Encouraging Hesitant Enterprise Q&A Participants

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Plenty of times, a company’s hard-earned process information and internal know-how goes un-captured simply because the organization hasn’t put any measures in place to uncover and catalog this important data.

However, even companies that have invested in tools like Enterprise Q&A systems to manage their internal information can sometimes fall victim to low participation rates due to hesitant users. In these cases, all of the necessary tools are in place to facilitate the collection of important information it’s just up to you to help employees get over the following fears and participate fully in your new system.

The fear of looking incompetent

When you were a child growing up, did you ever feel afraid to raise your hand in class, out of concern that the other students would mock you for giving an incorrect answer to a question? If you can honestly answer “No” to this question, count yourself as lucky. Nearly everybody else in the world can relate to the concern of looking silly or incompetent in front of their peers.

Some of your employees may feel this same sensation upon being encouraged to participate in an Enterprise Q&A system. But since the end result – an altogether avoidance of your program – is detrimental to your organization’s continuity and overall success, it’s crucial that you foster an environment in which all employees feel comfortable contributing.

There are two things you can do to minimize this fear:

  1. Moderate the responses shared within your company’s Knowledge Base carefully in order to quickly eliminate any negative posts. While it should be okay for employees to provide gentle corrections and feedback, needlessly antagonistic responses must be shut down to create a more welcoming, receptive atmosphere.
  2. Encourage employees to contribute responses based on their own personal areas of expertise. When employees focus their commenting energy on the subjects they know better than anybody else in your organization, they’ll be less likely to contribute the incorrect answers that could get them called out in this public forum.

The fear of internal competition

At the same time, be aware that internal competition can be a major driving force in determining how willing employees are to divulge their carefully accumulated knowledge.

As an example, consider an organization in which sales people are encouraged to compete against one another for new customers and new accounts. At the same time, you invite these same employees to share their best tactics for prospecting new clients in your company’s Knowledge Base, in order to facilitate the training of future employees.

Clearly, the sales people in this example won’t be motivated to share their best lead generation techniques, as doing so would put them at a distinct disadvantage against their peers!

Obviously, the best way to handle this situation would be to minimize internal competition in the first place. Instead of driving employees to perform at peak levels, these types of rivalries generally only lead to lower morale and lower productivity. Once these barriers are out of the way, you might be surprised by how quickly participation rates within your Enterprise Q&A system improve.

But even if you aren’t able to eliminate employee competition entirely, you can still use a system like Quandora to gather some useful information by encouraging workers to contribute answers to less-sensitive questions. While this may not be an ideal situation, it may be the only one that works in some cases.

The fear of social software programs

Finally, be aware that levels of social program comfort and adoption amongst employees are often extremely uneven. The age, cultural backgrounds or socio-economic statuses of your workforce play a huge role in their past exposures to computers and computer-based programs. As a result, it’s entirely possible that you’re asking both a young worker who’s grown up on computers and an older worker who’s still building a basic technological comfort level to participate equally in your social software implementation.

The solution here is thorough training. Cover each and every step in your company’s Enterprise Q&A software updating policy in as detailed a way as possible, in order to ensure that all of your employees are on the same page when it comes to program usage.  Don’t single out employees that seem to be falling behind – instead, focus on bringing your entire team up to the same level to prevent this fear of social software programs from dooming your Enterprise Q&A program launch.

 

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