In a LinkedIn group another communications practitioner asked a question about getting employees to contribute to an internal blog. If that interests you, you might want to read my story of how an HR and Communications team got managers to own their internal blog and contribute. There are nine points for you, one of which is covered in this post. The rest will be covered in my next post on Thursday.
Maybe you’ve heard someone say, jokingly: If you build it, they will not come. I agree and I’d like to add: If you craft a communications plan, and work it, you’ll get results.
This is my story:
Several years ago, on a hot summer’s afternoon in New York, much like what we’ve been suffering through lately, the Organization Development team and I were sitting around a polished oak table in a conference room high above the steaming streets. We were enjoying our air-conditioned aerie, and the fact that the train-the-trainer program we had just delivered had gone so well. The HR organization had flown a group of high-performing business managers from all over the U.S. to the head office, so they could focus on certain managerial skills that would position our company for the future. We had then prepared those managers to train their direct reports. Now, our work was done, and it was up to Charley and Gwen, the two managers who had volunteered to go first, to start the cascade and roll the program out the following week. Others would follow later. Charley was located outside of L.A., and Gwen managed a team in Scranton, PA.
Jason, who was leading the OD team, said, “Charley and Gwen are going to learn a lot. We should host some conference calls, so the others can benefit.”
I groaned. Culturally, our managers were used to playing in their own sandboxes, in their own time zones. It wasn’t natural to communicate as a team across the enterprise. In fact, it had been an unparalleled triumph bringing the chosen few together for a train-the-trainers session. I couldn’t imagine a conference call being effective. I had this picture of my OD colleagues, me and a few crickets on a line, and the picture wasn’t pretty.
That’s when we thought of a blog. Our company had recently implemented SharePoint, and a few of us had been playing around with the web parts, including a blog web part. It was doable, but it hadn’t been tried before, so it meant our HR/Comms team heading into unknown territory.
Jason embraced the idea right away. Well, he was a business leader, who happened to be in HR, and he was focused on delivering results. He saw the blog as a way to drive new collaborative behaviors–one of the manager skills in the training program. So we kicked the concept around and decided that the blog should be for all managers who participated in the program. We also determined the blog would be run, followed and contributed to by the managers. HR and Communications would facilitate and provide support only.
We looped in Charley and Gwen and got their take on the effort. With their thumbs up, we brought in our IT colleagues to get it up and running. Then, we got more granular, planning the content process. As you might expect, Communications’ role was significant, and that’s because blogs need communications expertise to advise and support. You may have a different experience, but from what I’ve seen blogs don’t just happen. They take work and coaching over the life of the blog.
The blog launched the following week. Did we get everything right? Nope. But what we learned comes down to nine points that will help you think about your internal blog and getting people to contribute. Today is point one, and the rest will be available on Thursday.
- Established a purpose and timeline. The blog was designed to augment the manager training, and it was intended to support the training period through the end of the year. We clearly communicated the aim and life span. Right from the outset, this mitigated resistance, because program participants understood the rationale and they saw the light at the end of the tunnel.
To be continued… This post would be too long to cover everything in one post. So, visit on Thursday for the rest of the points.