More than 250 million people use Microsoft Teams every month. But many don’t know the full potential of the collaboration solution, which can prompt low adoption and disengaged users.
In today’s episode of #O365 Hours, we’re joined by Office Apps & Services MVP Paul Dredge to discuss the gaps and challenges of sustaining new workplace technology (whether it’s Teams or something else).
A smart game plan isn’t just setup and a one-off training. It requires constant evaluation and frequent check-ins — as well as some cultural shifts — to help sustain meaningful habits. Watch the discussion below or read an edited version for your convenience!
Guest: Paul Dredge, Senior Technical Consultant at Hable (visit his website here)
- What do we mean by Microsoft Teams “adoption”? And what does successful adoption look like?
- How has the definition of success changed?
- When you work with clients, what are some common patterns and behaviors that you see and the biggest gaps in Teams adoption?
- Microsoft has done a great job providing resources. What else do you leverage?
- What should leaders keep in mind when trying to sustain Teams adoption?
- How can organizations leverage the internal knowledge of employees to help the whole?
What do we mean by Microsoft Teams “adoption?” And what does successful adoption look like?
Paul Dredge: I think good adoption is using the platform for what Microsoft has built it to do. So, using it for more than just meetings and chatting — actually taking advantage of the tools, resources function, and building that workday hub.
The way I see it, if you truly adopt Microsoft teams, it’s probably the first application you open on your working day, where you go to communicate internally, how you collaborate, how you find work on documentation, and how you interact with 365 and other applications.
Christian Buckley: Yeah, there’s an interesting shift in what even Microsoft was calling “adoption” in the early days of Office 365. So much of it was still around building out these solutions; they looked at adoption more in the realm of license sales.
But what happened with Microsoft and what got a lot of the leadership team to wake up is that they sell these massive enterprise agreements in which they tell all the analysts, “Hey, we did great on our sales.” And yet, three or four years come along and people are not renewing, or they’re these large enterprise agreements saying they really don’t need that many of SharePoint or of Teams or whatever the product was.
It made Microsoft understand they need to help people truly adopt and engage with the software.
How has the definition of success changed?
PD: Back in the day, it was all around licensing, how many they sold, and that was Microsoft being successful. Now, it’s about what people are actually using and whether that’s successful. I think that’s a massive change to further partners like ourselves to go out there and help.
CB: Even within a company, you might look at different business units, different regions where you have offices, and personnel and usage patterns could be different. Your analytics might show, hey, we’re seeing low adoption over here. But they might just be using it differently. So, you should be careful about applying the same view of what adoption is across all of those different entities.
It’s also being aware about what else is happening. I was working with a former client, which is a major university, and I knew firsthand that they purchased Microsoft 365 licenses for every staff member, every teacher, as well as licenses for students to use. And yet, you saw that they were using a lot of the G Suite tools and free things out there.
When you work with clients, what are some common patterns and behaviors that you see and the biggest gaps in Teams adoption?
PD: You’ll have a conversation with customers and be like, “Well, how are you using Teams?” And they’ll say, “It’s brilliant. Everyone in our organization is using it.”
OK, but the next question is what are you doing in Teams? They use it for chat and meetings. So, they’re using it as a Skype replacement, which is good in a way, but it’s not a full and good adoption of the platform.
CB: It’s a competitive landscape, and Microsoft is doing a lot of marketing to go and compete against these single solutions like Zoom. Slack does one aspect of that. And yet, Teams does a broad range of things. So much of Microsoft’s attention was over on the unified communication side, that chat and meeting capability.
PD: I mean, it’s not poor use of Teams; it’s just bad habits. What we tend to find is that yes, they’re using Teams, but they’re not using it to what it can do. People feel overwhelmed, like, “I am in so many different chat conversations and I don’t know where to find this and that.”
When you show them the capabilities of a team workspace, then that sort of blows their mind. A lot of organizations don’t even know these different capabilities exist in Teams; they live in emails and use third-party file-share and software.
CB: That’s why looking at a lot of those stats is important. It’s now part of Insights in Microsoft Viva, to look at what’s happening across the rest of the Microsoft stack to understand that, well, there might be lower usage for the out-of-the box Teams features, but then high usage of these other platforms within the stack. And then you, as an organization, need to make a decision.
Microsoft has done a great job providing resources. What else do you leverage?
PD: At Habel we use the Prosci “ADKAR” approach, which is Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement, and the circle around that adoption of it. It doesn’t matter what kind of resource you use, whether it’s built in-house by a partner or using Microsoft resources.
The key things for a successful adoption of anything, whether it’s Teams or, or whatever you’re trying to implement is building the awareness around it and desire. People in your organization must be aware of what’s in it for them. If they don’t buy into it, then they’re not going to be bothered. They’re busy; they don’t like change.
The next steps along the way for me is like clear communication, something so simple as sending out emails or Teams messages, whatever to resource you are using, and being transparent about what’s happening.
CB: I think that communication strategy is where so many organizations fall down. In my experience, they’re just not consistent. They’re great with the launch and then it just kind of trails off and people forget: Oh, do we still have that? Are we still using that?
We have a practice in our company, a weekly email that goes out with three “tasks” to go and do, and it is constantly pointing back to resource in place. Sometimes I look at the list and I’m like, “Oh yeah, I completely forgot about that. Let me go do that or add it as a task.”
No matter how well you think people know the Office suite and how engaged you think they are within Teams, you need healthy reminders, a nurturing campaign in marketing speak.
What should leaders keep in mind when trying to sustain Teams adoption?
PD: I think it’s not trying to do too much at once. It’s about small changes in how people are working that can make that big change at the end. Adoption is around habits.
For example, if you are constantly living in chatting in meetings and teams, you need to break that habit to then look at going to work in a team channel to have that conversation. I don’t need to have a 45-minute meeting; I can post a channel message and we can have a conversation back and forth in there that takes five minutes, and we can get the same results. You’re not isolated in a chat somewhere. It’s visual, working out loud within your team space.
CB: I’ve seen Microsoft people with the coffee mug that says: “That email could have been a Teams chat,” that kind of thing. I saw another that said: “That lengthy Teams chat could have been an email,” so it goes both ways.
I think the takeaway is that there’s not one way that that works. Sometimes that trickle of information of best practices can remind you about the things that you used to know. And just to constantly revise so that we don’t get into a rut or we’re relying too much on email or external communications.
I’m a huge fan of the Friday brown-bag lunch where somebody presents on a topic they’ve gone through and their experience; here’s how they’re leveraging the technology. To make that part of the culture where we’re sharing our best practices, we’re always learning. Even if two people show up, it becomes part of the knowledge base for the organization.
PD: Yeah, there’s not an ending point. Especially with Microsoft technology, you have updates often.
How can organizations leverage the internal knowledge of employees to help the whole?
CB: Find people that are willing to go above and beyond their job description to help other people adopt certain parts of the technology.
As an organization, we should go out of our way to support those individuals that are going above and beyond. It could be something as simple as giving them kudos recognition for playing that role. It could be more formally supporting that mentoring or training that they’re doing on the side and offering that out as a lunch-and-learn or as an internal webinar.
And there’s a great opportunity to set up some reward system for like, “Hey, if we leverage it, we showcase your tip, we’ll give you a $15 Amazon gift card or Starbucks gift card” or whatever it takes to build some motivation into that.
PD: An organization I know does a similar thing, but rather than rewards, they reward them with extra holiday. So, if you join the champions program, you got so many extra holiday days and then the more people you mentored throughout that program, they gave you extra.
For that person, it’s obviously it’s not costing the organization anything in a sense, but for that person to feel that value of being noticed and wanting to go and help people.