Business leaders today are becoming more aware of the many ways social knowledge networks can bring value to an organization. Communication is enhanced, knowledge is organized and accessible, products and customer service are improved, and business culture is strengthened through team collaboration. However, what many business leaders are failing to remember is that finding the right technology is only the first step in implementing a successful social knowledge network. The technology must be paired with smart planning and a well-thought-out structure.
Elizabeth Lupfer, social collaboration and HR expert, claims, “A social knowledge network is one part technology and two parts process. The technology is only an enabler, and may only be worth 20 percent of the total value of the intranet.” The other 80 percent of value is created through effective structure and long-lasting employee engagement. We have researched and created a 10-step social knowledge network success plan that if implemented properly can maximize the value of any social knowledge network.
1. Have a plan.
Taking the time to create a social knowledge network implementation plan for your organization ensures managers and employees are motivated and committed to maximizing the value of the network. The network will only become as valuable as managers and employees plan to make it. Setting expectations for productivity and engagement ahead of time is important.
2. Give employees a detailed explanation of how the social knowledge network connects to the organizational purpose.
Communicate the value and purpose of the social knowledge network. Employees must clearly understand how the social knowledge network will contribute to the organizational purpose, long term and short term goals of the organization, and their individual role.
3. Set up the organization and structure of the intranet at the
Understand the priorities of each department, region, and team within your organization and how they connect. Who communicates with whom the most? What knowledge is of most value to each team? Your social knowledge network structure should enhance easy collaboration between individuals who value the information being shared. Thinking about the structure of your social knowledge network in advance will allow for easier search capabilities in the network and less time wasted sifting through information that is not relevant.
4. Define roles and expectations around engagement for employees.
Collaboration can be encouraged by asking employees to share projects and knowledge on the social knowledge network so that all team members are on the same page and no question is asked twice.
5. Create and announce objectives with time-specific deadlines.
It is important to create quantitative and time-specific objectives for your social knowledge network, such as “60 percent of users will have contributed some knowledge to our social knowledge network by June 30th.” Creating measurable engagement expectations will encourage employees to actively work towards the objective and increase network participation toward a common goal.
6. Assign key social knowledge network ambassadors to start and maintain collaboration.
Have people in your organization serve as the “ambassadors” of the social knowledge network. The ambassadors will be the network’s support, taking care of employee questions and concerns about the social knowledge network and asking the correct individuals for answers when they don’t know the answer themselves.
7. Get the CEO and top level management involved.
CEO and top-level involvement in a social knowledge network is very valuable, as employees pay special attention to what leaders have to share. Top level management should post openly about company activities to keep employees inspired about the broader picture of the organization. Management contributions should push brand, company culture, and core values. Industry and competitor news, trends, and expectations should be shared by management as well.
8. Determine and reward achievement of Key Performance Indicators.
Financial and non-financial benefits are important ways to encourage employee engagement in your social knowledge network. Gift cards, time off, or simple acknowledgment given to active users are good ways to inspire employees to participate more. Rewards given to the most active team or department will encourage group involvement and can be a great way to spark participation.
9. Upload company documents and shared files.
Ensure that your social knowledge network is the main place to access information, forms, presentations, and documents of all kinds. Keep all documents updated and organized so that they are accurate and searchable within the platform. Onboarding information, required customer forms, sales presentations, marketing tools, company calendars, and price lists should all be easily accessible on your social knowledge network. This will immediately spark network participation because these documents are needed by many people in your organization who will now access them through your social knowledge network.
10. Be social!
Although your social knowledge network should be a valuable business tool, there are many benefits of adding social, non-business related activity. Social activity on your network will create increased openness, allowing employees to get to know each other better and become more comfortable with sharing thoughts and opinions. Adding personal employee profile contributions, weekly peer-to-peer shout-outs for special accomplishments, employee group activities outside of work, or even posting something humorous once a week can help your social knowledge network become more open and fun, drawing employees back to check and use the network more often.
Finding the right social knowledge network software for your organization is only the start.
Research from the 2014 Social Business Global Executive Study shows only 17 percent of respondents see their organization as having mature social business practices. Following these steps will help you successfully integrate your social knowledge network into the flow of work. Once your organization becomes a true social business, you’ll see measurable value in improved innovation, talent management, and operations.
If you are interested in learning more about how a knowledge base can break down silos within your organization, check out our white paper, Proving the Value: Getting Internal Buy-In for a Knowledge Base.
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