How often do you think of your workplace or organization as a community? How often does it actually feel like a real community?
Depending on company culture, we’re more likely to think of where we work as a network of corridors and cubes than a network of content and collaboration. We know the best path to get to the break room; we don’t often know where the path even begins for us to find out who has the information we need.
This is why Yammer has helped so many organizations turn knowledge barriers into knowledge bases, and foster an environment of open collaboration, content, and connectivity. And this is also why it’s so important to remember what drives all the awesomeness we see in a successful Yammer network.
And because it’s full of people, you must be prepared to evolve your expectations.
The Things You Can Control
These are largely the mechanics: Getting leadership buy-in, writing a user policy and How To guides, and setting up the network itself are all part of a fervent yet extremely satisfying checkbox process.
You may also already have decided upon key analytics, and your policy may include a definitive “This is how Our Company will use Our Yammer Network” set of statements.
I cannot stress this enough:
Example #1: Elsie-in-Accounting can answer Alfred-in-Marketing’s question about something in Marketing. Will Alfred think to ask Elsie? Probably not; Alfred will most likely stick to his known circle of Marketing colleagues, the people he’d typically email or call into a meeting.
But the company has Yammer now, so instead of restricting his ask to his known circle, Alfred posts about it. Elsie sees this during her morning scan of the Home Feed and jumps right in to help.
Now Alfred knows that Elsie knows something about Marketing. And now the rest of the company knows, too.
Example #2: CEO Kayla reads something about the company on social media. She posts a link in Yammer with her thoughts about it. Now the rest of the company not only knows about this external post, but how the CEO views it. People tend to take their tone from the top, so these few moments add up to a great influential opportunity.
Not everyone is always going to be in the right place at the right time to hear or say something. On Yammer, everybody is part of the same gathering no matter when they join in.
The Things You Can’t Control (But Which Ultimately Can Be Awesome)
Imagine your next multi-team project where you know the participants beyond their ID badge.
How can you encourage this? By going beyond work collaboration and letting people act like people on your Yammer network.
This means they may not always talk about work. In fact, they may outright take a few minutes to talk about anything but work.
Here’s why your Yammer Network Policy should not ban this “yammering”*:
- We’re with each other more than eight hours a day and 40 hours a week, yet we all have outside interests and happenings.
- If people feel comfortable enough to share who they are beyond their daily work tasks, they’ll feel more connected to each other and, by extension, to the company.
- Knowing the “softer” side of our colleagues helps build interest and camaraderie, and ultimately lead to increased trust.
You have the opportunity for all this knowledge-enhancing and boundary-dissolving to happen—if you let it.
These benefits may not be immediately or as easily measurable as other analytics. But I sincerely believe that by allowing your Yammer network to behave as a true community**, it will evolve beyond its original scope and intent to result in a vibrant, innovative, competitive organization that reflects outward to your clients and customers.
*Worried about gumming up your network with pets, music, and events? Channel all those non-work topics into dedicated groups.
**With all due judicious attention, of course. Set up keyword monitoring for those just-in-case moments.
Becky is a 3rd-year Microsoft Office Apps & Services MVP. At the Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI), she manages strategic collaboration, content, and community through Yammer, Teams, and SharePoint. She’s presented at Microsoft Ignite and various user groups, and mentors Yammer admins around the world.
Becky is also a published children’s book author. “The Squeezor is Coming!” is her latest book, with a fourth book coming out in 2019.