Why Won’t People Communicate on the Social Communication Systems we Have?

Mike Morrison looks at the challenges across businesses that Learning and Development professionals can contribute to solving, and it’s a lot more than learning.

Focusing L&D on business

During the #LDIEurope conference this week, we have had many great presentations on learning and technology. Our Chairman Shawn Storer has effectively linked the presentations to the challenges across our businesses that LnD can contribute to. And its a lot more than learning.

Business communications

For example, we have spent a fortune on employee engagement surveys. It was identified that as a business communication was an issue. It may even have been raised as an issue as part of the employee engagement survey. The solution is simple. We need people to collaborate and communicate so we will introduce a system to help.

IT use Yammer, Marketing and social media teams use Slack, and the business uses a mix of email and sharepoint. Even where these systems exist, the takeup is relatively low, and the majority of the use of each is by a handful of “super users”.

Get rid of all systems

The solution is staring everyone in the face, remove all but one, but which one, and of course, each has its champions within the business.

One way to reduce the problem before it starts is to ensure that when any system is introduced, is that it is introduced to solve a business problem first.

When people can understand the value, because it has helped them, they are more likely to use the system for other applications.

Having variety can help diversity

There is an argument that using different tools or platforms for different spaces has its advantages. Not all tools are the same, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. However, multiple systems leads to confusion. It seems the more channels an organisation has, the less any of them are used. they become niche channels for the ‘in crowds’ and not collaboration tools, linking the organisation as a whole.

In the end, many systems like Yammer, because the business lacks a clear strategy seem to be increasingly used for selling second-hand goods and advertising holiday lets.

My thoughts on this situation

Where we have several choices, this causes confusion in our users and as the result, because they may be unsure, the reality for them is that it’s a barrier, so they just won’t use any.

Clarity of what a system is, why to use it and often what is overlooked is the how to use it. Just because on the surface the system looks like Facebook or WhatsApp, that people use on their phones, does not address the issues of usability as identified by Morison (2019). Training to build competence and confidence should not be overlooked as unnecessary, users rates of less than 18% (GoodPractice) show that it is not only necessary but vital.

The introduction of any system needs to be on the back of solving a real business problem from the perspective of the employees, otherwise, it will become yet another channel that ‘top management’ pushes messages through, and communications become not a relationship and a two way conversation, but more noise, causing more distractions and lower productivity.

Sometimes less is more, and we need to check the basics before we introduce yet another strategy.

Mike Morrison FCIPD

Mike Morrison FCIPD

Head of internet

Mike Morrison is Founder and principal consultant at RapidBI, a consultancy that facilitates change and organisational development. A Fellow of the CIPD, ILM and several other professional bodies.

Mike has recently completed a Masters in Behavioural Decision Science.

He has worked around the world leading large scale change and ERP implementation programmes and had led development sessions in over 30 countries.

Having developed one of Europe’s largest online networks for HR and L&D professionals, he is a regular contributor to many online forums.

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