“I hate Yammer.”
I was at a professional conference, talking to my colleagues about Yammer. I was demonstrating the benefits of working in a collaborative platform. I was talking about how an enterprise social networking platform, such as Yammer (or Slack, or Workplace by Facebook, or Teams) is a wonderful way to share information, to connect with experts and expertise, and to be more transparent and collaborative.
Some of the people I was talking to at the conference were already passionate users of Yammer. Other people I talked to were curious and wanted to know more. One person had a much more negative response. “I hate Yammer” she said. She spoke honestly. Sincerely. Plaintively.
I have administered Yammer networks now for over four years, and while this was not the first time someone reacted to the Yammer platform in this way, I must confess it still stings every time I hear such negative feedback. I work very hard to run our Yammer networks. I have learned a lot along the way. I have celebrated new functionality, and have commiserated with our users over real and perceived shortcomings and glitches of the platform. I feel ownership. I feel protective. When someone tells me they hate Yammer, I feel like I am being told I am not good at my work. I know that is not the case, and I know that this is not what they mean to say, but that not so fleeing thought runs through my mind every time.
And then I remind myself of a few things.
- I remind myself that I did not invent Yammer. I do not work for Yammer. I do not develop new features of Yammer, and I don’t decide what functionality will ultimately be added to the platform. I do, however, know people who work at Yammer. I know them to be smart, hard working and passionate people, but I am not one of them. And yet I promote Yammer. I encourage people to use Yammer because I think it is a good technology platform and it can make positive contributions to our work.
- I remind myself that a lot of people hate Facebook, the iPhone, the Microsoft Windows operating system and Comcast cable TV. If there is one person who loves something, usually there will be another person will find a reason to hate it. Just because a platform is hated does not mean that the platform does not do what it is supposed to do well. It could be that someone just does not care for the layout, does not connect with other people who use the platform, or they just don’t understand how to make best use of the tool.
- I remind myself that passion is a good thing. When my colleague said she hated Yammer, she had passion and care in her voice. She wants to connect with colleagues and she wants to access useful information and expertise. Could it be that she is hesitant to explore new technology? Could it be that she feels she is too old for this type of software? Too young? Could it just be that she, like so many other people, just does not like change and desperately wants things to go back to the way they were?
So where does this hate come from? Passion goes both ways. We are passionate about the things we like, and we are passionate about the things we don’t like. Sometimes, the passion for things we like feeds the passion for the things we don’t like. They become polar opposites. For instance…if I love the Chicago Cubs, chances are good I will hate the Chicago White Sox. Who do you like more, The Beatles or the Rolling Stones? Whichever band you like the most, how do you feel about the other one? If you used an email listserv for years, though you did not care much for the long chains of conversations, the endless email signatures and pleas to “Remember the environment and not print this email,” now that the listserv is gone (placed on the technological trash heap of our collective past), you may find now that you sorely miss that platform that you knew so well. Maybe that love, and that sense of loss, dictates your feelings about the new platform you are being asked to use.
Ultimately, passion is a good thing. If there is a thing…a what, a where…I hope you love it…passionately. And if you don’t like it, I hope there is passion behind your reasons. Regarding Yammer, I hope my colleagues’ passion for connection, networking and collaboration will ultimately outweigh the passion she feels against Yammer so she can open herself up and learn a new skill set, a new way to communicate.
However you feel, be passionate, and may that passion lead us all to more information and more success. May we all be passionate.