Customer Services managers and while I did position it as a way to solve a problem, I probably said too much about the wider possibilities when I should have just shut up and let them figure out the rest for themselves.
The reaction was predictable; they were concerned about the usual stuff, goofing off, posting inappropriate comments and posting work related advice that might be incorrect. These objections are straightforward to handle, but they do seem to require much repeating before they are accepted (see Jane Hart’s site for a list of great answers). After my presentation the meeting agenda moved back to the day to day concerns of their department. They talked about how they communicated changes to procedures. The changes came from one department then one person in each Customer Service team was responsible for explaining them in “layman’s terms” to their teams. So this one task was being duplicated at least 4 times in one location alone. It was at this point I made a rather obvious suggestion relating to my earlier presentation..
Now I won’t pretend that this is going to change all of their views on social media, but if we can solve specific problems across the business using Chatter then we are embedding it as a tool and it becomes a part of their work flow. This is a fundamentally different concept when compared to “Hello! Let’s all join the Company Community (companies are not communities)
This way we can help teams learn how to use the tool appropriately in smaller groups and because it has a work based context right from the start it should be perceived less as “Facebook for enterprise” and if you work somewhere like I do that’s important.