We inherently understand that different teams have different collaboration and communication needs, and yet our organizations tend to treat everyone the same. Within the enterprise, the need for a “single version of the truth” for our content and conversations and other knowledge assets is as important today as it was when SharePoint was created almost 20 years ago. While it is important to deliver the features and user experience that our employees want and need, it needs to be done in a managed way — or organizations will find themselves repeating history, managing many disparate tools and data silos, and constantly fighting administrative, compliance, and governance fires. Organizations need to find a balance in their collaboration strategies.
In the latest Beezy webinar (How to Achieve Employee Success through Collaboration) I walked through several tips for collaboration success, and showed some examples of how Beezy can help organizations achieve that success. But two of the tips stand out to me as being keys to finding your balanced collaboration.
Understand Why Teams Stray
It is not uncommon to find different teams within the same business unit following different collaboration and communication paths. We all bring our different experiences to the table, and our projects and priorities may have unique requirements that require different features to “fit” their needs.
Within this era of cloud-based standalone productivity solutions, where anyone can use their credit card to sign up for an online service and immediately begin using that tool, it is easy to see how some managers and IT teams react negatively to these tools. Rather than shut down the use of an unsupported or non-compliant tool, organizations should be asking these teams and users why the existing platform does not meet their needs. It may be that the current slate of tools is woefully behind the times, and the additional features provide a baseline of capabilities that the team needs to get work done.
On the other hand, users may not be aware of the extended features of the existing platform. That is often the case with SharePoint, where users understand the basics of navigating a site and uploading documents, but fail to realize that many of the advanced features they want have gone unused inside of the platform.
Whatever the reasoning behind the decision to roll out unsupported tools, organizations need to be prepared for the unique needs of different teams or projects. Of course, this must be balanced with common sense. It is important to understand your governance, compliance, and security limitations, and then work with your employees to find the right technology that can fit within these limitations while also delivering the capabilities they need.
One of the more compelling benefits of Beezy is that we provide many of the cutting-edge productivity solutions employees want with an award-winning user experience that they love, but we deliver these capabilities within SharePoint.
Trust Your Employees
The other major factor in finding balance is recognizing that employees are better at self-monitoring than we thought. When left on their own, employees generally do the right thing. We have them sign NDA agreements, go through online and classroom training, and monitor everything they do (for the most part), and yet when we stop watching their every move — they still tend to do what they’re supposed to do.
Rather than create a police-state around collaboration, organizations need to increase the level of trust. With proper end user education, clearly articulated guidelines and standards, and some basic oversight, there are surprisingly few employee activities that break collaboration policies.
“The more controls you put on a system, the less likely people are to use that system.”
When allowed to collaborate on their own, and in the formats that fit individual and team requirements, people naturally form communities of practices. That is the primary collaboration model within Beezy — the community. An employee may be a member of the “All Hands” company community, the “Project Managers” community built around his or her role, and several project-based communities — all built on SharePoint, all with custom branding and enabled features that fit their unique business requirements, and all security-trimmed and fully integrated with SharePoint and the Microsoft Office productivity suite. Management may have oversight of each community, but employees have control over their own communities.
The community model is not perfect, but members of communities — when they feel empowered — generally do a decent job at self-policing their own members, ensuring that content and conversations remain within the established security and governance boundaries.
Finding balance within your SharePoint environment often has little to do with the technology, and more to do with how you manage your employee relationships. At Beezy, we understand that the end-to-end user experience is as much about listening to the needs of your employees and building trust with them than it is about deploying the latest technologies. This webinar (How to Achieve Employee Success through Collaboration) provides great insights into providing a more balanced and engaging platform for your employees, and also provides a snapshot into how Beezy extends and enhances the out-of-the-box SharePoint experience.
If you have not yet seen Beezy for yourself, schedule a consultation today and see what all the buzz is about!