huskies pulling a sled in the snow
PHOTO: James Padolsey

High levels of SharePoint and Office 365 adoption have been linked to benefits such as optimal automation, collaboration and productivity. So if you've deployed these platforms within your organization, it behooves you, as an executive, to get personally involved in the adoption campaigns.

Everyone has to play a role to achieve sustainable SharePoint and Office 365 adoption — but it starts with the leadership. At every stage of the initiative, an executive can help. Below are some tips to get started. 

Hands-Off Doesn't Help

It is vital people get the help they need to break old working habits and adopting new ones. Commonly, executives are content to delegate the task to the IT department. That's not helpful.

Results suffer even more if the IT team presumes their only responsibility is to build, deploy and maintain digital solutions.

And if you leave it up to the end-users, your chances of successful platform adoption decreases even more.

Related Article: How SharePoint Task Lists Can Help Break the Sticky Note Habit

Put Executives' Influence to Work

Executives can put their influence to work in several ways: creativity and the particulars of their corporate culture determine the makeup and scope of these strategies. But, in general, certain steps have proven to work well. They can be grouped based on the most common responsibilities of leadership: clearing the way, showing the way and enlivening the way.

Clear the Way

The role of executives is to make things easier and faster. Start by removing every possible roadblock. Engage with the IT team to create access and governance policies that are friendly to adoption. Use your influence to help make using SharePoint and Office 365 a pleasant experience. Moreover, schedule regular times during which you personally get feedback from end-users and work toward improvements.

Aim to dissolve any friction you may find. Clearing the way is a step on which the efficacy of all other steps depends.

Related Article: Create SharePoint Governance Policies That Don't Block Adoption

Show the Way

Lead by example: be an exemplary user. Inspire. It is always easier to do what you have seen done.

Use SharePoint and Office 365 for all your daily tasks wherever applicable. One additional step: document and share every successful experience you have with every feature of the platforms on a weekly basis. Explain in detail the feature used and the results obtained. If you find time, run some experiments and talk about them as well.

Think of this as sharing mini internal case studies, which can give end-users even more examples to follow. The secondary effects of this strategy are the continued conversation about the platforms' capabilities and the emergence of a solutions discovery culture.

If you show the way, many will follow.

Enliven the Way

Leadership should always be ready with convincing answers to the key question: “what’s in it for me?” Personally demonstrate to the end-users the individual and business benefits of using SharePoint and Office 365. It is important that you, as a leader, do it, or at least participate in the efforts. The point is to use the power of your executive influence.

Using live demos and case studies, explain how the platforms provide solutions to the problems the company and end-users face. And remember to schedule live sessions or broadcast opportunities where you can repeat those messages in a reminder format. Repetition enhances communication.

Pursuing these better options is a motivator, but early gratification motivates even more. Reward people for any substantial tasks they complete during the adoption campaigns. This simple gesture from the leadership has a great effect on the sweetening of the journey.

Seek expert help to design and launch an engaging reward program. Find a way to put your face and personal touch on every reward you hand out. To ensure sustainable results, give reoccurring and diverse sets of rewards. Put in effort to personalize each item. Food, prizes, badges and gift certificates are some of the ideas that have worked for many companies.

Using analytics capabilities native in contextual help systems, quantify every end-user's activities and hand out rewards according to their different levels of completion. With creative ideas and personal involvement, as a leader, you can give end-users attractive reasons to complete tasks conducive to the platform's adoption.

Related Article: Office 365 Tools: Where to Begin

Lead the Way to SharePoint and Office 365 Adoption

When executives get involved and influence end-users, adoption results can dramatically improve. Tailor these steps to the particularities of your specific corporate culture, but the core idea remains: leadership involvement is a requirement. 

Clear the way, show the way and enliven the way — and the use of the platforms will increase organically. And from this organic growth an efficient digital workplace will emerge.