5 Mistakes to AVOID when Implementing Internal Collaboration Tool

Pitfalls of An Employee Collaboration Tool

The workplace is evolving to embrace social media.  A recent study of U.S. based employers by Gagen MacDonald revealed that companies are leveraging internal social media (ISM) to communicate and drive business. Employees reported:

  • 58% would prefer to work at a company that uses ISM
  • 86% would refer others for employment
  • 61% feel it is easier to collaborate
  • 60% are likely to feel their company is innovative

Building and sustaining a collaborative, connected environment, requires behavioral changes, as well as technology updates.  It’s a paradigm shift from a “command and control” to an “open and transparent” environment. It’s a culture where employees are incentivized for sharing information as well as individual contributions.  Information is shared horizontally instead of vertically and the wisdom of the organization resolves issues and produces solutions!

Companies realize that they need to provide tools that support internal collaboration and connect people across functions.  Interdepartmental engagement on ideas and projects leverages the power of the company and produces financial growth.

  •  Sound simple?  NOT!  Here are a few mistakes to avoid-Lack of executive sponsorship.  Managers on multiple levels need to be involved for the transition to be successful, but the change needs to be championed by a senior executive(s).

The Tipping Point and the Impact of Reverse Mentoring Program & Topics

  • Lack of Executive Sponsorship.  At The Hartford, we had a ground swell of support of social media, but struggled to hit the “tipping point.” In response, we launched a Reverse Mentor program.  In pairing our tech savvy, younger career professionals with senior executives, we were able to cross-pollinate skills.  Using internal social media and emerging technologies, combined with seasoned business experience, The Hartford gained a much needed boost in brand development.  We piloted the program with our senior executive leadership team (CEO, CFO, Chief Risk Officer, etc.) and were able to quickly establish the value of these tools AND garnered multiple executive champions.
  • Absence of Change Management.  The biggest impediment to adopting social media is systemic resistance to sharing information and change. Implementing the technology without thinking through the shift in culture will result in frustration and numerous false starts.  It’s imperative to create the awareness and desire to change and then promote/reinforce it through multiple channels.
  • Gaps in policies. Review your Electronic Communications, Social Media and other related policies to ensure that the rules and guidelines on the use of internal and external social media are clearly defined.  Our guiding principles:  Be professional use common sense, and be respectful of others. (Check out this series on social media workplace policies)
  • Lack of business objectives.  Define business objectives and engage highly connected groups that can socialize your platform and deliver quick, visible wins.
  •  Directing vs. listening. Collaboration is fluid, and you need to seek continuous feedback and be actively LISTENING!  After launching weConnect, The Hartford’s professional and social network, many of the ideas came from our users.  We incorporated their ideas, AND invited them to join our team!

Employee Collaboration Tools Drive Engagement & Inspire Your Workforce

The shift to social business includes technology AND a paradigm shift in the way you share information and connect as an organization. You’ll need to prepare for the long haul.  These concepts/tools are “sexy” but will require significant effort to build engagement and maintain momentum.

Bottom line: I encourage you to be BOLD when it comes to implementing an employee collaboration tool!  Result?  People, your workforce, customers, and colleagues will be inspired by you… and you will be inspired by their creativity and results.

PS- I am thrilled to be presenting with colleagues at the upcoming E2.0 conference in Boston on Organization & Operational Readiness.  Come join us!



Lisa Bonner is the Assistant Vice President of Contemporary Work Practices at The Hartford.  She is the proud mother of very active 14 year-old twin boys and resides in Suffield, Connecticut. Connect with her on LinkedIn.  The opinions expressed are personal and not related to The Hartford.

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Lisa Bonner

Lisa Bonner is an experienced change agent and Senior Vice President with Roberts Golden Consulting. She helps global Fortune 500 companies solve organizational issues and manage major changes to drive achievement of bold business objectives. Lisa is passionate about football, fitness, decorating and raising twin boys. Connect with Lisa.

Reader Interactions


  1. AvatarDavid Christopher (@davidchris) says

    Fantastic post Lisa.

    I have been addressing social adoption to 22,000 employees for over 3 years, and in my experience your points are spot on. Executive sponsorship and change management are key, and neither should be under-estimated the need for.

    I’ve also found that for change management you also need to introduce a social maturity model that will help teams develop their own roadmap to adoption and embed change for good. It is so easy to go back to old and inefficient habits (like too much email…)

    You also need champions in the business. I have found these an invaluable asset to creating and sustaining a socially connected enterprise.

    Again, great post and good luck with the conference in Boston.

    PS: you should join our weekly Social Workplace Twitter Chat (#SWChat) on Thursdays at 4pm EST – it’s about being social behind the firewall in the enteprise. See http://www.stopthinksocial.com/swchat-about/ for more info

    • AvatarLisa Bonner says

      Thanks for your feedback David!

      I agree- we have numerous champions within the lines of business who are critical in planting seeds for discussion, cultivating ideas and keeping the momentum going. We leverage their networks to drive engagement and business value.

      I’d like to learn more about your social maturity model. I’ll try to join your weekly call on Thursday.

      Best, Lisa

  2. AvatarAlex Kass says

    Nice article. I especially resonate with your point about the lack of business objectives. It seems like it should be obvious, but it doesn’t seem to be; too many organizations seem to be clinging to the, “if we build it, they will come”. Ultimately, social collaboration has to be about actually working together more productively, which means making meaningful changes to how work gets done. A few more thoughts on this topic at http://blogs.computerworlduk.com/si-and-tech-insights/2012/02/the-maturation-of-enterprise-social-collaboration/index.htm?sf3425435=1

    • AvatarLisa Bonner says

      I agree- online collaboration MUST drive business value! The best online teams see a lift in productivity because its “what they do” NOT “an additional site” that they go to. It’s an evolution….

      I appreciate your feedback Alex~ Lisa

  3. AvatarDeborah Fike says

    Having been a project manager for several tech firms, I can attest to how true your 5 points are. Change management can be especially tricky if people are used to doing things “a certain way.” Your tool must have good value and great benefits right from the beginning, and you have to show those good qualities right away to your team.

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