Break the Email Habit – Encouraging Adoption of Collaboration Tools

break the email habit

Encouraging Adoption – Pay Attention to the “People Part”

Here are some suggestions for getting your users to break the email habit and collaborate online to share files, manage tasks, and communicate better. It obviously starts with using a really intuitive and easy-to-use technology platform, but it is important to pay attention to the “people part” and actively encourage adoption and use.

Understanding Incentives

There are two ways to motivate users to collaborate online. Users will either 1) log in and access or share information because it provides a valuable service to them personally, or 2) they will log in and use it because they are expected to by someone in a position of authority.

To encourage “voluntary” use, the tool must provide valuable services to its users. If the content and functionality helps busy users access information they need or to accomplish a task – they will log in and use the tool voluntarily. In addition, recognizing users who make valuable contributions can boost their incentives to proactively participate.

In other cases where volunteerism and peer recognition is not enough, organizations must set clear expectations and guidelines for members and reinforce them often. The incentive, then, is simply the desire to do what is asked. This may be another obvious-sounding recommendation, but it also tends to be lost in the rush to do other, higher-profile activities. In some cases, responsibilities requiring a significant contribution of time should be incorporated into individuals’ job descriptions.

User types

Experience shows that there are stark differences in online behavior in participation within different user groups, and therefore it is useful to plan around these different types of users. These are outlined below.

  • Super Users – Super Users are highly active community participants that not only contribute content but also take ownership and work to promote it and make it successful. They will, for instance, help police content for appropriateness and, properly guided, informally train users on expectations and norms. They will also welcome new users and help them understand the community and its role in their work. There will likely be few Super Users, but they have enormous importance for the initiative.
  • Regulars – Regulars are more typical “good” users. They login regularly and contribute content of various kinds with some frequency. While not as active as Super Users, there are somewhat more of them and thus in aggregate they form an important active layer of the community.
  • Contributors – Many users will come to the site with some frequency, but will contribute to it only once in a while. While they do not give much to the community, they are still demonstrating a level of interest that suggests they are learning from it. Additional support and incentives may convert some to Regulars.
  • Browsers – Another large segment will visit the site periodically but never – or Rarely – contribute to it. These users represent possible Contributors but are in need of further promotion, additional incentives, and, perhaps, more training.
  • No-shows – There will be a group of potential users who never catch on to the community. Periodic efforts to convert these users would be valuable, but you should not expend great effort on them. It would, however, be valuable to discuss why these users are not active and understand if there are systematic dissatisfiers or disincentives within the community.

When an organization is ready to roll out a collaboration tool, they should prepare and send an announcement to all potential users. The announcement should be brief but should clearly articulate:

  • The goals for the organization
  • The “selling points” – the value it will provide and the incentives that will be in place
  • An overview of the services it will contain – both content and functionality
  • A summary of guidelines and expectations for use
  • A timetable for when they can expect to be able to use it
  • A schedule for training

Lead by Example

Lastly, employees are never going to adopt an online collaboration tool unless they see management using it. Let team leaders be the guinea pigs that ensure the application works as advertised and let them inspire other team members to start using it.

Don’t convert the entire organization to the new system overnight. Start out small with individual project teams to pilot test the tool. This allows the application to be tested and any problems solved. It also allows team members to dip a toe in and see that the water is fine.

Finally, offer training and technical support. Structured training eases the learning curve and the frustration of implementing a new product. Knowledgeable super users and technical support personnel can fix user problems quickly, again reducing the aggravation of adopting a new system.A well-designed implementation plan can have your new online collaboration tool, whether it is an online task management system or a knowledge management tool, operating smoothly within weeks, backed by the full support of the entire team.

How about looking for a tool to eliminate email habit?

The points made above all demonstrate different aspects to how encouraging adoption of collaboration tools is important. There exist many tools/apps that can help in many of these and should be considered. Here are a few below that might set your projects on a successful path.

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