“Larry, can we make an appointment with you to do some Yammer training? Our Yammer group has not really been used that much, so we just want to make sure everyone knows how it works.”

Usually, my answer is an eager “Yes, of course, happy to help!” I want people to feel comfortable with the platform, and to know that it can serve as an effective way to communicate and collaborate.

We arrange an online meeting, I carefully go through the technical ins and outs of how Yammer works, everyone is enthusiastic, and then…nothing. Activity does not change and engagement does not increase. Nothing improves.

So, why is there no change? Our users are not dim-witted dullards who have never seen a computer keyboard before. Our group leaders are not inexperienced Luddites who don’t want to try new things. Where is the disconnect? What is not working well?

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I think it starts with me. I think I have been providing the wrong answer when asked to do more training. I should just say no.

Training is a quick, easy attempt to fix a complex problem, and when reviewing  group activity (or the lack thereof), we see that it is often much less an issue of training than it is an issue of how we use and lead a Yammer group.

Reviewing activity in an under performing Yammer group, usually we see lots of posts that push out information, announce dates and programs, and questions that have gone unanswered. What we don’t see is meaningful collaboration. We don’t see meaningful questions being asked. We don’t see helpful answers provided. We don’t see community being created.

Rather than offer training, I suggest a communication and collaboration strategy, designed to engage users. I encourage group administrators and moderators to consider a few important points.

  1. Make resources easy to find: Pin key resources to the Network Resources area in the right channel of the Yammer group page. Name all resources using a uniform file naming structure so they are easy to read and discern. Add topics to files so they will be easy to organize, and easy to share.
  2. Make sure all posts are answered: Other users can be tagged in responses, moderators can provide key content, or the “Like” button can be used. Whatever will help to remind people they are not alone in the group, and that people are listening and paying attention.
  3. Strategically plan posts: Phrase posts so they invite responses, rather than just push information out. Don’t post so often that other people feel like there is no “space” for them to participate, yet post regularly enough so users know that your group is alive and well.
  4. Don’t be afraid to have fun. All work and no fun makes Yammer users bored. Have fun. Use the poll functionality. Attach GIF files and photos to your posts. Use the praise tool. Click “Like”….a lot.
  5. What should be in Yammer? Your Yammer group is not always going to be the solution. SOmetimes, you will want to use email to draw people to Yammer. Sometimes, work will be done in platforms like Sharepoint, or Microsoft Teams. Have a plan. Think strategically.
  6. Be strategic. The time you invest in planning communication and collaboration now will be time saved later. Avoid the syndrome of “Ready, Fire, Aim” and work more smarter, and more effectively.

The time for Yammer training will come, but without careful planning, your well trained Yammer users may find themselves with no community to engage with, and nothing to do.

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