Are employees rejecting SharePoint ?(Melcrum internal comms hub – case study)

An article on Melcrum, a networking site on strategic communication challenges, drew my attention via a note on Yammer.

They asked 2 communication experts to argue whether or not employees rejecting SharePoint.

Sam Marshall, director of ClearBox Consulting Ltd says: Yes
– Employees still use email attachments
– Team sites are often document graveyards
– Low adoption rates on blogs / My Sites
– Employees have to be active content participants instead of passive readers
– Employees are used to working with email, attachments, network drives
– SharePoint is highly complex
– User interface is unpleasant
– Training is too much on “how” instead of “why”
– Behavior issues are rarely directly addressed at launch time
– Employees are given building blocks instead of a solution to their problem

Camilla Herrmann, internal and digital communications consultant says: No
– Collaboration is about people working together, not just the use of a tool
– Email attachment habit is hard to break
– There is an appetite among Gen Y workers for something more then just email
– Organizations need to send a strong message that collaboration is a good thing (example of forum on the intranet)
– People search is very powerful
– Social workplace is still new – organizations need to take small steps via (example of comments on news items)
– Views can save your employees hours of work
– If properly planned, well supported and actively launched, SP can be a ground-breaking application

Both parties have excellent points and in my opinion a lot of them are true.
But the best quote is one I found in the comments:
SharePoint is just a platform. If it is not properly launched (with a good training and support) and people are rejecting it, who’s fault is it ?

You have to admit: email and attachments are darn easy to use and send! But you have great tools that can support you in saving emails in SharePoint libraries and emailing the link!

A lot of the points Sam makes is simply Change Management, the factor most overlooked in SharePoint projects:
You have to tell people WHY and HOW SharePoint is going to make their life easier.
Why do you need to add metadata? To find your document faster.
Why do you have version management ? So you can immediately see which one is the current version, without losing the other changes people have made.

Implementing SharePoint is not like installing a new email-system: The technology part is just 20%.
You need rules. You need internal marketing. You need SharePoint Champions. You need governance. You need user training. You need vision.

If you are going to use a new platform with new capabilities, you have to show people the added value and hold their hand when they take their first steps. People are out of their comfort zone, and it is your job to make them feel comfortable again in their new situation.
Don’t just give them Lego Blocks, but tell them what the blocks can do, how they can connect and most important: give them some ideas on what they can create with it.
Don’t just give them an engine and some wings. Show them pictures of an airplane. Tell them what cool things the airplane can do for them. In no time, they will build their own airplane, with the functionalities they need to do their job.

There is a role for everyone here:
– Implementation partners / IT have to deliver great performance and superb support – no one wants to use an applications that constantly fails
– Coaches / Champions have to be around to help people build their space ships or castles or fire stations
– Communication department must start deliver the possibilities to help people speak their mind and enable blogs / ratings / comments
– Managers must act as leading examples: start blogging / tweeting / Yammering / insert your tool here / and show people that it is ok to think, that it is ok to speak your mind, to think out of the box
– Change managers have to focus on Why this tool is getting used, and show the direct /indirect benefits for the employees!
There is tons of great information online for all roles: youtube is filled with SharePoint how-to movies, technet info on how to keep your SharePoint running smooth, marketing/PR information to build interest, managers with blogs, …

Start with the small steps, people will grow and start taking giant leaps in no time!

About: Marijn

Marijn Somers (MVP) has over 14 years experience in the SharePoint world, starting out with SP2007. Over the years the focus has grown to Office 365, with a focus on collaboration and document management. He is a business consultant at Balestra and Principal Content Provider for "Mijn 365 Coach" that offers dutch employee video training. His main work tracks are around user adoption, training and coaching and governance. He is also not afraid to dig deeper in the technicalities with PowerShell, adaptive cards or custom formatting in lists and libraries. You can listen to him on the biweekly "Office 365 Distilled" podcast.

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