One of my readers came to my site by searching for “ways managers can support the intranet” on Bing, which is an intriguing subject. I’ve put some thoughts below, drawn form my experience across the years, and I hope they help that reader, as well as you.
What senior management thinks of an intranet, as well as how they use it, will influence the entire business. This means that there needs to be support, at the very least, for what the intranet will be used for and why. An intranet should absolutely support the vision, values, and objectives of a business, so senior managers should therefore lend their support to the intranet to help make this happen.
Support from all senior managers can come in two ways, what I’ll call background and foreground:
Background support is the active participation in steering committees, signing off or sharing opinion on design or content, or the encouragement of department heads to contribute.
Foreground support would then be writing/publishing blogs, appearing in videos, participating in social posts, or encouraging others to use the site.
Both are equally important and show wholistic support for the site.
Line Managers in the User Population
In most businesses there are several levels of management, some of which don’t have any ownership of creating/publishing “official” content (i.e. excluding social content) but manage a large user-base. They therefore need to be both users and advocates, which the intranet and its content should support. In fact, they are probably the most important user group to cater for correctly. Their influence over the biggest user base cannot be underestimated, so their experience should be top-notch. They can then support the intranet in two key ways.
In a similar way to senior managers, they should support the use of the intranet by their teams. Social tools, for example, can be incredibly valuable to the individuals as well as the business, so shouldn’t be seen as a time wasting exercise. There’s a balance that needs to be met with the amount of time spent on the intranet and, like any business tool, this balance will be found by weighing the value that’s gained as a result.
This group are also very well placed to facilitate the gathering of feedback. They can provide their own feedback and they can also encourage other users to provide theirs, as well as pass it on for them. By voicing what does and doesn’t work they provide the best support possible for an intranet.
Managers of Intranet Managers/Owners
The person who is responsible for the day-to-day management of the intranet will report into IT, HR, Communications or maybe another department. The head of that department/their manager is likely to understand the principles of a good intranet (if not all the practicalities), how the business operates, and also what they would want as a user themselves.
This gives a good grounding for the support they can then give to the intranet and its manager:
- Senior manager facilitation and business steer – They are likely to be closer to senior management, so should make sure the desires of this group are communicated to the intranet manager and across the business. Likewise business plans and other business objectives should be passed to the intranet manager, so that the intranet can deliver these properly to its users.
- Budget – Achieving a budget that will allow the intranet manager to deliver what the business wants or needs is key, within reason of course – even though a blank chequebook is always nice!
- Team – Linked with budget is a team size, or at least the facilitation of getting help from across business departments, so that work can be carried out thoroughly and in proper time.
A Last Thought
Like most jobs, running an intranet isn’t simple or easy. Good intranets are like a swan on a lake: graceful and well-designed on the surface, but with the intranet manager paddling away furiously to keep it moving on the lake of the business. Plus, as with other internal communications content or channels, everyone has an opinion about the intranet and what it should do, contain, look like, work, be laid out etc. Keeping the above simple areas of support in mind will hopefully help keep the development focussed, then deliver an intranet that is appropriate and respected within businesses.