In my experience, managers are often a stumbling block for adoption of the transparent and collaborative ways of working enabled by social intranets.
Do you have the same experience?
I have tried to wrap my head around why this is so.
- I’m too busy
- It’s a waste of time
- I don’t have the time to re-learn
I have heard those arguments from many, but rarely louder or with more emphasis than from managers. Usually, we find the enthusiasts among the grass-roots or at the executive level. Well, if executives aren’t too busy, have time and have the time to re-learn, why aren’t the managers? The people between those executives and guys like me?
I have thought that they might be the busiest people in the organization, squeezed between pressure from above and demands from below. I have thought that they tend to have a higher average age than the grass root folks. But on the other hand, the executives are usually even older. Finally, it all boils down into one thing for me: Social business is not in line with their goals.
What do the goals of managers usually look like?
- They are finite an measurable
- They are usually focused on their own department
- They are often set by quarter
So what characterizes the benefits of using a social intranet?
- They are hard to measure and make tangible
- Collaboration increases efficiency of people and work groups
- But Working out Loud, transparently may benefit any employee, anywhere anytime (and rarely get tracked back to the origin)
To illustrate #2:
A team may reduce version confusion by sharing documents online instead of shuffling attachments around via email. They may communicate more efficiently etc. But how do you measure these benefits? And how do you measure the benefits of speedier onboarding from having all documents, conversations and discussions in an online community? And, by the way, that team might span several departments with several managers
To illustrate #3:
A successful proposal may be shared by a person in one country, found and re-used by someone in another country, bringing in loads of money (and saving both time in creation and benefiting from lessons learned the first time) but will the original creator get to know about it. Will her/his manager?
Executives supposedly have a focus which is both wider and more long term than the managers. Employees in general think of their professional development long term and may have a bit more wiggle room than their managers.
But, quite simply: The typical goals of managers are virtually incompatible with the benefits of social intranets.
- Measurable < – > Vague
- Department < – > Company/Individual
- This Quarter < – > Some time
So, where is the motivation to change for managers?
Until we start changing the way we set their goals, that is.