27 Jul Teeing Off: The Front Nine of Internal Communication
The Course of Corporate Internal Communication
Picture a large corporation. A corporation doesn’t like the game of golf. Sure- their associates, executives, and clients probably golf, but the corporation itself prefers their activity– the pursuit of progress and success– to move at the same pace I like my sports: momentum at a swift, more stimulating rate. Stepping onto the course of communication and cultural change, the corporation only sees laborious effort that they simply don’t have time for. Shifts in the way business units connect with one another take time, training, and tedious hours of attention to reforming communication habits. Mocked by overly saturated email chains, misplacement of documents, and the endless mystery of what information matters, the corporation inevitably spends hours upon hours traversing across 18,000 holes of miscommunication misery.
Topgolf: Teeing Off
Last month I attended an intranet conference hosted by Igloo Software where our company’s founder, Andy Jankowski, was the keynote speaker. Listening to the triumphs and trials of the other attendees, I was struck by the diversity of associate positions who desired one thing: prosperous internal communications within each company. One of the best stories was the inspiration for this post: Topgolf’s quest for a successful intranet and the process of acquiring executive buy-in.
I don’t golf- but if I did I would Topgolf. Imagine a wonderland of ultramodern technology, delectable cuisine, and boundless entertainment. Imagine accessing this recreational paradise 365 days a year, never worrying about trivial things such as the weather. Imagine a clubhouse where waiters bring sumptuous drinks, luxurious bars and entertainment centers engage your closest friends, and oh yeah, also consider the fact that this clubhouse is on the edge of a state-of-the-art virtual golf course.
So with a virtual field that dismisses the arduous task of walking in the hot sun, different challenges make Topgolf’s journey unique. Instead of an average 18-hole course, Topgolf has struggled through round after round of executive buy-in in order to make their intranet a functional company asset.
Communication: Starting Off With a Shank
Topgolf first implemented an intranet called “Tophub” to connect associates and to create a central location for document sharing throughout the entire company. Unlike many corporations in which HR is responsible for the implementation of a functional intranet, the Topgolf IT department was the driving force. Working with IT, the Chief Information Officer decided to spearhead a new project in creating equal and efficient communication for all. The first goal was to simply find a central spot for all communications that was: easy to use; involved minimal training; had the look and feel of social intranet; and provided mobile integration for constant updates from CEO, news feeds, and social content. Yet after adoption of “Tophub”, communication within the organization was still fragmented. No sunburns or dehydration afflicted the corporation, yet it was a struggle to move through the first half of the course.
The Trials of Tophub: Stuck in the Sand Trap
1. The launch lacked executive support or activity. A junior-level communications associate with the availability facilitated Tophub’s promotion and commencement.
2. Instead of posting information on Tophub and actively investing in the intranet, inboxes were still crowded with associate emails.
3. File organization was fragmented. Documents were uploaded in different places and rather than searching to see if a file existed, duplicates were mindlessly created.
4. While some departments invested time into shifting communication habits, others did not use the intranet at all. This only solidified the silos that separated areas of the company.
5. Communications didn’t just struggle for the corporate roles, but also between shift workers at the golfing facilities. Both part time and full time needed the same information to do their job well, but information was kept within its own faction.
6. Approximately 5,000 workers at the Topgolf sites also lacked access to desktops or had company email addresses. This led to disorganization and miscommunication, as many associates attempted to use Facebook Messenger to piecemeal their tattered internal communication.
7. With a task force of workers with varying schedules, the associates directory made an already difficult communication situation more muddled. The directory was haphazardly updated and widely considered useless.
8. Best practices for intranet adoption were not being utilized to promote company-knowledge. With new locations under construction, Topgolf was growing at such a rapid speed that it was a necessity for united information to be distributed to all members of the company.
9. Topgolf was growing frustrated. Swings at a solution weren’t practiced or patient. The lack of support from upper level corporate in both fostering and modeling a solution was trickling down to a deluge of company-wide disorganization.
The front nine was looking bleak. No one was cheering or even faking it. Executives were walking off of a green they had hardly played. Associates and associates were hitting balls blindly into a digital abyss. The systems were there, yet communication was far from par.
The reality of the situation is common: many organizations implementing an intranet undergo the exact same experience. So how did Topgolf reframe their intranet bogey into a hole in one? Keep following for Topgolf’s miraculous recovery: Driving Down the Fairway: The Back Nine of Internal Communication.