David Taylor offers guidance on putting in place a company e-mail policy
that is fair to everybody
If some IT leaders are to be believed, to succeed in e-business we have to
understand the technology, be up to date with the latest acronyms, and scatter
them around like confetti at meetings and in e-mails. That’s absolute rubbish.
The Industry Standard discovered that acronyms are not understood by half of
the people who use them, let alone those who hear them. This is preventing many
business and HR leaders from taking the lead in e-initiatives because techies
intimidate them. Don’t let them.
An HR director told me that he dare not venture into his IT department
again. On his first visit, he asked what Linux was. The explanation was
provided – however, it was done so in such a jargon-ridden, patronising,
"isn’t this all rather too obvious" way that he made a quick exit.
Outside the IT department, who needs to know, or care, what Linux is? It is
IT’s job to guide HR on the choice of technology. Organisations must focus on
what the technology does, not what the technology is.
As HR leaders, we can set simple principles for e-communications, often just
by asking the right questions at the right time, such as:
Does our organisation speak in English?
A self-defence mechanism of many IT, marketing and finance people is to
suddenly start talking like Bill and Ben. Next time someone uses a strange
word, ask politely what it means.
Are we focusing on the business issue here?
What is the specific outcome from this e-project. If people focus on the
technology, ring those warning bells. Ask people in the project team what they
are going to deliver, and don’t accept generalities such as "making sure
this company gets to grips with e-business".
Are all e-projects owned by business people, and not techies?
There is no such thing as an "IT project" – every project must be
owned on behalf of the company, and ideally not by anyone in the IT department.
By the way, progressive IT directors agree with this view.
Are e-projects clear on bottom-line benefits?
Forget the hype and promises. What is the increased revenue, or profit,
resulting from each and every e-initiative? Ask the question, "what is the
real, specific and measurable benefit this project will deliver?"
Which is more important in this project – technology or people?
If it’s people, fine, and it has to be, every time.
Every e-business project must be treated like any business project and HR
professionals can take the lead in many of them to ensure certain goals are
achieved. There is nothing unique about e-business projects. They must be
approached with the same focus as any other company project. They must be
clearly aligned with goals, and strategy, and everyone involved must know the
role they play, and the bigger picture.
HR leaders can take on a powerful role, not of ownership and power, but as
facilitators, bringing together the key people, teams and departments. That is
the route to success, and don’t let anyone stop you.
E-business, Internet technology and new sexy acronyms may be dominating our
strategy plans and thoughts for the future, however those involved will still
be judged on delivery, delivery and delivery. It is time to move above and
beyond technology, and ensure that all of our projects have people, outcomes
and plain English at their very heart. After all, if you can’t understand what is
going on, what chance your customers?