Nobody likes meetings. It’s true, and no matter what type of company you’re working for – a startup or a Fortune 500 – it’s a drain for everybody to have to take time away from actual work to sit down and ‘yammer’ on about it. We at Social Times thought about it, did our research and implemented Yammer, and a year later it’s been one of the best decisions we’ve made. I explain 6 things we just couldn’t do without Yammer after the jump.
Essentially, Yammer is a tool for making “organizations more productive”, and that open ended description fits it well. The service allows users to participate in a Facebook-meets-Twitter social network, where each employee has a profile and can post content to various groups. It’s a chat room for employees to work together and ask each other questions, comment on their current tasks and share information. The power of an employee-base who is connected and helpful to one another cannot be underestimated. Ideas are bounced off one another, dead ends are remedied by group effort and camaraderie increases.
Here are 6 things you can’t do without Yammer.
Social Idea Generation
“The leaders of tomorrow will be those that empower others,” said Bill Gates years ago, and it seems like that’s true about today’s technology. Services like Yammer give a voice to employees that would typically have linear relationships with their manager. Lazy managers should beware, because the new generation of organizational tools is going to make it clear who’s doing the work, and who’s leading the employees. In Yammer, a great thinker will be spotted by the rest of her team, and will be able to help and guide employees on new projects with little effort.
New ideas almost always brew on Yammer, as conversations begin on almost every point of update. Yammer will certainly add creative fuel to your current workflow process.
Easy Status Update Meetings
No time for the weekly meeting? Create a “Weekly Meeting” group and get everyone to check in online. Yammer is fast enough that if everyone shows up at a certain time and dedicates 30 minutes to updating and reading that group, you can have that online status update meeting without having to be in the same room. The boss can comment on each person’s status update, make changes, send private messages and wrap it up at the end.
Since consecutive meetings will be in the same Yammer group, it becomes easy to compare this week’s status update to last week’s, and ensure that progress has been made.
A “Social” Environment
I talked about conversation above, but what I’m really saying here is that Yammer uses all the latest social tricks. Hashtags, user profiles, commenting, likes and more. These are ideas that require no education to users, and almost everyone we’ve brought into Yammer here at Social Times has picked it up extremely fast.
Yammer is also a smart, fast updating company. They have improved their interface and feature set dramatically even in the last year we’ve been using the service, and I feel that they’ll continue to improve at the same speed as services like Twitter and Facebook.
Reduce The Sense of Hierarchy
Young tech employees love startups because of the ‘horizontal’ feel. Everyone pitches in where they can, and there isn’t some meddling, bureaucratic hierarchy for most decisions. Yammer accentuates this idea, even if you are part of a massive corporation. By creating a group for employees that managers also participate in, Yammer represents a collection of ideas rather than a reminder about “who’s the boss.”
When an employee is “liked” by another employee for a quality idea or a job well done, it adds an unquantifiable positive to the work atmosphere (and a few points to productivity, as well).
Fluid Task Assignment
If your environment has employees knocking items off their list often, Yammer can be a great place to have them request new tasks. For us, we use a system of hashtags – which are supported and searchable in Yammer – for organizing our requests, approvals and delegations of work. Yammer works well here because task requests and approvals are visible, so other employees know what’s being done and who to ask.
This cuts down on a lot of unnecessary communication, and also keeps a steady flow of updates of employee progress.
The Yammer mobile application (and also just accessing Yammer.com from my mobile browser) lets you stay updated even when you’re on the road. It can be a bit difficult to navigate groups on your Mobile, but with Yammer for mobile it really feels like you can stay up to date on your entire work group 24/7. Concepts like “broadcast messages” also mean that you can ping your entire work force by email, and then have them congregate on the site. If everyone is using the mobile application, it’s not as big a deal for everyone.