The HR edge – joker card in the intranet game

…… Part of The Basics series. First published in July 2008 ……

The HR function is the most variable and least predictable among all the key intranet players. Depending on the organisation, HR may be strategic, may manage knowledge sharing and skills building, or may simply handle administration and pay.

Today I was with 2 different organisations, one a very large global company and the other a very large French company. Both had HR departments that are leading initiatives on their intranets – but in 2 very different ways.

Case 1 – the global company – “make the tools available and let the people drive the strategy”

One HR group has started a collaboration initiative in the global intranet that no one else in the organisation has been able to do. The only problem – temporary I believe – is that they think that people want to communicate for the pleasure of communicating.

They’ve therefore made some tools available (wikis for example) but wonder why people are not yet using them. They themselves love Facebook, LinkedIn, Second Life, etc. and don’t realise that not everyone finds these tools immediately useful.

My prediction is that in 4 to 6 months, some teams and groups will have found meaningful ways to use the tools that HR has at least gotten out there.

The people will drive the strategy which will evolve based on how they use the tools.

Case 2 – the very large French organisation – “understand how they work, then give them what they need”

The second case is quite different. The company is beginning a “virtual desktop” project that is led by a person who is director of both HR and Communication.

This person is what I consider “premium HR” in that he has been in the company a long time, understands the people, is very connected himself, and wants to make the intranet “the place to do your work”.

He understands the dynamics of different types of job profiles, knows which ones have standardised processes, which ones are specific to very local environments, which ones will soon be automated and therefore looking for new opportunities, and so on.

He has exactly the knowledge and expertise that is often missing from intranet projects and intranet steering committees. Too bad there are not more like him in the intranet game.

HR more present where intranets are the “way of working”

The 2007 Global Intranet Survey showed that companies where the intranet is the way of working today have a higher proportion of HR involvement on the Steering Committees.

Today, after meeting this person, it really hits home how much difference that can make.