Trying to get leaders to understand the potential and value of creating an open and collaborative business can sometimes be a hard sell. One of the key milestones is to get them embracing and supporting the deployment of tools and associated behavioural change required to utilise the investment.

Key elements when approaching leaders should include:

  • Explain the key elements of open / social working
    • Outline the need to appeal to individual’s ‘intrinsic motivators’
    • Provide practical examples of individuals becoming more effective and engaged
    • Guide them on how to develop and spread the habit via doing
    • Explain how they would “contribute to people in their organisations to deepen the relationship”?And also why should they?
    • Don’t replicate a process. It has to replace it or be something new.

Using the ‘seeing is believing’ mantra here are some tips to get your leader involved. O365 is used in this examples but this would apply to most collaboration and open business technologies.

1- Explain to them the overall benefits, ideally linking to the overall strategy. Normally the benefits would include:

o Enables ‘new ways of working’ by providing:
 Access everywhere, anytime
 Transparent and open working
o Builds a connected organisation enhancing business agility
o Increases employee engagement
o Improves team collaboration
o Enables external collaborative working

2- Set out the benefits for the leader (try to understand what would be key motivations prior to the session). These could be:

• Build a personal brand across the organisation
• Network across silos
• Increase engagements and receive feedback
• Access and share documents easier
• Network / collaborate externally
• Manage meetings and reporting more effectively
• Build a connected organisation by increasing participation in Townhall events

3 – Getting the leaders started

• Update their Profile with skills and experiences and explain the benefits.
• Profiles and reputations develop fast in the online world. Yammer offers Leaders new ways to promote their views and skills
• Leaders will emerge that may otherwise have been hidden in dark corners
• Yammer gives everyone the chance to share their views in an open forum
• Contributions are a lot more transparent and the Personal Brands Leaders create allow leadership potential to be spotted
• Smart Leaders and Talent teams embrace this opportunity.

4 – Spend 5 minutes building or expanding their network on Yammer

• Guide them on how to ‘follow’ people and join ‘groups’.
• Ask them to pick a few key words around topics which reflect their role and aspirations within the company (don’t just follow the people you already know) and use the ‘search’ option to explore what people and groups have similar interests.
• Begin following and see the value it may begin to bring.
• Don’t suggest they select hundreds or they will be ‘drowned in the noise’.

5 – Explain the power of ‘liking posts’

• Leaders should be taught the power of liking posts.
• A ‘like’ from a Leader has a big impact and is a good way to drive colleague engagement and motivate action all in one second.
• Encourage Leaders to use the ‘like’ option but also to be aware of the impact that ‘like’ can have if it’s not actually genuine.
• Before they know it a whole new process could be accidentally developed.

6 – Get them to join conversations and ask them to assess what benefit this has brought them over a period of a few weeks.

• Leaders’ reactions to posts shape how people perceive them as leaders
• What’s key is to teach Leaders how to handle conversation well and to do so publicly
• Over zealous comments or poor ends up sending a much louder message than simply responding in a well thought through manner

7- More things to remember

• At the outset it’s too easy for leaders to say it’s not for me. You want colleagues to make an informed choice knowing what is on offer before they decide not to use it, not to decide against it because it’s a big unknown quantity.
• If they are resistance or believe they need ‘training’ before they use it then offer them this through beginners coaching sessions
• It’s a self-updating skill set once they are on the bandwagon but at the start you don’t want to leave good talent behind. Everyone should be given equal opportunity to shine.

8 – Next steps

Once they are confident and comfortable with this way of open working then get them to expand. The next steps will be:

• Running a crowdsourcing session ‘ Yamjam to increase participation and innovation
• Hold ‘Town Hall’ events to increase engagement
• Sharing a vision for a better future and they ask their people to co-create this together in open innovation forums.
• Get them to ask colleagues to combine our strengths and spend more time collaborating around that which we wished to accomplish, rather than that which we wished to avoid, what’s possible?
• They co-design what is next.

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