12 Replies Latest reply on Apr 27, 2015 12:02 PM by Dennis Pearce

    Creating an Executive Participation Plan

    Kate Bellard

      We have VPs are who are liking and commenting on content and posting blogs, but participation from our C-Suite Executives is seldom...that is until now.


      Last week, the Corporate Communications Manager contacted me and said that a few of the C-Suite folks are looking for guidance on how to use the community, and so we have been asked to develop a communication and participation plan for Executives. Hallelujah! I've only been trying to get this to happen for the last 2 years!


      She and I will be meeting next week, so I'm trying to lay out all of my ideas and conceptualize how this will best work for our organization in terms of training executives and how to "structure" leadership blogs/corners in the community. Here are some of my thoughts:


      • Create a training tips document that includes small, medium, and large ways of participating and engaging in the community. Something similar to Executive Engagement Cheat Sheet
      • Create a Leadership Corner space
        • Feature executive discussions, blogs, polls, videos, etc and enable employees to participate in the discussion and give feedback
        • Create subspaces for C-Suite folks (approx. 5 people). For example, one subspace could be called "Scott's Space" or "Scott's Office" and it features corporate videos that he's been in, his latest blog posts, and discussions with employees.


      After we upgrade to Jive 8, a leadership stream will be created and all employees will be auto-subscribed.


      Are you doing anything else with your Executives? I'm also curious to hear thoughts on place blogs versus personal blogs versus system blogs and when executives should be using one versus the other. Place blogs and system blogs are primarily being used right now. For example, our new CIO just created an IT Forum system blog for she and her direct reports to blog about what's happening in IT. When should she post in a personal blog versus contribute to the IT Forum system blog?


      Just some things I'm thinking about - please let me know what has and has not worked for you and what you would recommend!

        • Re: Creating an Executive Participation Plan

          Thyda Nhek  and Michael Ambrozewicz have great C-level participation at DIRECTV and Shirlin Hsu and Steve Shultz have high-level participation and leadership at First American.


          I don't know if they have anything that they can share...

          • Re: Creating an Executive Participation Plan

            I'll try to remember to come back with more info, but for now, I wanted to see if you might get some helpful info from this Jive World presentation I did with the fabulous Kirsten Laaspere:


            Open Leadership: Coaching Executives on their Digital / Social Journey -

            • Re: Creating an Executive Participation Plan

              I have found that the key to executive engagement centers on learning about each individual executive and who they are outside of social - how they think, how they work, how they interact with their associates.  When you can identify the things they're already used to doing, you can translate some of those things into a social task.


              Does the executive like to visit various offices and walk around to say a personal hello to people?  Show her where to find some groups where her people are working online and encourage her to use Like and Comment to reflect the same type of virtual walk-around.


              Does the executive tend to read a ton of articles - on the train, in between meetings, at lunch, whenever?  Teach him how to post a Discussion or Blog post or even Status Update (and there's always create by email!) to share an article.  Extra points: teach them to use the @mention to pull in people (peers, directs, etc.) who might be interested or have a good opinion on the topic.



              But if you're looking for a general win, I have found that scheduled 'Jam' type sessions are usually successful. When there is a specific time frame, not only does the executive know exactly how much time he or she will be putting towards the effort, the associates on the other side of the interaction can save it as a calendar item and be more prepared for it.  You can market it as a virtual town hall or however else you want to spin it for your team, but the idea is to make the executive more accessible.  You can do an ask me anything (though usually that brings in fewer 'good' questions) or you can set a few discussion threads up so people can interact on those set topics.

                • Re: Creating an Executive Participation Plan

                  Seconding all of Kirsten's comment!


                  Some other tricks for collecting info on how they like to communicate:

                  1) Stalk them on social. (No, not in the creepy way!) Find them on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc and see how active they are, if they interact with others using social functions such as @mentioning and hashtagging, etc. This gives you a base level for your conversation/ training.

                  2) Treat the admins even better than the execs! They are the ones you'll end up training more in depth, as the exec will likely ask for their help in managing inbox notifications. And most importantly, they are the gate keepers to getting time on exec calendars.



                  When you train the execs, Kirsten is right. @mention and create by email are important topics. Also, make sure they know how to use the mobile app since that's what most of them will use to connect to the community.  Then give them a framework for what to post and when.

                  I like this framework for executive engagement:

                  • Recognize (reply to others' recognition posts with @mention to add congrats/appreciation)
                  • Celebrate (status update with @mentions)
                  • Update (letter or blog for intermittent state-of-the-company type updates or major initiative updates)
                  • Ask for Feedback (start a discussion that requests ideas from the enterprise)


                  I found my presentation slideshow! It is attached.

                    • Re: Creating an Executive Participation Plan
                      Kate Bellard

                      Do you recommend trying to train executives in addition to their admins, or focus mainly on the admins and then develop a few training tips that can be sent to executives to review when they have time? It might have been your presentation, but I've heard from others at JiveWorld not to hold training sessions with executives (unless they ask for it) and to instead focus on giving this type of training to their admins.


                      Thanks for your Executive Engagement bullet points!

                        • Re: Creating an Executive Participation Plan

                          I personally did both, because the executive asked. A good thing to remember, that I forgot to mention above, is that even executives need to know what's in it for them. Employees can tell when an executive response is overly corporate sounding and probably written by someone in PR or corp comms. We wanted to stay away from that in recognize and celebrate categories. In my opinion, it's best to present to them why they should want to be personally engaged (ex. Initiatives receive more attention when employees can engage with leadership around it), then execute it once they ask for it.


                          As far as the jam sessions go... In my case, our CEO started a discussion on his own. It just popped up in our Activity Feed, and I was like "OMG, ummmm... I need to get this promoted!" haha. So it was super popular with thousands of replies, because it was very broad; "What one would you do to improve the company." In hindsight, we could have managed response better with more specific subjects and timelines for direct engagement. That's my SOP now.

                      • Re: Creating an Executive Participation Plan
                        Kate Bellard

                        Some great advice from both of you - sounds like I have some stalking to do!


                        As an organization, we are already holding Town Halls via conference call. I'm interested in learning more about making this virtual. Does a jam and virtual town hall consist of one discussion thread, like a live chat? Also, I like the idea of setting up several discussion threads. Initially, I think our Executives would be more comfortable with these somewhat controlled conversations.

                      • Re: Creating an Executive Participation Plan

                        We did some research at The Community Roundtable called 'The Social Executive' and developed a framework to help think through how to best coach executives through the engagement process - and what their triggers were for reaching the next stage. I presented the findings at JiveWorld a couple of years ago (although I'm not sure if the session was recorded anywhere).


                        Here is the model:



                        And here is an introduction to the research and some of the research. Happy to answer any questions as well.

                        • Re: Creating an Executive Participation Plan

                          These are all really excellent tips! One thing I would say with regard to training executives is to keep it to an absolute minimum--think 5 minutes, so you're sure to keep it to 10. The more options you give them, the more overwhelming it is, and that makes it seem harder to participate. Focus only on the basic features--not what they "could" do, but what they need to know to create and respond to a post. As others have mentioned, this almost certainly includes understanding @mention and using the mobile app. Once they get a handle on the basics, then they have something to "hang" their understanding on and you can get into more advanced features.

                          All the options people gave for ways execs can participate are great. Don't forget the power of @mention to call the execs into the conversation. If your leaders are using live events or other channels to talk about the platform and their interest in participation, this can help encourage people to mention them. They can also ask a team of others to act as scouts and use @mentions to alert them to important posts. If they only have time to respond to 5-10 of these notifications in a day, that's a decent amount of participation that helps build their profiles.


                          Finally, don't forget to think through the simple fact that it will require a behavior change on their part, and this can be tricky. Are there any barriers to the change (e.g., they think they don't have enough time)? Do they have a specific time set aside to post or review messages? Can they incorporate it into some other activity, like checking email? Etc. I wrote a post about this here if you'd like to check it out.


                          As far as Executive Jams go, you might also want to check A Guide to organise an AMA on Jive.

                            • Re: Creating an Executive Participation Plan

                              Great tips, NikkiLiz and I will have to reference this when creating out exec training!

                              • Re: Creating an Executive Participation Plan
                                Dennis Pearce

                                A lot of good tips here, Nikki.  And it reminds me of a presentation I saw at a collaboration conference a long long time ago (over a decade) so I don't remember who it was but I think it was one of the big consulting companies (KPMG?).  They wanted to get their partners educated on their system so they created a "sushi menu" as they called it where the exec could basically select from a menu that said:

                                • I want to understand this feature
                                • Here's how much time I want to spend on it (15 min to 2 hrs was the range, I think)
                                • Here are the times I'm available


                                When an exec completed the request, the department dispatched someone to do some 1x1 training with them based on the requirements.  They also captured request data on the back end to discover patterns -- i.e.if certain features had a high request rate, that was an indication that they might need to offer better online help, broader training, etc.

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