Leavers and joiners – the role of the intranet
I find that many corporate intranet assume a steady state of employees, all of whom know enough about the company to work their way around an information architecture which is sometimes an unhelpful blend of departmental, business and task-based elements. The reality is that in even the best companies around 10% of the total workforce leaves each year, and in some companies it might be even higher. I have seen quite a number of intranets with good sections for people new to a company that support them in the basic tasks of knowing which forms to complete and how to book tickets and rooms. However the situation is not that simple, and the intranet has an important role to play in a number of other scenarios.
The first of these is when someone joins the company in a management role. They need different support to someone starting their career in the company, because from the outset they will need to understand the procedures for e.g. staff evaluation and be able to build networks very rapidly with people across the company working at their level in related areas. To do this they need to be able to find these people (just how good is the staff directory?) and others need to be aware of them through good profile stories on the intranet, and through blogs that they start to write. These managers also need to locate core briefing documents on areas such as business development which may date back several years. For these people search is not an effective application because they have only a limited ability to assess relevance. Some companies have a ‘library’ of these background documents on their intranet.
A second scenario is when a manager is seconded or transfers to a different department or business within the company. This is an important way in which managers can develop their careers, but moving from a senior business development role in India to a corporate strategic planning role in Frankfurt is a major cultural challenge. In these situations there is usually good personal support from the HR staff, but is this mirrored on the intranet?
The third scenario is when an experienced member of staff, not necessarily in a senior position, leaves the company, either through retirement or through wishing to develop their career in another company. These people will no doubt have both written a range of important documents and also have accumulated knowledge and wisdom about the company and its products and services. From the moment that they have informed the company of their impending departure the intranet team should work with them to identify documents that need to be transferred to someone else for stewardship, or perhaps even archived. That is the easy task, and far more difficult is capturing the knowledge that they have about the company. In my own consulting work that is where I call on Sparknow with their array of story-telling techniques.
The more quickly someone comes up to speed with the information and people resources of their new company or new position the greater will be the benefit to the person and to the company. Intranet managers need to work closely with HR, training and management development professionals to build a specific strategy. A very good place to start is an excellent report from Deloitte Consulting entitled Connecting People to What Matters.