Well I guess we’ll find out soon enough….
Last week I had the pleasure of presenting to our graduates on Yammer. I was asked by the Graduate Committee to run a virtual classroom for our graduates to encourage their use of Yammer.
The committee wanted graduates to learn how to use the tool so that they had a way of engaging conversations around various activities organised throughout the year that spanned from work related, volunteer and community service and social and networking events.
Many of my interesting projects and roles in my career have been those that directly involved younger people or graduates. It may stem from a desire to coach, guide and mentor those who are new to the workforce but also delight with working with people who are enthusiastic, optimistic, intelligent and fearless. In my experience, both working with graduates in a corporate environment but also in the past, with officer cadets in the military, they’ve shown to me to have ingenuity and boldness which I find refreshing and inspiring.
So I immediately accepted the request to conduct a webinar on the use of Yammer.
Initially, I was going to demonstrate to the graduates HOW to use Yammer until I reasoned with myself that these Gen Y’s could teach ME a thing or two about the tool.
Theirs was not a fear about technology but there had to be another reason WHY they WEREN’T using it.
So I made some phone calls and met for coffee with some graduates and asked them questions. I wanted to find out what their fears and anxieties were about them being a graduate, their 3 month role rotations and the next steps:
Here’s a sample of some of the questions I asked:
- “What were your favourite role rotations and why?”
- “What have you learned about yourself being part of the graduate cohort?”
- “What areas of this company would you love to work in and why?”
- “What was your favourite project you worked on and why?”
- “How did you promote and showcase your project to the rest of the team or the organisation?”
- “What do you do outside of the company (hobbies, passions, interests, side projects)?”
- “How do you learn best?”
- “What do you wish you had more of in the graduate program or from your manager or teams?”
- “If you had your dream job and lifestyle, what would that be?”
- “What are your next steps?”
- “What are you anxious about with the next phase of the graduate program?”
- “How are you connecting and making networks across the organisation currently?”
No mention of Yammer there at all.
What struck me about these young people were was that although they were enthusiastic and loved their role rotations, like many others in the workforce, they were anxious about getting placements within the businesses they wanted. There were no guarantees.
All of them were asking the same questions:
- Will I obtain a placement in a business that I want?
- Will I need to just take on any role so that I can, over time, work to where I want to be? What if I don’t like it?
- How do I stand out from everyone else who have more knowledge and experience than I do when competing for the vacant roles?
- Will this be what I want to do for the long term?
Some didn’t mind taking on a broad variety of roles across the business units to learn how a business operates; others thought that if they didn’t get a role in the business unit they wanted they’d be gutted. Some used the graduate experience as a stepping stone to personal goals that they wanted to achieve outside the organisation.
A few were even working on interesting side projects in their own time outside work hours where they were using particular skills that weren’t utilised in workplace projects. One particular example was a graduate buying old knitting machines, cleaning , repairing and selling them, hacking their old outdated programs to recode them with her iPad to create new knitting patterns.
What I found fascinating was that they didn’t see the connection of what knowledge, skills and talents they use outside the organisation in their unstructured communities around their side projects are exactly what we need internally around ingenuity, problem solving and innovation.
If there was one group to model the social learning and knowledge sharing community within the organisation with enthusiasm and openess because for them – it’s not about the tools, it’s about the work, the learning and the networks – it would be the graduates.
So I went back to the drawing board with the design of my presentation. I changed the focus from HOW to use Yammer to WHY social collaborations and networking will be able to help graduates to promote their work and their projects.
Learning and Working Out Loud
The focus of the presentation was around the key theme of “Working Out Loud” and “Learning Out Loud”.
It was an interactive one hour webinar and many of the graduates hadn’t experienced Virtual Classroom software before (I used Webex Training Centre). I made sure that it was engaging by using polls, encouraging the use of the annotation tools, chat and video – as well as an application share of Yammer.
I used the same approach as I do when I teach people how to use Twitter for Professional Development. In effect, I place a post on the tool and encourage the network (in this case, All Company) to respond so that the participants can see the quick responses from everyone. The instant connection and responses provide a surprise to some especially when words of welcome and support are encouraging.
The one hour session included references to how working out loud and sharing your learning across this medium would enable graduates to show how they worked on their projects; what they achieved; how they planned, prepared and implemented; how they worked together. The key focus was on using the tool to for networking, collaboration and problem solving with the aim that by doing this, they would build their own networks internally to start conversations and connections with people in the business units they wanted to work in.
Here’s what a couple of them said about the session afterwards:
After the session, I sent a thank you note to the Graduate Committee and pitched an idea on their Yammer group to consider a “Working Out Loud” campaign through their rotations with the aim to instill the behaviours over time and across different platforms. I provided links to John Stepper’s blog and shared the conversation to the Yammer Champions group too.
The opportunity to have graduates showcase and promote their work and their learning as a means to support them in their future career and professional development was too good. I had to sow the seed.
Yesterday on my last day of work, to my surprise I saw an email that indeed the committee will now be running a Working Out Loud week on Monday 28th July until Friday 1st August.
In it they quoted John Stepper’s blog post “The 5 Elements of Working Out Loud”
“Working out loud can be anything you want it to be. “Working Out Loud” starts with making your work visible in such a way that it might help others. When you do that, when you work in a more open and connected way – you can build a purposeful network that makes you more effective and provides access to more opportunities.”
I know that one group who will make it a success and find ways to make it for them – in their own way – would be the graduates.
Even though I will not be there in person anymore to see what results, I will contact a few of them later on in the year to see how working out loud and learning out loud helped them in their professional and career development and networking and see how they have translated these behaviours into a wider external peer global network.
But one step at a time…