A New Employee Blogs for a Good Cause

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Several weeks ago I wrote here about using blogs to communicate in your company (see Internal Blogs: Are You Willing To Be Exposed?).

We are working with a client that is putting the concept of employee blogs into action in a new way. I thought I might share the plan here and see if anyone has any insight or thoughts about how it might be more successful – or why it might fail.

My friend and fellow-consultant Scott Thomas likes to ask this question to companies, “How many orientations do you have for new employees?” Of course, the answer is usually one, but the reality is that there are actually two – one when the employee sits in the Human Resources orientation/training and one when they hit the floor and begin talking to other employees. You know the conversation, “Let me tell you what really happens here….” What if you could capture that information? What if you could have your entire team become involved in educating a new employee?

We are planning to create a new “new employee blog” on the company intranet. The blog will only be available to people internally at the company. One of the new employees in the current new-hire class has volunteered to blog about their experience as a new employee. She will keep a journal of the struggles that she faces each day. We have asked her to write about the difference between what was taught in training and what is reality in the office. She will also ask questions and seek advice as a new employee. Other employees have volunteered to comment on the blog – answering questions and giving real-time advice about how “things really work.” Their comments will be entered anonymously to ensure complete transparency and truth.

We expect the insight to be invaluable. However, there are some risks. We also expect the information to shine a spotlight on the deficiencies in the hiring and training process. We will “monitor” the comments but the client has committed to “showing the good, the bad and the ugly.” They truly want to learn from the experience.

Think of the possibilities. Think of what you could learn about your company if you were willing to do what Microsoft does and allow employees to openly blog about problems and issues. What could you learn by doing this same exercise in your company?

I promise to let you know how the experiment goes over the next several months. If you have ideas for improving the process, just hit comment and let me know.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Bob,

    I think this is a very good idea especially if you open the blog to existing employees and let them comment on the new hire’s observations. This would set up a situation where both existing and new employees could learn something about the company.

    I know of several companies that use a blog as an internal suggestions box. It has the advantage over old fashion suggestion box in that employees can comment on others suggestions. Management learns from the entire dialogue. In one company they have an award for the top suggestion of the week.

    John

  2. A blog like this makes a lot of sense, specially if it can evolve into a blogging community within the organisation, over a period of time.Employees can communicate and collaborate with others with similar skillsets and objectives and at the same time this gives them a forum to voice their views. This medium will not only provide employees a sense of belonging, but also an opportunity to showcase their achievements, while simultaneously increasing the approachability of the members at the higher level.The ease of access provided by this model definitely makes it a viable option for organisations.Several organisations have already developed such communication models-The Sun Microsystem blog system is a case in point and the site statistics are impressive-
    Total weblogs: 3453
    Total users: 3827
    Total entries: 75286
    Total comments: 72657
    The ideology behind floating the blog is aptly reflected in the fine print on the first page:
    “This space is accessible to any Sun employee to write about anything.”
    Well, employee opinions matter…don’t they…and as the 75286 entries show, it looks like…employees do have a lot to say!!!!

  3. Before you get carried away with internal blogs, wikis and other Enterprise 2.0 tools, you should step back and think about whether it will fit with your company’s culture.

    There are a number of high profile companies who use Enterprise 2.0 tools for internal communication, coordination and collaboration. Many of these are modern, high-tech companies. But for each one of these companies, there are thousands whose cultures encourages the hoarding of information, where coordination is top-down, and where collaboration takes place through formal organisational structures. In short, where the culture is not amenable to open, distributed, Enterprise 2.0 tools.

    Not all companies are amenable to using use blogs, wikis and other Enterprise 2.0 tools. Care must be taken to fit the right tools to the right organisation.

    Graham Hill
    Independent CRM Consultant
    Interim CRM Manager

  4. True, culture does matter, culture is the driver for many (if not most) decisions in a company. But, for companies that want to understand the mind of employees, there is a need to step outside the comfort zone and try new options. Many companies give lip-service to wanting better service at the frontlines. They understand the need to improve but fail to listen to the people that actually talk to the customer every day. It happens when sales people try to explain why products are not moving. It happens when customer service agents try to explain why customers are unhappy. The information is already there, we just fail to collect it in a way that can drive change.

    As part of several customer experience management projects, we have worked with companies through research to help them find out what the external customer expects, based on the service provided by the internal employee. Often the breakdown occurs when the employee does not have access to what they need to make the adjustments that customers demand. Internal blogs – actually any consistent internal communication tool or process – can have a huge impact on the customer by helping move information up the decision chain.

    Is it painful? Absolutely. Will it work in all cultures? No way. But perhaps that opens a whole new level of discussion. Which culture is more effective? Open or closed?

  5. Bob

    I hear your call to seek the advice of front-line employees about what customers want. Research suggests that front-line staff are good at identifying the basic things customers want, but are not good at identifying the details.

    They are always going to be an inferior source of insights about customers compared to asking customers themselves. Companies can use the same Web 2.0 tools to understand the jobs customers are trying to achieve and the outcomes they are looking for.

    Once companies know what jobs and outcomes customers want to achieve, they can develop a coherent service delivery system within the end-to-end customer experience. Enterprise tools may play a part, but they are just new-fangled enablers, just like on-line help and written procedues manuals were beforehand.

    Graham Hill
    Independent CRM Consultant
    Interim CRM Manager

  6. You are right; we have to be careful that we do not run toward the “shiny new technology” to solve our problems. Nothing replaces direct research with the customer. The original entry was not necessarily to seek feedback on customer issues, but the issues that a new employee faces as they work through the maze of training and orientation. Blogs are a valid tool for communication (as indicated by the readership here at CustomerThink) but I agree – they do have limits….

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