A very common question…What should I post to Yammer?

What should I post to Yammer? [Or insert tool of choice] 

I get this question often when I work with a variety of people, end users, admins, leaders. These people who are trying to figure out how to use the social and collaboration tools.

For me personally, this is a non-issue. But its because of how I am wired. I am a connector. It feels natural for me to share what I am up to, what’s holding me up and why I am working on the things I am focusing on. It’s also how I have been working the last 10 years of my career.

A few years ago I ran a globally dispersed team. I shared with my team “Don’t ever let me guess what you are working on”. Not because I am a micromanager, but because I was trying to instill some habits of “working out loud“.  I would pull up a team member’s Yammer profile and see where they’d been posting, which groups they’ve been working with and where they were at with certain projects or initiatives.  I didn’t want them to work in their own silo (or email inbox). They didn’t need to include me (or @mention me) on every conversation, I could look for myself. Likewise, I didn’t need to be included in every email they sent either. During my1x1s with my team members, it became less about status updates, and more about strategy, roadblocks or working sessions.

Sharing links to articles of relevant industry news or blogs is easy and usually the starting point for many people. I believe there’s more that could be shared. More context. More details. More intrinsic knowledge behind the decisions.

Here’s of 5 ideas on what you could post to Yammer:

  1. Be interested instead of interesting.
  2. Ask questions.
  3. Reflect on your day. Answer, who did you just meet with? Why? What is the decision that will be made?  What lessons did you learn from your most recent project?
  4. Reflect on your week. What were your high’s and lows from the week? Why? what have you accomplished? Where are the roadblocks?
  5. Reflect on your learnings. What did you learn from the webinar/training/conference you attended? Was it worth it?

Often we don’t take enough time to reflect and digest what we’ve experienced. Myself included. But these opportunities of reflection become the building blocks of context that ourselves or others will need to make better decisions in the future.

 

For more great ideas of what to post, read Jane Bozarth’s Show Your Work.   Working out Loud week is coming up in June 2017, check the link for more details and resources about how you can get your teams involved.

5 Things you can do to be Interested in your followers

I remember hearing this saying a few years ago and it blew my mind.

 “Stop trying to be interesting. Just be interested.”

I am not sure exactly who coined the term as I’ve seen a few memes and quotes of it since then. And I’ve seen and said it a variety of ways. Regardless the meaning stays true.

A few days ago I met with a friend to work on her social media plans for the remainder of this month and dream for the next year. She’s an author and speaker and wants to continue to improve her platform and her following. We talked about campaigns and calendars, scheduling and showing the imperfectness of her children and holiday décor. People love peering through the looking glass to see how you really live life. And in a world of “connectedness” people still feel lonely or that no one is listening to them.

After talking with her I came up with a quick list of ways that we could all be more interested in our followers regardless of the platform or medium.

  1. Be Helpful – Share an article you read that would help them based on what they shared. Maybe its tips for running faster, or how to save money by meal planning, or shopping advice for the holidays. I think the more related to their personal life the better.
  2. Encourage them–  Share a note to encourage them along the process even if you don’t have any advice to add. There’s a lot to be said when someone encourages another and could help motivate them.
  3. Respond – For one week, pick 5 or 10 followers and write back a response to their posts. Like a real response, not a bot response or a one word “LOVE” response. I’ve done this a few times, sometimes with people I don’t even really “know” and its been fun learning more about them and building a better foundation for a relationship.
  4. Share a story – There’s something great about hearing a story about something similar, especially if you want to show some empathy (or humor!). It brings a human element to a very processed, calendar and scheduled feed of noise. Just be careful that you don’t try and “one-up” the person trying to make yourself look better with your story.
  5. Listen  – Follow up or ask someone about something specific that was shared. It shows that they actually read and listened and remembered. Enough to ask and care about what’s happening behind the screen.  This is powerful, and rarely happens online, let alone in other relationships.

What about you? Do you have any tips or things people online have done to show that they were truly and genuinely interested in you and you in them? Any business that is doing this well?

 

Here’s a post by Eric Kraus about Interested vs Interesting in Enterprise Social networks and a bit more about the background of culture if you want to explore further.

 

Lessons Learned about Workplace Communications – Part III – Workflows & Business Process

Lesson # 3 Workflows and Business Processes matter!

This was an early lesson I learned working with so many companies throughout the years. Many wanted to start something “new” with these collaboration tools. Something different, or outside of their normal. When actually, going back to their business processes would help further the change.

I’d highly recommend partnering with teams and departments willing to embrace and try their business processes with some elements changed, replaced, incorporated with the new set of tools. Instead of starting something new just for the sake of another way to communicate, tack on to an initiative that is already in motion.

If you know me, you know how much I love “tables”, more on that later. But my point here is this, Get a seat at a table that already exist. There may and will be opportunities to create more, new, different, special, tables. But for now. Pull up a chair to one that already is within the walls of your organization.

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For example, let’s say your department is project based. How your team, group celebrates wins and discusses lessons learned after each project? Do they conduct post-mortems (if they don’t, they should do some sort of reflection regardless!)? How can you work with technology as a tool to enable knowledge sharing after a project? What would that look like? How does that need to be prepared, facilitated?

This leads me to the next point, with starting small and specific. Notice how I didn’t say to replace all your internal email communication with this shiny new tool. That’s unrealistic for most, and too drastic of a change for the rest. Starting small helps create habits.

If you are on a team, start with a daily round robin of what everyone is working on, weekly share the highs/lows, once a month post a picture of your desk/client/environment and what you are most proud about and what you would like to change/do better. Using examples that tie even closer to the business process, the better.

Finally, celebrate the #WINS! I have learned that its pretty hard to argue with experience. I enjoy Twitter, and I often use my experience to show the power of Twitter and social networking beyond what is stereotyped(Read 140 Characters Changed my life).

It is life changing. It does matter. Working together with our network of people right within our own walls of our organizations could have a huge impact to our clients and employees. Encourage employees to find their own win and start telling their story! The more personal, the more impact!

 

Did you find that working with teams or departments who are more willing to weave new tools of communication are easier or more difficult to find within organizations? Why do you think so?

Sustainable Training

I often get asked by my clients, with the pace of change how do you keep your training materials up to date?

There comes a point in time when you just give up.

Or there comes a point where you know there is a different way.

Because I’ve worked at start ups and software companies where product changed at least weekly, we had to be creative and a strategic in the way we created and maintained training materials.

If  I am creating something brand new, immediately think about longevity. How long is this document, presentation, course, job aid, video going to last? When will be used? For how long? What’s the purpose and the audience behind it? Answering some of these questions helps me narrow down the actual output created.

If I am working with maintaining existing material I work through a simple change matrix. Based on a scale of 1-10, a team member works through number of people impacted, look and feel (UX) change, and workflow impact. After agreeing on a rating for these few factors the numbers would add up to a specific change level and we’d focus on the working through materials from there.

Sounds like a lot of work, but it was pretty simple once it was in place. We can quickly focus on updating the materials appropriately for the change to support the performance we expected out of the impacted audience.

I’ve created these for the sanity of my own teams, but also to help set expectations with customers and our own leadership. Having a clear picture of what and when will be available and up to date based on the specifics of a change, made working with the teams easier.

Finally, the other way I focus on sustainable based training, is by focusing on the workflows or business process. Building this type of training materials and programs could be more involved as they may overlap systems and be cross functional.  If you create training based on use cases of a workflow, this could mean less maintenance. One could assume that the process changes less often than the product. I understand it may not always be the case, but primary this is what I have seen with my experience. These programs took longer to design and build, but they took less time to upkeep. I will probably write more on this so stay tuned.

If this is something that your organization needs help with, drop me a line. Would love to help figure out what the factors and scale are for creating sustainable training programs and documentation.

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Next Generation of Training

So – I just returned home from the annual American Society of Training Development Conference – in Chicago. And I am beginning to take what I have learned and combine them into something greater – and easier for myself to reflect on later.  My team also had a great strategy session before leaving for the conference – talking about what does our company look like in 6 months and in 5 years – and what are we doing now to prepare for it. Just by taking that day out – and focusing on our internal team, will bring a clearer view even soon.

My top learning points about Next Generation Training:

  • Next Generation training – we don’t want to be just a free in-house resource
    • make the business want and need you
    • build scalable, global world-class solutions –
    • how can we help them help their customers
    • We as trainers, wear so many hats (consultant, coach, facilitator, elearning developer, instructional designer, technical writer, the list goes on) — we should probably get a hat rack!

  • Be the Business readiness leaders – help the corporation prepare for what is ahead. NOT JUST IN THE CLASSROOM!
    • Includes Change management
    • Training – formal and informal learning 
  •  Build a better report with helpdesk – to find REAL training needs
    • find where users are having errors, and help them become more productive
    • can use real metrics with this type of reporting      
  •  Online, user to user, collaboration – learning real-time, from experts
    • Don’t make me wait!
    • JIT instead of JIC
    • Enterprise 2.0 stragey – with or without social media
    • Informal learning & Mobile learning

Great video – Need to share!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uct34fTKc4]

Did anyone else learn really great things that could apply back at the job? I think that’s the point of conferences…

We had a great time brainstorming on our train ride home – mostly about SoMe and how we could use small pieces of Social Media to integrate into what we already do… to think outside of the box with communication and getting end users to get it.

I am working on a publication now for my CIASTD friends – I am pretty excited about it. Funny thing is, what I start drafting, and how it actually turns out could be completely different.