5 ways to lessen SharePoint resistance­

Editor’s note: This story is taken from Ragan’s distance-learning portal RaganTraining.com. The site contains hundreds of hours of case studies, video presentations, and interactive courses. Learn more about this session.

Are your staffers rebelling against SharePoint?

Consider the John Deere employee—let’s call him Rufus—who was frustrated trying to organize information for meetings.

The company’s SharePoint experts, among them communicator Tara Saylor Litzenberger, came up with a solution and sent him off to see whether he could run a better meeting.

Success! Rufus emailed her to say it had worked so well, everyone was asking him to show how it worked, Litzenberger says in the Ragan training video, “But SharePoint sucks! How to turn your employees’ attitudes around.”

Nobody would have listened, Litzenberger says, if she had gone around saying, “Guys, look at this cool thing SharePoint does.” But by solving a problem, she won an enthusiastic advocate.

This clip is excerpted from a Ragan Training video, “But SharePoint sucks! How to turn your employees’ attitudes around.”

When John Deere adopted SharePoint, Litzenberger’s team was given two choices: They could like it, or they could love it, she says. Lumping it was not an option.

So they were tasked with promoting the platform’s adoption across the company, known for its tractors and heavy equipment.

Being a self-described “geek,” Litzenberger knew that SharePoint would make it easier to organize meetings, comply with budgeting policies, schedule editorial content, get executives blogging, and share ideas. The challenge was to get employees on board.

If you’re running into resistance, steal a few pointers from Litzenberger.

1. Use SharePoint to solve problems.

That’s obvious, you might say. Isn’t that what everyone does? Actually, no. People in charge of adopting SharePoint tend to say: “Look at this cool software. Look at the things it can do. How are we going to use it?”

A better is the one taken with Rufus: Tackle a real business problem that SharePoint happens to solve.

In Litzenberger’s department, employees needed to track and plan the work they are doing, she says. It had to be easy to use but comprehensive, tracking everything from open purchase orders to the editorial calendar.

2. Simplify choices.

Some of the IT people at John Deere said, “Wow, SharePoint will do just about anything,” Litzenberger says. “If I were a user, I would really love to be able to customize it. Let’s not lock it down. Let’s just make it available to everybody.”

For non-geeks, unlimited choices can be intimidating. Showing a PowerPoint slide of the control panel of the Space Shuttle, she says complexity is scary for ordinary users. They don’t know where to begin.

“It turns out what people really wanted was a big, yellow circle with arrows pointing at it, saying ‘Start here,'” Litzenberger says.

3. Guide your staff.

Deere staffers pulled together all the scattered information on SharePoint and created a comprehensive guide of everything you needed to know if you owned a sub-site within SharePoint.

They also created templates. The out-of-the-box templates were both boring and empty. “And having a blank page is really intimidating to people,” Litzenberger says.

4. Remember that one good way is better than every possible way.

Sure, if you’re a whiz at SharePoint, you may know several ways to create a new document library. But people don’t need to learn every single option. They’re already overwhelmed. Chances are they’ll find one way they like and do the same thing over and over and over.

“People only need one good way to do it,” Litzenberger says.

5. Don’t over-explain.

Litzenberger came up with all kinds of logical arguments for SharePoint, and why people needed corporate guidance and governance on the platform. They told her they understood. Just let them know how to get going.

“People were comfortable when we gave them guidance and governance,” she said.

They wanted to start solving problems. 

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