Chief Workplace Officers: what are they (and why do I need one?)
Having a leader that focuses on making your Workplace deployment a success can make a big difference. We teamed up with our partner Talk Social to Me to explore what a Chief Workplace Officer can do for you – and how you should appoint one.
You're ready to deploy Workplace across your organisation. The C-suite has given the green light. IT is on board. Internal communications has built a launch plan. Operations teams are eager to give frontline workers the tools to help them achieve more. And HR loves the idea of building more employee engagement.
"Launching Workplace correctly is going to take more than a couple of "how-to" guides and an invitation email"
So how do you make sure that your launch is as successful as it can be?
"Launching Workplace correctly is going to take more than a couple of "how-to" guides and an invitation email to achieve the adoption figures and business value that you're looking for", says Carrie Basham Young, CEO of Talk Social to Me.
It's going to need something else. It's going to take a Chief Workplace Officer…
Introducing the CWO
The role of Chief Workplace Officer is essential to the success of Workplace at your company. This individual looks after a cross-functional team that advocates both for your employees and the leadership during the implementation journey.
The CWO is an influential jack of all trades. They require a variety of different skills in business, technology, engagement, content and strategy.
"The CWO is the strategist behind the transformation that Workplace shepherds into your organisation"
One moment, they're talking tactics with the CEO on bridging the C-suite/employee divide. The next, they're producing content for a strategic engagement campaign.
The CWO is a leader and a doer, tasked with advocacy, training, strategy and directing the community managers who coach on the skills of working in Workplace for everyday employees.
"Ultimately, the CWO is responsible for ensuring that Workplace by Facebook is valuable for all users, and your company as a whole", Basham Young says. "They're the strategist behind the transformation that Workplace shepherds into your organisation."
Why do I need a CWO?
- Employing a full-time Chief Workplace Officer is strongly correlated with having a community strategy, and therefore achieving stronger business value
- The most successful employee communities, such as Workplace, employ a full-time community manager (typically under the supervision of a CWO)
- Teams at a Fortune 100 health and wellness company coached by Talk Social to Me (serving as interim CWOs) had a 42-per cent higher activity and engagement rate than those that were left uncoached
Your CWO is the catalyst and leader that helps drive business impact from Workplace.
Take a look at an example CWO job description from Workplace partner Talk Social to Me here.
The dos and don'ts of hiring a CWO
Don't give a junior the gig
Adding "Workplace management" onto the job description of an entry-level HR or communications associate won't work. Credibility and social capital are key as CWOs serve as the "face" of Workplace to audiences and C-suite executives.
They need to know who's who and how to navigate the organisation.
Default to a technical project manager or IT system admin
While they are a critical part of the launch and support team, the CWO role is really best suited for someone with a more business-focused background, which includes technical literacy.
Look at the overworked exec
The busy executive that's already managing your external communications strategy amongst other things isn't a good fit
Executives simply don't have the time to engage with the project over the long-term or spend hours per day "in the weeds" of the network.
DO hire from within
This person will be involved in open Workplace customer multi-company groups and other industry educational opportunities. So promoting a trusted colleague who knows your culture and norms into the role of CWO is an advantage.
Look at the high-performing manager
Someone with 5-10 years of business experience and who reports into an SVP or C-level sponsor is a great fit. This person will need the formal support of others in IT, HR and communications.
Hiring someone who is well connected and has the ear of C-level sponsors is a big bonus.
Consider the outside expert Another option is to find a seasoned enterprise social network community director/strategist ready to make a move. These pros can predict obstacles, and already have solutions for some of the challenges that you're facing.
This could save you 3-6 months of ramp-up time on your Workplace launch.
OK. So where do I find one?
If you don't have room for more headcount, bringing in a Workplace partner as an interim CWO might be the right fit for your organisation.
Workplace works with partners with CWO expertise who can embed in your organisation
Workplace works with partners that have this expertise and can embed a dedicated interim CWO inside your Workplace network, either as the main "face" of the community or as an invisible "guardian angel" to stakeholders.
These individuals can help your team learn the skills that they need to roll out Workplace successfully over the course of 3-6 months.
"It's essential to employ a CWO who will give everyone a seat at the table"
Whichever approach you use to fill this new role, it's essential to employ a CWO who will give everyone – IT, communications and HR – a seat at the table.
Neutral partnerships create the best outcomes, and they're pivotal to starting the journey of working "better, together".
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