“How do I get my Senior Management Team (SMT) using the intranet?”

This is a question I get asked more often than I would like, as fundamentally they should be treated the same as any other user. However the answer is simple, the intranet needs to be made useful for them.

There are three stages to go through:

1) Demonstration

This will require some preparation on your behalf, so that you can show practical applications rather than abstract concepts. Be selective in what you show – make your choices based on what you think they would be supportive of and able to do. Don’t go and show them the entire functionality the first time you show them the intranet. You are seeking evolution not revolution!

2) Exploration

Discuss how these tools can fit in with what they may already be doing elsewhere. They don’t need to be tech savvy as there are easy-to-use tools they can adopt to help support their objectives. Which of the tools could they use and gain benefit from? Highlight that these benefits could be personal, as well as work related.

3) Support

You may also need to play the role of coach finding out what level of familiarity and experience they have and where they think they might need some guidance and expertise. Be willing to be their coach and help them feel comfortable with having coaching. Ask which of the tools that could be used would they be comfortable using? Would they like to be shown how?

5 characteristics to win over your SMT

The above approach is no different to that which you would adopt with the wider community of users, but it is important to reflect five unique characteristics when you are talking to C-suite execs (aka your SMT):

1) Be consultative

Ideally you will get time with them early on in the design phase, when intranet objectives and roles and responsibilities are being defined. You can ask them to contribute to the intranet objectives and explain that you are looking to ensure that the intranet can help the organisation achieve its corporate aims.

If your intranet is already established and you are trying to engage them in the business as a usual phase, this approach might need some tweaking (ideally you would have involved them as early as possible). However, you can go to them requesting their input into the continuous improvement of the intranet. You should go prepared with some awareness of their current activity and usage of the intranet so you can ask them how it could further benefit and help them.

2) Be focused

Find out what their personal and business goals are? What do they want to achieve? What does the function that they head up wish to achieve? Show how the intranet can be used to help them advance in pursuit of those objectives. As mentioned before, resist the temptation to show all the tools, find out which ones they have understanding of and get their commitment to use them.

3) Be understanding

Understand that the intranet can be a new, more efficient channel for things they are already doing, as well as a channel that offers them new opportunities. How much of the ‘new’ you show them might be dependant on their reaction to, and therefore comfort with, change. If you suspect that showing them new options may overwhelm them then look to focus on how what they do currently can be delivered through the intranet.

4) Be mobile

Go to them. Most SMT are pushed for time, so if you ask for a 30 minute meeting don’t exceed it. Ask them what they want to see and be prepared. Take the opportunity to show them that they don’t need to be connected to the intranet via a laptop and they can contribute while they are mobile.

5) Be adaptable

As with any users, it is important to understand that the approach you take with one member of the SMT might not be the same you take with another. They will each have different objectives, challenges and motivations, therefore it is important to see the intranet functionality as a tool box.

3 simple rules your SMT can follow

As a result of all your activities you should look to get some commitment from them to change. They need to set the tone. If they are seen to be active and interactive then this behaviour will trickle down.

Seek their suggestions of what they can do next – they should be looking to do more than they are currently. Encourage them to think about what they can share and who they connect with.

If they need a prompt as to how they can get involved, share with them these three simple rules:

1) Share

Give employees an insight into their work and objectives. It could be as simple as a frequent status update to say what they are doing, or it might be a more comprehensive blog to give an update of the month. Video is a great communications tool, so if they were comfortable with the idea then film their update and have a transcript added to the intranet.

DWF shares what it achieved thanks to regular blogs from Andrew Leaitherland, CEO.

2) Ask

What question could they ask their employees? They could look to seek feedback via a blog but equally they could ask a question of the company via a forum.

3) Recognise

Who would they like to acknowledge? They could commit to spending 30 minutes per week looking at the content and activity of those within their team and interact with the content of others. This could be achieved by liking, commenting or acknowledging the author for an engaging and beneficial contribution. Who doesn’t like recognition for a job well done, and getting this from your senior manager could be a great boost and act as future encouragement to0.

It is likely that the latter is the easiest to do more of. At the very least they should realise that spending more time on the intranet can be beneficial to them personally and the business. They will be able to listen more to what is going on and capture an insight into the mood of their employees.