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I was just on LinkedIn, briefly browsing the inevitable list of suggested new connections that appear on the site. You know the screen. A bunch of boxes with friendly faces of people, most of whom you’ve never actually met or seen before. Those who use LinkedIn are often either those looking for job opportunities, or those offering the opportunities and are looking for the right candidate. If you are the one in the latter position, perhaps you’re a manager looking to build your team, and you need someone for inside sales as an example, you can learn more about who to hire, why, and what to look for during the hiring process to make sure you have the best chance of getting the right person for the job. This switch into the online world is a further sign of the progression of business-oriented tasks being power by a technologically driven mindset.

I ran across a fellow whose title is “Intranet and Collaboration Projects Manager”.

I paused. I looked at that for a moment and then realized why the job title struck me so. Just a few years ago that title would have been just “Intranet Manager” but in today’s modern world the job titles need to be more specific to the job role.

“Collaboration” now central to intranet scope

The “collaboration” piece has been added to many people’s job descriptions over the last few years. Do you remember before intranets included collaboration? And enterprise social networking? And social business? And ideation? Do you remember when managing the intranet was about managing just centralized reference content and news? When only a small handful of people could publish to the intranet?

But today “collaboration” is becoming an almost universal piece of the intranet puzzle. If it’s not a piece of your intranet puzzle, you should probably be worried.

Collaboration is strategic, not just an IT issue

It’s not just that the features and scope of intranets have evolved. Another important change is occurring: collaboration team sites, such as those in SharePoint, are moving from the sole control of the IT department to become part of a larger scope now being managed by people in Internal Communications and HR.

Now the job of supporting collaboration amongst teams is being rolled into a larger effort. This effort aims to enable collaboration, open communication, connections and social networking across the entire company. And it also aims to integrate these activities with the central intranet platform.

Not only is this new scope of intranet management greatly increased, but the collaboration aspects now fall under the strategic banners of innovation and employee engagement, not just IT.

Has your intranet job description kept up?

Business card for the social intranet eraBack in 2011 IBF released a research report on the structure and management of intranet teams, which touched upon this new set of intranet-related responsibilities. Recently the Intranetizen team published a very popular blog post about job titles for people who work on intranets.

And last year’s creation of the new Digital Workplace Forum is a major nod to this growing scope of digital tools, and the need to chart and measure this new environment.

Bottom line: The intranet world is evolving. The role of the intranet manager is evolving. But are you evolving? Is your company evolving? Has your intranet-related job title evolved over the past few years? If not, should it?

How to update your job description for the social intranet era

In case you’re trying to understand the new scope of work for the “intranet and collaboration projects manager”, below are a few tips for re-writing your job description.

Three real-world examples of modern intranet job descriptions

Change #1 – Job title

Include the words “collaboration” or “social business” or “digital workplace” or “enterprise collaboration” or “community” in your new job title. Some of these job titles might do the trick:

  • Intranet and Collaboration Projects Manager
  • Enterprise Collaboration Strategist
  • Enterprise Community Manager
  • Manager, Digital Workplace Program
  • Director, Internal Communications & Social Business.

Change #2 – Job responsibilities

Try including lines like these in the scope of your new job description:

  • Research & understand impacts of new social, digital tools on leadership and innovation
  • Oversee stakeholder governance for social and collaboration platforms
  • Create business strategies for driving cultural change towards stronger collaboration
  • Advise executives on best practices for nurturing online employee collaboration
  • Lead strategy for integrating enterprise social tools with core business platforms
  • Program management, content and execution for enterprise social software implementations
  • Project planning and strategy for enterprise social software
  • Facilitate migration of content to new collaborative platforms
  • Evangelize strategic use of collaboration tools across the enterprise
  • Nurture enterprise adoption of internal collaboration tools and habits
  • Support adoption and strategic use of enterprise communities
  • Reengineer business processes for improved flow within enterprise social software
  • Capture and analyse actionable data about adoption and use of enterprise social software
  • Guide teams in use of virtual tools for improved project collaboration
  • Provide training to power users, community managers and executives for collaboration platforms
  • Administer system settings for enterprise collaboration platforms.

Of course, you can’t just list these things as catch phrases. You’ve got to actually be good at them.

Change #3 – Job goals

Finally, if you include strategic goals such as these in your job description, your new job may resonate strongly with executives:

  • Replace targeted mass emails with interactive news on the social intranet
  • Replace some use of team-based email with more targeted and open, opt-in communications online
  • Build targeted use of online communities around core business goals
  • Improve employee engagement through adoption of employee-centered online communities
  • Integrate collaboration platform with the intranet to improve employee ease of use
  • Establish a strong governance framework of managing user-generated content
  • Implement processes for managing the lifecycle of user-generated content
  • Create processes for structured employee involvement in solving critical business problems
  • Improve cross-departmental problem solving around core business challenges.

These are just ideas. The goals are very broad. Your new job description should tie into specific business goals at your company and include clear metrics.

But the point is clear: the role of the “intranet manager” has evolved and you need to make sure your job description has too.

To keep up with related intranet trends and strategies, sign up for the IBF Newsletter.

About the author

Ephraim Freed, Communications Manager for the Digital Workplace Group (DWG)Ephraim Freed is a communicator and self-proclaimed “intranet nerd”.

Ephraim works at Riot Games now, but previously worked at DWG overseeing marketing, facilitating in-person & online member events and hosting our monthly webinar, Digital Workplace Live.

Prior to that, as a writer and professional services consultant for social intranet software company, ThoughtFarmer and managed internal communications and launched a social intranet at Oxfam America.

In his spare time Ephraim raises his two baby girls, goes trail running and plays many sports with great mediocrity.

4 Comments

  1. Hi Ephraim,

    We’re definitely seeing a shift towards what we’ve called “Intranet plus”, eg “intranet plus collaboration”, “intranet plus document management”, “intranet plus mobile”, etc.

    Which at a basic level makes perfect sense: organisations are recognising that more needs to be done, but who to own it? “Let’s include it with the intranet”. This also a technology-lead phenomena, with vendors selling a bigger vision that they were just a few years ago…

    But I’m hesitant about your proposed approach of rewriting job titles, for a few reasons:

    * Job titles are normally determined by a staff member’s manager, perhaps in conjunction with HR. Perhaps we should be discussing “how to discuss your job title with your manager”?

    * Similarly, job goals are formally managed in many organisations, particularly where there is a mature performance appraisal process. So I don’t think people can just change their responsibilities one morning!

    More broadly, I think it’s also coming at things from the wrong end. This post presumes that by changing a job title and description, responsibility, resources and support naturally flows.

    As I posted on the Digital Workplace LinkedIn group, we should look at the process being:

    1. Managers (in intranet teams, etc) need to demonstrate their value, by delivering good solutions.

    2. Organisations will then tend to reward success with greater scope, responsibilities and resources.

    3. At some point, the original job title may be too “small”, and is thus rewritten to something that a) reflects the new job role and b) matches the structure/nature of the organisation.

    Knowledge managers learnt the hard way that just being given a job title is not necessarily a benefit.

    It’s up to practitioners to do great stuff in organisations, and therefore forge a new role… with whatever title that ends up including.

  2. Ephraim Freed

    Thanks for sharing these thoughtful points James. Without even a hint of sarcasm I’ll say that I think we’re both right.

    While you’re spot on that managers are responsible for changing their subordinates’ job titles and job descriptions, I often see this being done through a conversation with the employee in question.

    Often an employee is either handed a broader scope of work or has been a passionate advocate for improving collaboration and digital working. In either case, though especially the latter, employees end up working with their managers to clearly identify all the responsibilities and goals of a job. In many strong performance cultures this process is very much a two-way street.

    Even in a very formalized performance system, a job with new responsibilities that haven’t previously been included in job descriptions needs to be fleshed out through consultation amongst the manager, the employee and HR.

    I actually had a moment years ago when a consultant to the organization asked what I wanted to do next. I started talking about “social intranet this and open knowledge sharing that” and then the consultant suggested “why don’t you write out the job description and pitch it to your managers.” I ended up doing just that and within a year was in that new job. I articulated a need that my managers were able to see clearly and find resources for.

    Part of the reason I wrote this post is because passionate, inspired, forward-thinking intranet managers out there may need to advocate for themselves a little. They need to be clear about the broader scope of their work, whether it’s been heaved upon them or they’ve led the charge.

    I think you and I are really saying about the same thing.

    So, when are you writing the companion piece to this one about “How to discuss your intranet job title with your manager?”

  3. Yes, we will add “How to discuss your intranet job title” to our article list 🙂

    I agree that it’s important for intranet folk to look more broadly than just being “custodians” for the site as it currently stands. This traps teams in a low-value maintenance mode.

    Some while back we suggested a 40/30/30 split of intranet team’s time:

    http://www.steptwo.com.au/papers/cmb_intranetteamtime/index.html

    I still think, however, the starting point is focusing on delivering value to the organisation, and building up the team’s (and manager’s) reputation within the organisation.

    Only then should teams take on extra responsibility. Otherwise, there’s the danger of volunteering to deliver the impossible, setting up teams for failure…

    This is the “upwards spiral” that I’ve talked about for a long time now:

    http://www.steptwo.com.au/papers/cmb_upwardsspiral/index.html

    Cheers, James

  4. Good points Ephraim and James – this combination of working up from the foundations (show intranet value, widening job scope etc.) and pioneering the intranet/ intranet team/ and intranet manager role works well for me. I’ve had the experience of pitching a new job title at a major organization (helped by it being post a big restructure so lots of flux around organizational hierarchies and groupings) and it was for a brand shiny new “Knowledge Manager” role (yes I was one of them). The opportunity partly arose through having already started to demonstrate the value of actively managing knowledge at the customer service frontline – the title helped in the acknowledgement of this being important to the organization. And there was still lots of hard work to be done to keep on proving its value.

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