One of the key challenges many companies have to face when deploying social collaboration and KM platforms is facing the new realism of becoming ‘stewards’ rather than ‘moderators’ of the environment. Rather than monitoring behaviours, those responsible for stewardship of the platform (whether Enterprise or local community managers) need to understand how to influence rather than control behaviours (comments).

Removing and banning members is the last straw and will also certainly lose any goodwill in changing behaviours in an organisations that have attempted to spread a collaborative culture whilst dealing with legacies of failed online forums or procedures that conflict with a desire to get people collaborating.

You can influence what people say (more possible than most realise) and there are several methods to achieve this. The most common is to showcase the behaviour you want. People broadly do what they see others doing. If they see petty fights, personal attacks, and more they’re going to engage in them. If they see thoughtful, constructive, debates they’re more likely to participate in them.

You can indoctrinate members by recruiting advocates that understand and embrace the philosophy and ‘culture’ of the community and are willing to influence others as they join. Third, easiest, is to prime behaviour immediately prior to posting comments through stage management. This works well in the conceptual and embryonic stages but you need the advocates to eventually perform this as part of their ‘community duties’.

One good piece of collateral its worth producing is a guide for ‘managers’ to ‘deal with conversations’. These are some good community guidelines on how to deal with certain behaviours and how to respond. At one of my clients we developed a 7 step guide to dealing with ‘risky’ conversations that was sent to many of the ‘manager’ grades and developed a group for managers to seek guidance and support in dealing with issues. Coaching internal communicators is also key as they begin to see the possibilities and the dangers of very reactive platforms.

I’ll be eager to garner any insights from members what collateral has been produced to help companies deal with the changing conversational behaviours within companies that have deployed platforms such as Yammer?

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