5 Essential Notes to Create an Effective, Harmonious Intranet

Do you have an intranet?

Would internal communications be one of your responsibilities, or as an executive do you regularly contribute content?

For those of you who have access to an intranet your thoughts on it will probably fall in to one of three typical responses.

1. It’s the best way to find out anything to do with our organisation

2. It’s ok but hard to keep updated

3. I can’t recall the last time I used it, everyone hates it

[If you have an alternative view please feel free to share…]

Well designed, with easily accessible and relevant data, an intranet should be an essential communication resource for all. Your intranet should be the perfect accompaniment to other communication tools and impress sufficiently to take centre stage in supporting your strategic objectives.

So why do many intranets fail to work in harmony with leadership goals and the needs of staff?

Potentially, like many organisations we’ve spoken with on the topic, despite initial enthusiasm and positivity your views now fall back into answers 2. and 3. above when considering your intranet experience.

If you are concerned as to the performance of your intranet, or about to launch one, the following notes may help orchestrate your thinking.

There are five key factors that must be established for an intranet to hit the perfect note. if it’s not working as hoped it’s likely one or more of the five is striking the wrong chord.

  1. C-Suite Composers — It Starts at the Top — If your CEO and executive team are not invested in the intranet, prepared to create a clear strategy, design and invest sufficient time, resource and commitment it will not succeed. Building trust encourages engagement within the organisation and it demands executive level buy-in. Let’s face it if the senior management team are using other methods of communication, in preference to the intranet, you can hardly blame employees for following their lead.

“The art of communication is the language of leadership” — James C. Humes

2. Conductors — individuals who should be clearly identified as having intranet management responsibility and afforded the full support of the Composers. The intranet needs to be managed and supported by those who can best interpret the C-Suite notes and manage their delivery. The tone of communication needs to be set here and a clear understanding of the rules of engagement, including what is appropriate and not suitable for the platform. Measuring the performance of the platform is also an essential role of the Conductor.

3. Performers — Creating content can be a critical point where many intranets struggle. Time, resource, style and conflicts of priority can often get in the way of delivering appropriate, meaningful and engaging content. It’s not a job to be pushed down a line of authority. Content creation and delivery should be a clearly managed process, supported by the Composers and delivered under the watchful eye of the Conductors. Performers need an orchestral score to follow that sets out the policies and ensures a consistent approach to communication. In addition, an agreed schedule of performance ensuring regularity of updates and opportunities for engagement should be created.

4. Audience — The plan should be to deliver an experience akin to “Last Night of the Proms” rather than a passive, silent audience expected to simply receive broadcasts. Two-way communication should be facilitated, although you wouldn’t want the stage overrun and the performance affected. See note on sourcing feedback below.

“Research indicates that workers have three prime needs: Interesting work, recognition for doing a good job, and being let in on things that are going on in the company.” Zig Ziglar

5. Unfinished Symphony — For your intranet to remain current and interesting it must be driven with a constant need to supply fresh and relevant information. The platform itself must also continually be under scrutiny and strive to find better ways to deliver messages. By way of example effective use of video has transformed many intranet offerings. Intranets that are designed and launched as a completed project will fail. The best intranets are “alive” yet are not out of control. A measured, planned approach to design, development and updates is the perfect way to improve the experience for all involved.

If your organisation has decided to use an intranet platform its good practice to regularly review and assess its effectiveness. Take the time to survey users and those who are responsible for making it work. If the survey results are not positive, consider setting up a working group to address the issues and put in place a five-note plan (or your own variation). The key is to have a plan. Who knows you may find a harmonious way to raise the bar.

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