So you have made a huge decision to adopt social business. Fantastic and you’re well on your way to achieving improvements in all areas of your business, or are you?
Training! Possibly the most important aspect after your business objectives and goals to achieve.
Social business software is technology and the adoption of social business as a way of conducting business is a much deeper issue. Whenever an organisation brings about substantial change in their operational model, training is required to ensure the right messages are articulated in the right way.
Training needs to be considered for:
- moderate use of the software chosen
- advanced use of the software chosen
- administrative use of the software chosen
- changes in work practices that will be inevitable as a result of adopting a social business methodology. This is supported by one of the leading practitioners of social business processes – Brian Solis. According to Brian social business can be described as “In this case, “social business” is a philosophy; a way of business where social technologies supported by new approaches facilitate a more open, engaged, collaborative foundation for how we work.” This really underpins my assertion that training (as part of a change management process) is as important to success as the reasons for adopting social business in the first place.
Generally speaking, the software solution vendor would normally be responsible for the initial round of training in the use of their software, however ongoing training and change management training needs to be conducted by the new management team of the community.
Often times (and this is reflective of all new solutions) there will be kick-back from some staff regarding the need for any training at all. For this reason the members of the community management team need to be chosen very carefully, making sure that enough authority is available to ensure training is undertaken by all staff members, whether formal or informal.
On the note of training type, there are no hard and fast rules. On many occasions a mix of group and one on one sessions will more than adequately cover the overall need. It does however go without saying that the training message, in terms of change needs to come from the highest possible level of authority within the organisation, so if that is the CEO then get the CEO on board as early as possible.
Within the context of change is the prickly subject of culture. Clearly for social business to be effective and successful significant change is required. Seemingly simple changes like relying less on email and channeling conversations from email to the new social business community take time, patience and an understanding of the benefit. The greater the potential impact the greater the need for training in that change to make it happen.
So on the one hand we have the traditional elements of a training plan (ie, that which is led by the vendor) and in addition we have the more subtle aspect of training under the guidance of a change management plan. The rules for each are quite different in that one deals with a process of learning a new piece of software, whilst the other deals with historically ingrained methods and work practices. Because of this I feel that the best chance of success will come if your change management training team is senior enough to ensure that change not only takes place but that it is welcomed and embraced.
Social business will change the way work gets done, there is no question about that. The opportunity exists for organisations to better utilise organisational knowledge, available skills, timeliness to solve problems and customer relationships. These are big factors in an organisations overall success or failure so spend the time to get your training right and make it a priority with the roll out of your new enterprise social network.