driving social learningRecently I was speaking to a local SHRM chapter about the changing world of HR through the lens of social tools. This isn’t the “you should use Facebook!” session, and I’m not sure if I even mentioned that platform a single time in the conversation. No, it was all about how both vendors and corporations are leveraging social tools to improve their learning, recruiting, and talent management initiatives.

One of the questions from the audience at the end of the session was this:

We are using a discussion board/forum as a way to increase the community aspect of our learning initiatives. However, we’re having trouble getting people to share out there. If we ask them to specifically, they usually do, but otherwise they don’t post. How can we get our people to be more engaged?

I think there are a few ways to make this platform more active, especially if it has proven to be a useful tool and isn’t just a “flavor of the month” sort of project.

  • Inertia: start some momentum by researching some of the most common questions posted in the forum and post a “frequently asked questions” section answering those specific inquiries. If you want to make it even better, you can link the specific answers to specific users, allowing people to follow up for more detail on their individual situation. Then it’s more of a two-way, social communication channel.
  • Hey, Bob, how do you feel about being an expert?¬†Expert directories are becoming a more common way of helping to assign responsibility in a social learning context. In this situation you’d tag specific people to be recognized experts with the responsibility to respond to questions in their lane. That helps to ensure questions not only get answered, but that they get a response from someone who is qualified to actually respond.
  • Performance: if all else fails, make interacting part of everyone’s performance goals. When I took distance learning classes in college, we had requirements to post one thought and respond to one other person’s post on a weekly basis. It took maybe fifteen minutes to complete, but it kept a steady stream of insightful commentary flowing through the discussion board. We were graded on our participation, and I see no reason why we couldn’t expect the same from our employees.

These aren’t the only answers, and they might not even be the best answers; however, it’s important to recognize the problem (lack of engagement in this case) and begin testing solutions to resolve the issue.

Have you run into this sort of issue in the past? How did you resolve the problem? 

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