It’s always there, and nobody is ever surprised by its presence. It’s the elephant everyone’s ok talking about, because everybody knows internal communications suck.
Corporate centres continue to cling to traditional top-heavy formats, and have probably convinced themselves they’ve already made the transition to the digital age because they now spam everyone with pdf newsletters. Another box ticked.
There is a time and a place for top-down dissemination of certain kinds of info, of course, but what has been lacking for so long is a method by which information can freely flow upwards and sideways as well as just down from the top. This is nobody’s fault really, and if anything is to blame, it’s the lack of appropriate tools or mechanisms to enable this kind of networking.
But wait, this is 2011, surely there are clever new tools to enable this sort of thing?
One such contender making waves in some organisations is Yammer.
Yammer is marketed as a social network for your workforce, a way for people to share information about what they’re doing, and connect with people across the organisation to build better cooperative links.
There are many positive reports from people within local government using Yammer effectively, and I’ve put together a few quotes picked up from some of the CoP fora.
Alongside the positive reasons for wanting to use Yammer, there is lots of advice about how to implement it effectively.
Following these 5 basic tips should increase your chances of getting a successful Yammer network going.
1. We all love a bit of JFDI, but check with your IT/web/comms teams first to check if there are any plans to implement anything similar.
2. Sell the idea based on the advantages it will bring in terms of helping to meet business objectives. It’s not just for staff to chat about their holidays, it’s to enable people to quickly connect with the right expertise, and for the right links to be made right at the early stages of a project. It will cut through silo working and optimise project teams.
3. Don’t force it. Let it grow organically, and it might spread in a viral way. It’s about ownership – if people choose to participate in it, they’ll be more emotionally invested than if it’s the latest corporate fad being pushed on to everyone whether they like it or not.
4. Cherry pick a group of people to get it started who you know will chip in with positive posts and be generous in their replies. Let it spread outward from these people to whoever shows an interest. This pilot group could be cross departmental in its makeup.
5. Monitor the activity, as people will be watching. The Yammer question “what are you working on? ” should help avoid too much personal chat, but sooner or later you might need some juicy examples of some real benefits that have arisen from the use of Yammer, that couldn’t have come about any other way.
I’m sure there are many other points I could have included here. Please feel free to add your own experiences in the comments section.
What are the CoP groups saying about Yammer ? A selection of views…
I think it is important that networks like Yammer are viral and fairly non-hierarchical. We already have hierarchical modes of communication in big organisations – cascade briefings, the occasional consultation – but Yammer scratches in itch in between inter-team comms and allowing conversation and communication outside the top down.
Ingrid Koehler, Improvement Strategist, LG Improvement and Development
Yammer enables people who may never have crossed each others paths to collaborate. people feel empowered to share
Karen Ramsay-Smith, Information Development, Warwickshire County Council
..amount of email they were having to deal with reduced significantly, needless meetings were avoided as discussions took place online instead, and it was much easier to find someone who could help them
The fact is that more often than not, because projects like deploying comms or collaboration tools involve technology, they are managed by the IT department. This is a serious mistake
Dave Briggs, Community Evangelist, Learning Pool
Grow it virally in the organisation, don’t impose it. Allow groups to grow and manage themselves without central control.
Tom Phillips, A Community Engagement Manager, Kent County Council
It’s peers who drive it, not the senior management. The outcome is far better.
Dan Slee, Press and PR Officer, Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council
Yammer is promoting an open conversation.
allows for a sense of what is happening in areas you may otherwise never encounter and so can make connections at an early stage in developments.
Matthew Dodd, Web / Intranet Manager, Nottinghamshire County Council