In this guest article, William Amurgis lists the necessary approaches to build a trustworthy intranet.
Last year, when my company conducted a comprehensive internal survey, I was surprised to learn that the intranet is — by far — the most trusted source of important information about the company. Other sources, including top leaders, direct supervisors, and co-workers, lag far behind the intranet.
How can this be?
I’ve developed some theories, and have conferred with our employees to confirm them.
If you’re seeking to make your intranet more vital, reliable, and trustworthy, here are ten simple tips that may help:
- Be respectful. In everything you do, demonstrate your respect for all the people of your organization, regardless of their rank, function, location, or tenure. Never forget that your intranet exists to serve them, not you. If you consistently adopt a service mentality, your people will notice.
- Be accessible. Develop multiple points of access for your intranet. Ours is available on desktops, at shared kiosks, from home, and from personal smartphones.
- Be relevant. Ensure that your efforts are consistent with your organization’s strategies and values. People tell me that they tune in as long as we offer something of interest to them and their jobs. The burden is on us to remain relevant.
- Keep pace with consumer technology. Your intranet need not necessarily be a breathtaking work of art, or feature all the latest technology, but it does need to possess a professional appearance and follow emerging conventions. Consumer technology is setting the expectations of your people; if you can’t keep pace, they’ll notice that you don’t seem to care about them.
- Pay attention to details. Every word, image, link, and form has the opportunity to inspire — or disappoint. Test early, test often, and make corrections swiftly.
- Time waits for no one. Your people are busy. Structure your intranet so that people can get in, find what they need, and get on with their work. Ensure that performance and page loads are snappy, even for remote workers.
- Stay fresh. No one likes – or trusts – stale or obsolete information. Publish news and announcements swiftly, and compress approval cycles. You can always add more details later — one of the benefits of online over print publishing. Incorporate real-time performance indicators and even e-mail alerts (via opt-in subscriptions). Everything on our intranet’s front page changes at least once a day, and people really appreciate the freshness.
- Encourage dialogue. Every news item and announcement invites reaction, thereby subjecting it to a kaleidoscope of perspectives — a reality check, if you will, as determined by the court of public opinion. To enhance the dialogue, we participate, too, or invite leaders and subject-matter experts to weigh in.
- Welcome and respond to feedback. Our intranet offers a feedback form on every page, and we commit to a response within minutes. Every response — even if the feedback is critical — is appreciative, respectful, and explains how we will take any necessary action. I always take great delight when feedback offers a suggestion for a new feature, and I am able to explain in my response that the feature is now in place.
- Monitor all activity. We read every comment, review (and optimize) the most common search terms, and witness behavior across the intranet. By doing so, we can check for understanding, spot trends, and adjust accordingly.
Your people deserve an intranet they can trust. Follow these ten tips, and you’ll be well on your way to a trustworthy intranet.
Of course, another question lingers: why aren’t top leaders, direct supervisors, or co-workers trusted more? That’s an issue for another day.
[ William Amurgis ]
Photo credit: Timo Kirkkala
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How to make your intranet worthy of trust: http://kilobox.net/2758 by @WAmurgis, via @Wedge
William Amurgis is the former director of internal communications at a Fortune 200 company in the United States, where his team won multiple international awards for its corporate intranet. While exploring other career options, he is currently available to provide informal consulting for your intranet. He lives in Columbus, Ohio, with his five children, five pets, and one wife. You can reach him at email@example.com, or on Twitter at @wamurgis