Communication in a big or small enterprise is very important. Without communication, the business won’t be able to run like a well-oiled machine. Communication serves as one of the bloodlines of every business and without it commands, orders and important decisions from upper management will not be relayed to the entire workforce. Without communication, each department would not be able to voice their suggestions and plans to their managers for further approval. Without communication, each team that is tasked to take action on specific targets or goals will not be able to do their job efficiently. Without communication an entire enterprise can turn into a headless chicken running around without a sense of direction or any meaningful goal in place.
Wars and battles are won due to effective use of communication. 30 years ago, companies relied heavily on telephones, fax machines and simple intranet setups to communicate within the workforce. Now, with many advancements in technology, the modern intranet and other enterprise collaborative tools have introduced more engagement in organisations.
Understanding The Intranet
An intranet is best described as the organisation’s collection of private computer networks. These private networks help in facilitating effective collaboration and communication across the workforce. Intranets also enhance the ability to share and get data for the company. An intranet is generally used as a productivity tool in many modern companies. Network hardware and standard software are used by today’s intranets. Hardware includes wifi, web servers, ethernet and web browsers. Most intranets provide internet access protected by a firewall to prevent any unauthorised access from within or from outside sources. If intranet access is required by personnel in the field, special encryptions provide for safe access and usability.
A simple intranet setup could include an internal email and message board. A more complex intranet setup would include websites that show company information, the company database, personal information about employees, forums and news about the company. An intranet also has the ability to upload, save and download documents, databases and run internal websites.
Encouraging Teamwork By Using The System
An office intranet will only work if the people that are supposed to use it are taking advantage of its tools and participate in the whole intranet scheme the company has implemented. Lack of participation and collaboration will make an intranet system useless and just a big waste of money. Even if you have implemented the most high tech and savvy intranet system for your company, if no collaboration and communication is happening through it, it will just be time wasted. One good way of making an intranet work and to encourage team collaboration is by knowing what motivates your people to participate in the first place. How can you encourage teamwork and provide an effective team management environment using an intranet system? Make them understand that an intranet is useful and will encourage:
1. A Sense of Teamwork
If your staff see the office intranet as a productive tool, they will feel motivated to share and get content from it. If your team feels that the intranet is something they own and that they can be a part of, they will be encouraged to post relevant content that the team and other departments may find useful. Do not make them feel that the system is something that will tie them to their work and especially don’t give the impression that the bosses are forcing them to use the system.
What you should do to foster teamwork is to assign formal or informal leaders within your team. You have to show them how an intranet will work to everybody’s advantage, making everybody work and communicate better. Give them the role of making the intranet a productive place by encouraging them to seed the system with relevant, useful and fun content. If they are sold on this idea, they themselves will be encouraged to use it and share it to their respective teams for enhanced collaboration.
Encourage your team to provide feedback to improve the overall experience of the system. Regularly remind everyone that content shared on the intranet contributes to its effectiveness and success. The system is also good for increasing morale within the company. Highlight employees that perform beyond their duties, showcase their achievements and show them how proud the company is to have good people that contribute to the company’s success.
2. A Sense of Community and a Fun Social Network
The intranet should not be all work. There should be a balance of work and non-work related content to make it more appealing to your employees. It is also proven that most successful intranet systems are the ones with the most employee collaboration and interaction. Provide fun content like funny memes, short videos, birthday announcements, welcome new employees, congratulate co-workers for their promotions and announced service awards. It encourages people to be more involved if they are recognised by their peers and co-workers.
3. Unselfish Concern
This is the practice of or devotion to doing unselfish things for the welfare of others. Once the whole workforce is sold on the idea of how useful the intranet is to them and to the company as a whole, they will feel motivated to participate in the implementation and continued use of the system. Why? Because they will see that the system helps them in identifying their needs and quickly responds to them.
Promote and create intranet content that can be useful to everybody and to the company as a whole. It can be business related or a bit of fun, whatever works that will encourage true sharing and collaboration across the workforce. Promote talks using the intranet discussion boards, chat rooms, questions and inquiries, how-to’s and wikis. Use discussion boards, chat rooms and emails to promote the workforce, ask questions, get prompt answers and help co-workers with certain inquiries or issues. Explain how this relevant content will benefit everybody from individual employees up to the decision makers at the very top floor. An intranet can lay the foundations for building a trusted community within the organisation.
Another way of promoting the use of the system is being transparent or honest by providing truthful information to everyone. Posting good news as well as bad news will let the employees feel that they are in the loop and not being left out of the organisation’s bigger picture. Being direct and honest will bring respect and appreciation from across the workforce. It’s of course acceptable for confidential information to remain confidential, but if there’s information that would benefit everybody, it should be shared.
5. Positive Competition
This where you highlight a team, a department or an individual employee because of their achievements and their contribution to the intranet and to the company. Encourage your people to be the best, give the best answers to inquiries, post the best content or showcase the best intranet section. Use the intranet to spread exciting news and the latest information. Keep them informed about the latest happenings in the company. Showcase or recognise an employee who provides the most useful answers to the team or someone with the most innovative use of the intranet system. Host contests over the intranet to promote fun competition, camaraderie, teamwork and productivity at the same time.
Implementing the right intranet can help your organisation reach its goals, especially if healthy collaboration, teamwork and time management are being fostered by the system.