Saturday, 26 May 2012

Senior managers who don't 'get it'

I had the experience not so long ago of discovering that a senior manager not only didn't 'get' the point of a social intranet, he was positively hostile to it.  He valued face to face communication very heavily and saw workplace tweeting and blogging as the pied piper that would lead people away from it. I did my best to bring him round, with arguments such as it's not a replacement, it's a supplement; that it enables people in remote offices and who work from home to feel involved, and so on.  I succeeded to the point where he dropped his opposition and allowed his team to work with me to implement it. 

The social intranet took off, or seemed to.  But this person never contributed anything.  I also noticed that nor did the majority of his colleagues on the senior team.  My fear is that by working round him (and them) rather than truly getting them on board, I introduced a social intranet that will forever be stunted in its growth.  It will remain OK to talk about social and/or non-controversial business topics, but serious business-related discussions - particularly where controversy is involved - won't happen.

I'm still not sure what the right course of action is when top level support isn't really there - work round, or make getting that support the first and paramount goal?


Samuel Driessen said...

Thanks for commenting on my post. Oh, I can relate to your situation big time! There are different ways around this problem. It depends on the importance and influence of the manager and the type of organization you're in. What can help is show that person how valuable these new platforms can be by showing real business value (which is not: more engagement, communicating the brand values, etc. But more like: better products, faster time-to-market, etc.) Most managers love this.
Asking for time to prove your case can also help. Make it an experiment that can succeed but also fail.
Share problems in the organization. Surely in large organizations there are limitations to live-meetings. What's his solution to these problems? More meetings?
Hope this helps. And great to hear you worked around it.

Will be following your blog from now on. :-)

Simon Carswell said...

Thanks, Samuel. You make some good points there. I think the point about demonstrating tangible business value is a very good one. Easier said than done - but no-one has claimed this stuff is necessarily easy!

Odessa Winston said...

Timely topic indeed. Not all employees are able to grasp the "hows" of internet thus how much more social intranets? It is important that those who are not internet-literate is taught of the basics. Intranet as well should be introduced gradually to employees that are not that good with computers especially those of older ages. A one-on-one assistance could be good as well. Here is an article you might want to read as well: