CEO insight: How Taronga Conservation Society is using Workplace to nurture better communication

by Adam Bowden

We meet Taronga Conservation Society Australia to see how using Workplace is increasing visibility across the organization from the frontline to the head office.

Cameron Kerr, Executive Director, and Chief Executive at Taronga says that a recent staff survey proved to be the catalyst for a major review of the tools and technologies that people were using.

The number one on everyone’s priority list? To improve the visibility of communication across the organization and get everyone engaged and working towards the same priorities and objectives.

The 2-way communication problem

“Everyone’s familiar with email,” says Cameron, “and the verbal speeches that leadership give from time to time. But it’s very stilted and it’s usually formal.”

And the results from the recent survey backed this idea up. These methods of communicating were failing to reach everyone – and they weren’t always connecting or engaging with people.

“People didn’t really have a sense of what was important to management or what they were thinking. And the management team wanted to know what everyone else is doing. There wasn’t a way to make dialogue 2-way.”

The decision to deploy Workplace enabled Taronga Zoo to change this almost overnight.

The ‘leveler’

Workplace now acts as a ‘leveler’. Cameron explains, “It allows anyone in the organization to communicate in a similar way with a similar level of access. Workplace gives us a truly better understanding of what’s happening across the organization.”

Workplace gives us a truly better understanding of what’s happening across the organization

And the familiarity of the tools like Workplace Groups and News Feed means the Taronga team were up to speed with very little or no training.

It’s led to impressive adoption rates as high as 84% in just 4 months.

Sharing stories, building culture

The ability to facilitate the sharing of stories in an organization like a zoo is also particularly important. At Taronga, part of the ‘Workplace effect’ was to fundamentally change the approach to spreading positive news throughout the organization.

“Zoo’s have all sorts of delightful stories. They NEED to be shared,” says Cameron. “Sharing these stories is very powerful for culture.”

And using mobile-first Workplace tools to share images – or using Live Video to broadcast to relevant groups, they can now do it more effectively than ever before.

The centerpiece of a digital strategy

It’s still early days at Taronga Zoo, but the signs on the ground are encouraging. There’s also positive signal at a strategic level.

Workplace is a fundamental part of the plan to move forward digitally

“We’ve invested a huge amount in our IT and digital strategy over 18 months and it’s an ongoing plan. Workplace is a fundamental part of that plan to move forward digitally.”

And we think that’s a story worth sharing with everyone.

With huge thanks to Cameron Kerr at Taronga Conservation Society Australia.

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