Last week I wrote about a post about how I coached a colleague to use Yammer and explain its benefits on how it could increase her productivity and engagement in the workplace.
This week the theme continued to be all about Yammer. I had many people asking me to learn more about it in particularly, how to encourage their business partners to use it. Whenever I get requests like this, my first question to them goes straight to the point and that is, “Do you use Yammer?” and invariably, the answer is no – but they’ve heard something about how good it is and want to learn more.
So the first challenge before we even promote it to your business partners is getting you to use it. After all, if you don’t use the tool yourself and role model the behaviours of social networking then how can you expect to inspire and encourage others to use it?
People can see through the pretext so it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get in with the rest of us.
That’s the jist of my response to them – not in those exact words but nicer of course.
Although I’m not directly working formally with the Yammer team who sits under our organisational marketing department, this team relies heavily on Yammer Champs to spread the Yammer message.
So what’s a Yammer Champ?
As you can probably guess, I’m one of them.
But I’m not a “RaRa” champ, I’m more laid back, calm and collected. I’m more like this. “Yeah, check out this cool feature you can use with your team. What? You don’t want to learn about it? That’s okay – in your own time, I guess. You know where I am if you need me.”
It seems now that people are finding me.
Smack bang into my busy period where I’m winding down to three days per week on this contract (which ends in June 2014) so that I can focus on making the move from “contractor” to “consultant” for my own business in…you guessed it. This stuff. (More about that in later posts).
Yammer Champs are people in the organisation who coach, show, demonstrate and influence others on the use of this enterprise social networking tool and to provide support when required. In effect, they are enthusiastic, passionate and seek out opportunities to promote the tool and its use into their own departments. I’d like to say that they are the change agents of an organisation.
I actively promote that I’m available for assistance. I volunteer to help out our senior leaders promote their key messages and coach them through the use of the tool, how to set up their notifications and profile and exploring how they can use this for their own teams. Much of this coaching also involves talking about online behaviour and allay their fears in writing in this forum.
Step 1: Tell Your Managers That They Don’t Need to Lurk
Last week, one manager said to me, “I don’t like writing replies to posts. I’ll read them but I have nothing else to add so I don’t respond.”
My answer to that was that as a manager, I’m sure that they would want to know that their message was acknowledged, that it was read and had inspired thinking, debate and conversation. How could they ask for people’s feedback without themselves willingly and openly contributing and acknowledging that conversation themselves?
I added that Yammer makes us all equal. It’s not a top-down communication or their mouthpiece, it’s not something that they can command and control like email. It’s the equivalent of rolling up their sleeves and getting in there in the thick of it. Sure, there will be vulnerabilities, there will be anxiety and fear because people may express something that they may not like to read but as a manager, wouldn’t they want to know that? Wouldn’t they want more open and authentic conversations?
“So something as simple as clicking on a ‘Like’ is enough to acknowledge your team as a peer. It’s like you are saying to them, I have read your post and whether I agree with you or not, thank you for sharing,” I added.
They nodded their head in agreement as they hadn’t thought about it this way.
Step 2: Pique their Curiosity – Start With Something That Interests Them
I prefer to do one-on-one coaching as opposed to running general classes so I can observe how the person works at their own computer; what files and programs they access, the comfort and use around the keyboard and the internet so that I could customise the session to how they would normally use it in their normal every day work. It also means that the new users are not frightened off by others who can use the tool as I’ve noticed that social networking tools create a great divide between those who ‘get it’ and those who don’t.
Those who don’t are more likely to become frustrated, feel inadequate or clam up with fear. It doesn’t make for good learning. This is something that I want to avoid so I coach them individually first to get comfortable with using the tool.
I also like to ask them questions about their experience and use of social media and networking tools and then try and link in with their own interests such as finding a Yammer group focussed on their own interests whether it’s work related or a hobby. (We have many non-work related groups such as Photography, Knitting (!); Cycling; Music and many others).
It is easier to explain Yammer by finding something of interest to them that is not related to work or a project. It piques their curiosity that there are other people within the organisation who also share their passion…and they seem to get to their own ‘A Ha’ moment quicker.
Besides, these Yammer Groups are more vibrant and active. They have a buzz about them. I always recommend that people new to Yammer join these types of groups so that they can get swept up in the wave of enthusiastic and passionate people and conversations.
After all, think back to the time you had your ‘A Ha’ moment on social media. Was it when you learned how to use the tool or was it when you realised you had something in common with someone half way around the world?
It’s not about the tool. It’s about the connections.
I want to help people make new connections so that they become engaged again.
A Word About Those Other Yammer Groups with The Ghosts of Employees Past
Unlike the active Yammer groups, there are others which remind me of walking into a dusty, empty and abandoned ghost town.
You know the types. The ones where the last response was way back in 2012 (this is a lifetime ago in the corporate world) and the Member Panel has what I call the “Ghosts of Employees Past“. Once an employee leaves the organisation, their photo is removed and replaced with just the initials of their names. Beware of these groups. Don’t encourage your new Yammer users to join these as they’d have more success talking out loudly to themselves.
I find these Yammer groups sad and haunting really. A Yammer graveyard.
You enter the group, you scratch around, you read things that happened (What? That project has reared its ugly head again?!), maybe recognise a name you used to work for or with years ago, you find nothing useful, you exit and click Unjoin.
Step 3: Go Forth and Make More Yammer Champs
So what do you do to prevent your ESN doesn’t turn into a ghost town?
The mark of a good Yammer Champ is one who knows the difference between one motivated to learn the tool for the benefit of their own workplace productivity versus one who is paying it lip service. Luckily, there haven’t been many of the latter because they’re instantly recognisable because their actions don’t match their words.
Sometimes I get the feeling that they know I know what they’re trying to do. Frankly, I’d rather spend my effort with someone who is genuine and open to learning and sharing as they end up being advocates than obstacles.
But in my experience, people genuinely want to learn more about Yammer and once they do, they’re off! Before you know it they’re joining in on conversations, answering questions, sharing links, offering advice, acknowledging others, creating their own groups and exploring more functionality and how it can be used for their own work purposes. So a Yammer champ by default, must inspire other Yammer champs so that the organisation reach a tipping point in favour of networks.
So what are you waiting for? Go forth and multiply!
Ghost Town in Amsterdam http://www.flickr.com/people/13088710@N02 Jos van Zetten
Tumbleweed Gif: http://imgur.com/CIubsq7