Every time I read the news, it seems there is another organization rocked by scandal. And, like Mark Cuban, it is often a leader who may otherwise be ethical, but who is out of touch with what is really going on inside of their organization.

Mark Cuban Needs a Better SharePoint Intranet

One thing is clear: the pace of business is increasing, putting pressure on everyone in organizations. And the pressure is creating a divide between business leaders and their teams.  Organizations like Samsung, Wells Fargo, Volkswagon, Kobe Steel and now the Dallas Mavericks have all had some leaders who were well intentioned, but who were out of touch with their teams.  And the results were devastating.

Intranets are the centralized communications tool for the hyper-fast paced competitive workplaces of this century.  Here are ways that they might have minimized these scandals.

Intranets are for Listening

Most organizations already use SharePoint or some other intranet solution.  But they tend to limit use to just sharing documents or, occasionally, for executives to share news in a traditional top-down style.  That approach only broadens the gap between leaders and employees.

Using SharePoint Intranet to Listen to Team for Crisis Scandal Complaints

Here are some ways that businesses are using their intranets to find scandals before they are ever brought into the public eye:

  • Ask questions: Instead of just broadcasting leadership updates, ask your teams questions.  What issues are they seeing?  How do they feel about recent changes?  Is the company staying true to its defined values?  And, when they respond, engage with them to dig deeper.  Let them know that you are listening.  Modern intranets include social tools that make dialog easy.
  • Monitor and participate: Leaders also need to be a part of the conversations going on around the business.  Monitor what is being said, comment occasionally.  Let the team know that you’re not locked up in your ivory tower – but that you’re actively engaged with them.
  • Make it safe and easy to be a whistleblower: The risk of speaking truth to power is too much for most people.  Your job as a leader is to make it safe and easy for team members to step forward with information.  And your intranet can play a role in that by creating a safe place to report what they are experiencing (and also providing other easy options for those who may not be comfortable using the intranet for this purpose). 
  • Analyze sentiment and engagement: Your intranet is full of buzz. The documents saved, messages posted, emails sent – they all contain hints at the current state of mind of the company. Most companies only track sentiment every year-or-two using employee satisfaction reporting. But with your intranet, you can see sentiment in real time, and answer questions like: Is sentiment trending upward or downward? Is one department becoming less connected to other departments? Are there specific terms being used more frequently that might be a red flag?  This kind of social business intelligence analysis must always be anonymous, but it can give you insights that can then be used to ask questions and dig deeper.

Transparently Communicate the Plan

Use intranet to communicate crisis plan

Using the above tools won’t eliminate scandals – but it will identify them much earlier.  Once an issue is identified, your intranet can then become a part of the answer.  Use it to share a plan with your team that helps you to handle the situation well, and turn the ship quickly.  In many of the scandals I shared earlier, companies didn’t move quickly enough and the mixed messages the public received only deepened the scandal.

When you broadcast a plan, close the loop by continuing to listen. Inviting dialog not only helps to heal what has been broken, it also sends a cultural message that your organization will be one that respects its people – employees and customers.

Put it Into Action

How can an organization take the lessons of these scandals and put them into action?  No matter where you are, 3 steps apply.

  • (Re)start an Intranet Project: If you don’t have an intranet solution, such as SharePoint, make it a priority to get one. If you do, but you’re not using it in the ways described in this article, then re-think and then re-launch the project.
  • Educate and Inspire the Team: The language of the workplace is changing – it is being rebuilt with digital tools.  In today’s world, sending email is like painting pictures on cave walls.  Organizations must embrace and adopt these tools to be equipped for the future. Make sure your team has adopted your intranet and sees it as an important path to the future.
  • Lead the Leaders: Leaders in most organizations aren’t familiar with digital workplace tools. The learning curve is uncomfortable, but the gaps in their skills are holding the entire organization back. Get your leaders a digital communications coach to put together a plan and to help them make the change in incremental steps.


If you are in a fast-paced, large, or geographically distributed workforce situation, your organization is more at risk of a scandal than most.  Use your intranet to create a better workplace, and mitigate the risk of scandal.

Want help (re)starting your intranet, getting adoption or leading your leaders?  Contact C5 Insight to talk about your intranet challenges.