There’s no shortage of collaboration tools out there – Slack, Microsoft Teams, Cisco Spark, Atlassian’s Stride, the list goes on. But make no mistake, these tools can only do so much on their own. To get the most value out of collaboration tools, you need a high adoption rate. It’s one thing to provide the platform, but getting the masses to use it can be a huge challenge.
In this post, I’m going to delve deeper into common problems when it comes to adopting collaboration tools, and suggest some solutions.
Problem #1 = comfort zones
People tend to stick to what they know. These can be systems or methods that they find to be reliable, easy and second nature. Email is a classic example. It has been around for a long time, we know it inside out, it works, and it’s compatible across all devices and operating systems. But email, like everything else, has its flaws – unfortunately, these aren’t often enough to convince and convert the stubborn ones.
So, who are the stubborn ones? Well, I’m going to generalise here, but in my experience, it’s typically:
- The older generations.
- Those who don’t like change (or fear trying new things).
- Those who aren’t very tech savvy.
- Those who are lazy, disengaged or uninterested.
- Recognise and reward those who are active users, and sanction those who aren’t on board.
- Ensure adequate training is provided for anyone who needs it.
- Mandate a weekly email-free day (the only exception is for emails to customers). Gradually build up to two or three of these a week.
- Let others know that you respond faster on whatever collaboration platform it is that you use (place a short note about this in your internal email signature).
- When someone asks you to send them an email attachment, don’t. Let them know that it is available on (insert name of tool).
The goal here is to essentially make things harder for those who aren’t on board. You’re not doing this to be difficult, rather to force the desired behaviours from those averse to more modern ways of working. You’re being cruel to be kind, and one day these people will thank you.“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” - Neale Donald WalschClick To Tweet
Problem #2 = leadership
When company leaders are not encouraging their teams to use these tools, or they’re being hypocritical and continuing to use email themselves, this sends strong messages along the lines of:
I don’t really understand or care about this tool, so I won’t bother with it.
I’ll try to use it when I feel it’s appropriate but will stick to email for all serious business communications.
I don’t have the time to learn more about this right now.
And guess what happens? Team members feel that it’s not important enough for their leader to use and subsequently doubt or question whether they should bother themselves.
For this component to be successful, it really needs to be led from the top. And yes, by top I mean your CEO or managing director. Why? Because if you remove this layer, it all comes crashing down, and so begins the domino effect that inevitably results in the aforementioned ‘leadership’ problems.
So, with this said, here are some pointers for CEOs and MDs.
- Appoint your senior leadership team as advocates to help lead by example. When these advocates communicate the purpose and potential benefits of your chosen tool to their direct reports, they need to be clear on what’s expected from them, as well as how they will be held accountable. There needs to be measurable results and deadlines for achieving them. People must know that this is a serious mandate being driven by the most senior company leaders.
- Tell leaders to make sufficient times in their diaries to learn about and understand the tool. Being ‘too busy’ won’t fly as an excuse in just about any circumstance, bar perhaps something mission critical to the business’s operations or closing in on a multi-million dollar deal.
- In terms of weaning people off email, refer to some of the points above under comfort zone solutions.
The goal here is to convey the importance (the what, why and how) of your collaboration tool. Further, it is to get leaders to understand and buy into it so they can lead by example among their teams. Perhaps the most critical thing is getting leaders to appreciate where this sits as a business priority. Articulate strongly and clearly that this is at the top (or very near the top) of your agenda. Again, reinforce accountability. There’s no reason why improving collaboration shouldn’t be just as important as employee engagement initiatives, changes to business strategy, or any other program for that matter.
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If your collaboration platform is a ghost town, you need to know why. Find out what is holding people back from using it, and address these roadblocks to adoption. It’ll take some time to get everyone on board, but it’ll be worth it in the end.
Content marketer, blogger, author and tech geek.