Your intranet is not a channel for you to vent on

Why do some managers feel it’s OK to rant on the intranet, as if it’s their personal venting channel? Had a failure? Don’t blame your audience.

A company’s intranet should be a useful tool to help people to find information to help them manage their role and do their job. It can be a gateway to many useful web applications and it can provide a two-way channel between ‘the business’ (Management) and a dispersed audience of employees.

Its primary purpose is to help everyone access the information they need, and the information the business needs them to know (or would very much like them to know).

So why do middle-managers think it’s a suitable channel to chastise their people or grumble about employee engagement?

Have you ever promoted an optional event (like a barbecue or a Christmas party) only to find that the interest was quite low and the turn-out disappointing?

Have your managers ever stuck a news item on your intranet and simply expected the majority of readers to read it, take it to heart, sign-up and turn-up?

A good Internal Communications specialist might explain that an intranet is fantastic at raising awareness about a subject, but that a single article isn’t going to have an amazing impact. A good Comms Plan includes several channels outside of the intranet and recognises that to engage recipients and influence them to act (to sign-up, to attend an event, to change their way of work etc.) requires multiple communications across multiple channels.

Tell them, show them, tell them again

If you want to have a significant impact on people’s ways of working (as in Change Comms) you need to build a comprehensive Comms Plan. This article can’t tackle what makes a good Comms Plan, but consider this:

If you want people to really know something, tell them five times and use two or three channels.

Don’t allow yourself to believe that ‘if it’s on the intranet, everyone knows’.

Don’t rant at your constituents

If you do have a low take-up of your training sessions, away day, or charity event, don’t lambaste everyone in your next intranet invitation.

The fact that you and your managers have spent dozens of hours and thousands of pounds on an event, only to have very few attendees is in no way the fault of every individual in the company. It’s your fault. You may feel disappointed, even aggrieved, but why would you choose to air your anger to the whole company in your next intranet article?

The purpose of your article is to communicate to and perhaps invite people. How can anyone think the purpose of an article is to vent the feelings of a few organisers whose event fell flat? What will people think of you and your event management skills if you publicly declare your disappointment? How will it look to employees if you blame them for not caring about your event?

I say it’s your fault for two simple reasons – you don’t know what ‘communications’ is and you didn’t ask for help from the Internal Communications department.

The Internal Communications department know how to encourage ‘readers’ to become engaged, enthusiastic ‘attendees’ and ambassadors.

You assumed that an article on the intranet would ‘engage’ people; an Internal Communications specialist could have helped you build a Comms Plan to raise awareness about your event, and then build engagement.

Please don’t share your disappointment with the world, nobody cares and the failure is yours.

  1. … and similarly, if you have an intranet, internal blogs and wikis, *don’t* stifle the discussion.

    Listen to what you’re being told. If you didn’t want to be told, why did you bother asking?

    If the message is attracting obloquy, consider both the content and the way you have presented it. Many senior – and not so senior – managers may find it hard to get used to their policies being questioned and picked over in public.

    You never know, it may even improve the policy, as in Linus’s Law codified in the Cathedral and the Bazaar.

    Hey Wedge, how come the links don’t work? For sure, no-follow, but no links?

  2. Hi Steve, nice to see you again.

    Can you tell me which links are failing please? (Wedge

    Although I’m a huge web user, I’m currently offline a lot, and so I write offline – a side effect is that I’m not doing too well at placing any links into my posts. My bad I know, but that’s a side issue. If I’ve got broken links, please let me know.

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