Be more dog and other first time Intranet Manager tips

When we discuss roles and responsibilities with customers and talk about the Intranet Manager role, it can often create concern in companies that don’t have someone dedicated in that role.

Depending on the size of your company and the scope of the intranet, it may not be necessary to add a full time employee to your workforce in the shape of an Intranet Manager and indeed many of our new customers do not have budget or scope for this role.

It therefore becomes a responsibility that is absorbed by HR, IT or Internal communications (indeed my own background is as an Internal Communications Manager who took on launching an intranet).

Sound familiar?

I’m often asked “what are your top tips for people taking on the Intranet Manager role” and whilst the answers can vary organisation to organisation there are some principles that are constant. So I thought I would share these with you!

Tip 1 – Keep the user at the forefront of everything you do

Whatever you decide with regard to your intranet, ask yourself “Is this meeting users’ needs” ? If your answer is “I don’t know” or “No” then it should be further examined until your answer is “yes”.

If you don’t know what your users’ needs are then your first task is to find out!

Too many times we see decisions about the intranet being made to appease the boss(es); whether that be an insistence on a particular piece of content or structure of the content without any thought to whether a user will a) find it useful or useable or b) understand what it is there for. What a waste of time and effort. Intranet Managers shouldn’t be working in isolation and an intranet definitely shouldn’t be what they like. Intranet Managers should be providing an Intranet that is balanced in its approach and incorporates features and functionality that users have identified as being useful.

Everything you do should be user-centric. So consult, consult and consult again. And bring data to the bosses!

Tip 2 – Be more dog (and a little bit duck)

Ok so I’ve stolen the catchphrase of a well-known mobile phone operator’s current marketing campaign but being:

  • Enthusiastic
  • Passionate
  • Eager to please
  • Not willing to let go (of your bone)
  • Inquisitive

These are all traits you need to embody to be a good Intranet Manager. Enthusiasm and passion are infectious; if you are upbeat it cannot fail to rub off on others. But you also need to be eager to please (users, not bosses – see point 1!), inquisitive (continuous improvement) and tenacious; don’t give in easily in the face of resistance.

However, you cannot take things personally. If someone criticises the intranet you cannot be sensitive about it, you must shake it off like water off a duck’s back. Intranets can be much maligned and constructively criticised (everyone’s an expert, eh?) but your job is to see all comments as opportunities to shift, change, improve and move forward.

Tip 3 – Patience is a virtue (you need)

Lucy Brown of Landcorp International is one such new Intranet Manager who extols the virtue of patience. She says:

“the old saying is true; you can take the horse to water but you can’t make them drink! It is frustrating and often infuriating when, 3 months after launch there are still users in our company who have logged into the intranet with so little frequency they can’t remember the URL or their password (blogger note, Landcorp have a cloud site with a username/password login). As the person who has sweated blood to get it up and running, it makes you wonder why you put the effort in! However, with perseverance, encouragement and patience I am confident they will start to use it and begin to consider it as an indispensable tool”.

Tip 4 – Shout, shout – let it all out

It’s so important to shout about successes. If you’ve been nurturing a project group to work with Interact Teams and it has revolutionised the way they work, get the head of the project to write a blog or news article and promote it on your homepage. Ask them to present at the board meeting and to other project heads.

Even things like reaching 100% of users with their profile complete is something to communicate and thank people for.

What about entering into some awards? There are plenty out there including Interact Intranet’s own Intranet Excellence customer awards, the Melcrum Awards and go from there. From personal experience, winning Intranet Manager of the Year at Interaction 2012 gave me a massive boost in a period when I was struggling with lots of internal issues. It gave me the confidence to say “y’know, I’m not doing too badly here” and off the back of that I entered my intranet into the Oracle Retail Week awards 2012 in the Innovation in Technology award and were shortlisted. Which given that we were only a year post launch by the time of the awards event was a pretty big achievement.

You’re doing great, so tell people!

Tip 5 – Make the leaders accountable

Chances are the idea and desire for an intranet did not come from you; it came from the leader(s) of your business. So it doesn’t follow that you should take full responsibility for the success of the intranet on your shoulders. It is their project as much as it is yours and they need to take accountability for the success or failure of the intranet.

Good governance should outline what their role is and what you need from them. For instance, if you give permissions to certain people to upload content to your intranet then they have a responsibility to review their content regularly and keep it up to date. If they don’t and won’t respond to a request from you, you need an avenue to resolve the problem. You can find out more on governance and other steps required for a successful intranet from the essential intranet strategy.