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Getting the Attention of Senior Management for Collaboration

Posted by on September 12, 2012

There are situations where no matter how hard mid-level management or employees push something, upper management just remains oblivious.  Successful collaboration initiatives have support from senior level management but sometimes management needs a bit of a wake up call.  This happens more often than it should, in fact, I’ve spent the past few days at a client on-site and this was one of the topics of discussion.  There are a few things organizations can do to get the attention of managers to help move collaboration initiatives forward, here are some of them:

Employee-wide survey

Conducting surveys which help show issues around collaboration and communication have been effective for getting the attention of management.  It’s oftentimes a reason for why clients or prospects reach out to us, a survey was conducted, management saw it and wants action taken to correct the issues

Freemium version of a product

Most vendors today offer a free version of the product which lacks in a few areas such as admin or security.  However, aside from that most of the end-user functionality still exists.  In order to get the attention of management I’ve seen several companies get a large number of employees using the free version to the point where management really starts to pay attention and typically supports the initiative.  This is more common with larger organizations because if thousands of employees start to use something it becomes a challenge to all of a sudden shut it off.  Essentially what happens here is employees force management to support the initiative.  I guarantee that if you show a senior executive at your company an instance of where employees are using a collaboration platform at your company then he/she will want to find out more.  It’s a bit like social media, when you show an executive that customers are talking about the company and product online, the typical response from management tends to be something along the lines of “we need to invest in this area.”

Executive workshop 

Getting a group of senior level leaders together for a few hours to discuss opportunities and obstacles is another approach which can be quite effective, especially if you allow for some time for open discussion and debate.  Oftentimes executives don’t know what they don’t know.  Chances are many of them have never even seen a collaboration platform and thus have no idea what it can do or what the value is.  Spending even half a day discussing this, looking at some use cases, sharing examples, and exploring opportunities, can help get management on your side.

Bring in leaders from other companies to share stories

Another effective tactic I have seen is organizations who bring people from other companies to share their stories, experiences, ideas, and feedback around collaboration.  This makes it even more real for management and they have the opportunity to see and experience what other companies are doing.

Show clear uses cases to management

Oftentimes issues around management come down to education and training.  Being able to put together some solid use cases backed up by any research, and case studies on other companies also makes for some solid ammunition.  As mentioned above it’s always very helpful to show management what a collaboration platform actually looks like and what it does.

Purchase your own solution

I’ve seen this happen several times.  Mid level managers can oftentimes go out and deploy their own solutions for their teams if nobody is going to support them.  Anyone can either create a free account or purchase a small license package for their team to get them up on running on pretty much any type of collaboration platform.  This has happened at several large organizations where managers of specific departments or units are just unable to wait around for the company to make a decision to deploy something, they take matters into their own hands.  Oftentimes senior management does hear about it and hopefully start to move quicker.

This is by no means an exhaustive list but it’s some of the things that I have seen organizations have success with around getting the attention of senior level executives.