Often Yammer, like many change initiatives, has a high profile launch and enjoys a period of early success, but, after the initial enthusiasm, there is a tendency to revert back to old behaviors. There needs to be a continuous reinforcement of the change until it becomes part of business as usual. Reinforcement should be focused on recognizing and rewarding changed behaviors, defining and monitoring metrics that reflect those changes, and embedding the changed behaviors in the core activities and processes of the business.
(1) Recognize and reward behavioral changes in the adoption of Yammer in new, more effective, ways of working – knowledge sharing and collaboration across geographical, location and organizational boundaries
The most direct and visible way to reinforce new behaviors is to recognize contributions on Yammer by liking and praising them online, where and as they are made. Yammer allows everyone to “Like” and “Share” posts and to specifically “Praise” individuals for outstanding contributions. This is particularly effective when done by managers and executives, raising the profile of the contributor while showcasing senior staff’s Yammer use. A public “Like” from the CEO gives a massive boost to our recognition and is a huge incentive to continue posting and collaborating.
Another important way of cementing new behaviors into the core business is to integrate them into the HR systems and processes. New behaviors can be incorporated in personal objectives within the performance management system, included as criteria for succession planning, made a condition to the entry for leadership and development programs, part of the job evaluation and recruitment processes, and included as behavioral competencies alongside familiar ones such as leadership and assertiveness. Including these as criteria for progression will change the perception of Yammer from just another new technology initiative to an entirely new way of working and organizational culture.
(2) Visible metrics to demonstrate behavioral change and benefits – active communities covering core business topics, active departments and users, success stories and use cases
If Yammer is to be a core business application, there should be active Yammer Communities covering all key business activities with appropriate representation of expertise from everywhere across the organization. Regular audits or health checks should be reported at executive level to ensure intellectual property is developed, innovation driven, and knowledge shared. It is essential the right people are focusing collaboration around the topics critical to the business.
Metrics on Yammer usage is also important to reinforcing new behaviors. Activity levels at Team, Division, and Directorate level allows us to capture best practices to share from the leading adopters and to determine where to focus communication, training, and management engagement if adoption is lacking. This will also provide an insight into who the key Yammer influencers are and identify expertise wherever it resides, often in unexpected places. Yammer is a transformative application, enabling us to work across boundaries and outside normal company hierarchies, allowing individuals to flourish.
The contribution of each Yammer Community should be measured as a health check on its effectiveness, based on the level of activity, questions satisfactorily answered, issues resolved. and lessons learned captured, along with a catalogue of success stories like benefits derived and good use cases. This requires active moderation by the Community leader to ensure the Community remains healthy and engaging to its members.
(3) Resistance Management – embedding Yammer into the core activities and processes of the business
A major factor in reducing resistance to Yammer and new ways of working is to utilize it to support the core activities of the business, making it the only place to go to stay up to date and to participate.
Yammer can be used as a primary corporate communications and news channel to all employees, interactively available on the go on smart phones and tablets or at a PC. Executives can connect through their own specific Yammer channels.
With Yammer Communities created for all key business activities, managers must ensure correct representation from their teams and allow time for staff to contribute to the wider benefit of the organization, helping to “legitimize” cross functional and cross boundary collaboration and knowledge sharing. Managers should also create Yammer Communities for their own business functions and units, providing the opportunity to showcase the work of the unit, teams, or individuals within their teams.
If we can adopt these measures, it helps to reinforce the cultural changes aimed for, focuses where further attention is needed, and reduces resistance by making Yammer part of the business process infrastructure.
About the Author
Brian Holness is a Business Change Consultant in New Signature’s UK Professional Services, specializing in the adoption of the Microsoft 365 suite of digital applications to drive new, transformative ways of working for our clients. Main interests outside of work are football and cricket, now very much as a spectator.