Being in charge of an intranet is a great job and amazing opportunity to be on the forefront of the digital workplace revolution. Admittedly we’re a little biased, but most employees responsible for an intranet get to work with lots of different people and have high levels of autonomy. They also get satisfaction from running a channel that makes such a positive contribution to the way employees work and communicate.
Managing does have its challenges, however, particularly because there’s always a lot to do. You have to keep a large number of people happy. You have to deal with a high number of operational matters, often immediately. At the same time you may need to be looking at making longer term improvements.
In practice, many intranet managers also find themselves in a team of one. Their role may also have additional responsibilities, for example with other digital channels, internal communications or HR. Inevitably, with a heavy workload, intranet managers find themselves stretched at times. They also may find that not everybody really quite understands what they do and the pressures they face.
Don’t worry if you experience these challenges. You’re definitely not alone! Here are some tips on how to stay calm and avoid some of the stresses associated with being an intranet team of one!
Buddy up with peers
The people who best understand intranet managers are other intranet managers. If you know any peers in other organizations, consider arranging a regular meet up where you can swap best practices and experiences. It’s also a great place to let off steam!
Join a professional community or group
There are many opportunities for wider networking with other intranet professionals. A number of virtual professional intranet communities can be found, and some even also meet up face to face. These can be effective for getting to know other intranet folk, as well as for asking questions. Some larger communities are available on LinkedIn, some vendors operate their own networking groups, and there are also some paid membership organizations as well as many local groups.
Go to a conference
Intranet conferences are excellent places to meet peers and take away learnings. You’ll come back invigorated and realize that many of your challenges are also experienced by others. While there are a number of well-established conferences dedicated solely to intranets, others have a wider focus around social, collaboration and digital themes.
Find a mentor
Having a work mentor can help you overcome challenges and put issues into perspective. Mentors often have a distance from your everyday work. They may be somebody experienced, from outside your company, who comes from a different professional background (a mentor doesn’t necessarily need to know intranets.) Overall, talking to a mentor is an excellent way to get advice and a different view on your working life.
Get the support of your direct line manager
Having a supportive manager is important, especially if you have a stressful job. If you have the ear of your direct line manager, this can help resolve challenges, especially if they understand your pain points and what you do. Everyone is busy. Having a relaxed chat with your manager from time to time has great value.
Hang out with the wider intranet team
Even though you might be the sole ‘intranet manager,’ of course there are actually a lot more people who contribute to making an intranet a success. These include those responsible for individual sites, internal communications folk, IT professionals and more. It’s worth having regular get-together with this wider team, not only to have better working relationships and support smoother communications, but also to get a sense of a ‘team intranet.’
Make constant connections and work out loud
Working out loud is currently a popular way of working, which emphasizes networking and sharing your work with others. Asking for feedback in an iterative way and giving your own comments to others can be a very rewarding way of working and helps drive connections both inside and outside your organization. It also sets a great example for other users of your social intranet.
Have a good relationship with your intranet provider
Your intranet provider is there to help (we’ll do our very best!) Developing and nurturing a good relationship with the provider of your intranet software can help you in your everyday role. Your vendor will have plenty of tips and advice about what works and should be keen to help.
Don’t work too hard!
It’s easy for intranet managers to be overstretched. Remember you’re only human! Don’t work too hard and make sure you have a life outside work.
Power of the network!
Essentially, one-person intranet teams thrive by networking with the right people. These include everybody, from other intranet professionals, to site managers to mentors. Leveraging the power of your own personal network can help you keep calm when your workload is at its most intense. Ultimately this means you can get on with the important job of being an amazing intranet manager!