my world of work and user experiences

July 31, 2022

Little things: Employee centric communication

Filed under: Adoption — frederique @ 19:48

When we introduce a new digital workplace or a new intranet, for example, we determine the approach to help the users adopt the new technology. Yes, the broad strokes. But we should also pay attention to the little things, like how we communicate with the representatives of the user groups.

Put yourself in their place. They are not as involved in the project to introduce the new technology as you are. They don’t know as well as you do what it is about, why it would be relevant for them, what is supposed to happen, how it will work. So if we want them to be engaged, to give us the input and feedback we need, we should not make them guess about these things. We have to be very clear and employee-friendly in our communication.

The representatives need to be volunteers: ask them, don’t send them

We need a sounding board, to get input and feedback from the organization. We need key users or ambassadors, or however we call them, to inspire and help their colleagues with the new technology. But it doesn’t work if management just tells some employees that they have to be ambassadors. It doesn’t work if these people do not want that role. So we need to approach this in an employee-centric way.

  • Ask people if they want to take part. Preferably, the person to ask them is someone they know, but some people may even volunteer if you post a call for ambassadors.
  • Clarify what that role entails, what you expect from them and what they get out of it.
  • Make sure their manager will allow them to play that role and appreciate them for it.

Send clear and timely invitations

When we invite anyone, especially representatives from the organization, to workshops or other sessions, we need to send them participant-centric invitations:

  • Send the invitation plenty of time in advance, at least a few weeks for sessions longer then an hour. People are busy, so you cannot expect them to have time for your meeting when you invite them late.
  • Invite them for a location that is practical for them. If they cannot travel to headquarters for a meeting on-site, consider conducting them session online. The key point is that the session should be optimal for them, to reach the goals that you all are trying to reach.
  • Clarify in your invitation what are the goals of the session, what you expect from them and if they should prepare anything.

Explain cancelations

If you cancel a session, explain why it is cancelled. Is the session no longer needed? Is there a change of plan? Will it be rescheduled? Is it caused by a technicality: someone else will send a replacement invitation?

I have seen quite a bit of unrest among ambassadors, when a meeting was cancelled. It had to be replaced by an invitation sent by a different organiser. However, that replacement was not send immediately afterwards, so the participants had plenty of time to wonder what was going on, if the programme was in trouble. Some of them started to accept other meetings for that timeslot. All of this could have been avoided if the meeting cancelation message had included an explanation.

Keep them informed

We’re in this together, the project team and the representatives from the organization. So don’t ask them to give you information in a workshop and them make them feel like their input disappeared into a black hole.

  • Tell them what came out of it, what you are doing with their input.
  • Keep them informed on important milestones.
  • If the next steps are delayed, tell them. Do not make them think you have forgotten all about them.
  • But do not spam them with more information than they need. For example, put the updates and announcements in a Microsoft Teams environment that you share with them, so that they can read what’s happening when they have time. Only draw their attention to posts when you need them to take action.

All of this is not rocket science. But I do see that the ball gets dropped sometimes, usually because the project team is too busy, when there are other issues taking up their time and energy. But the one thing we should not skip is involving our user groups. Just don’t forget these little things.

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