TRUE LIFE: Social Onboarding

This is a guest post by my team member Paul Agustin. 

First off, I want to thank Allison for this opportunity to contribute to her blog. My name is Paul Agustin (@PSAgustin) and I am the newest member of her team. Working at Yammer, I’m constantly amazed at its many uses in the workplace. I’m using Notes to take and maintain minutes from meetings with clients as we map out how to roll out training to them. I’m sharing Files with my colleagues for feedback and discussion, utilizing their countless stories and experiences. I’ve been able to discuss and share ideas on upcoming projects with co-workers on the other side of the country, some whom I’ve never even met. Yammer is really changing the way I’ve viewed “working.”  As I’m writing this, I can’t believe I’ve only been at this job for about two months. That’s not a typo. I’ve only been at Yammer for two months. How many people can say, they’ve been able to achieve full productivity in less than a month? (I should have written this blog a month ago, but I was off being productive at Yammer.) Since Day 1 at Yammer, I’ve been able to hit the ground running and I don’t think it would have been possible, if Yammer wasn’t used as part of the onboarding process. Now, you must be thinking, Yammer for onboarding?

From the get go, I’ve been immersed in Yammer. Before my official start date, I was given access to an external network called Yammerversity. This gave me a chance to work in Yammer right away and expose myself to its different features and functionality. (I came from a company that did not use Yammer, so this was my first exposure to it).

Through this, Yammer and I were able to achieve a couple of things:

  1. I became familiar and comfortable with my new job role.
    As more and more people continue to use Yammer within a company, it becomes a knowledge repository. Conversations specific to my team and around their notes and files, are a treasure trove of information on getting up to speed. Being able to see the discussions behind every webinar and presentation, really helped me to know what was expected of me and how I could immediately contribute to the team. Part of my onboarding process was to go through the Yammer certifications. As I was going through them, I shared my feedback on things that needed to get updated and how to improve some of the quiz questions. This was then used to update our certifications.
  2. I was able to learn about company culture and get access to job related resources.
    Cynthia, who led onboarding at Yammer (@CynthiaCHanson) put a fantastic Preboarding Note together that contained links to various e-Learning modules covering Yammer basics, the history of Yammer, and the culture of the company. By the time I stepped into the office, I already had a sense of the people and the company. Once I was given full access to the home network, I was added to a group called Yammer New Hires, which had additional Notes on benefits information and company sites I should be aware of. The best resource of them all though was all of the conversations that had already happened. When I had questions about our commuter benefits, I did a quick search and found my answer. If I couldn’t find an answer on Yammer, I could post it to the company (in the appropriate group, of course), and know that someone will be able to help me out.
  3. I was able to start to build relationships and network.
    The first thing you’re supposed to do once you’re granted access to the Yammer home network, is to post a #bammerintro. (Bammer is a nickname for a baby Yammer, or a noob.) In your Bammer intro, you are to introduce yourself to the company and share a bit about yourself. Folks across the company can “Like” your message and reply with their own welcomes and greetings. This one little exercise is a great start to building relationships. When I finally visited the company headquarters, people already knew who I was and I knew who they were based on our interactions in Yammer. I already felt like part of the team, before I actually met Cynthia, Natalie, Kristin  and Louise in person.
  4. I was able to feel engaged and valued.
    “Working out loud” in Yammer creates transparency in what I’m working on and what other people are working on to. Allison has mentioned me on conversations that she thinks are relevant to me or that I can provide value to. Through this transparency, I can see my comments and suggestions are being read and used. Just the other day, I put together a deck about what do now that you’re a Yammer Certified Power User. Allison loved the idea and wanted to use it in our other certification programs.

social generationThese are just a few of the ways Yammer has eased my transition to my new job. If you’re looking for a way to jolt your onboarding program, try making it a little more “social,” you’ll be pleased with the results. I know I was.

Thanks Paul! You’ve been great addition to the team and I know these learnings will be good for others to read. So, how about you, have you tried to “socialize” your new hires? What are you learning? How can a tool like Yammer help facilitate and enable those conversations and communities?

Stop making collaboration an initiative. Make it a reality.

Collaboration. Social. Innovation. These are the buzz words that fill my twitter feed today.

This week I have the pleasure of attending a few of our customer internal leadership summits, expos and all hands meetings. These two customers are in completely different industries and do not even remotely compete however the message is very very similar.

Collaboration. 

Seems to me like this buzzword is flying around in organizations today. A few months ago I found out that there are people who have the sole job of a “Collaboration Relationship Manager”. I am not sure if I agree with this or disagree – but I do find it a bit weird. Your role is to help manage the collaboration relationship? Huh?

Recently I finished the book “Organizations Don’t Tweet, People do: A Manager’s Guide to Social Web” by Euan Semple  and learned great lessons throughout the book. One of the key messages that also aligns to this post is not to make “collaboration” an initiative and to really do it. In every project, nook and corner office of your organization find ways to collaborate. To get better, faster and to not settle for the status quo.

Think about your organization today and where would you lie on the scale if you had to actually measure your “collaborative” efforts? What’s the picture that is being painted by management? What are your current barriers to a more collaborative environment?

Semple (p. 70) says, there is “no point in having knowledge if people don’t know you have it, and if you are not prepared to share it .. “

If you really believe what Semple says above, what tools, resources and guidance are in place to share freely in your organization? Social platforms and tools like Yammer help “to increases the quality and frequency of the conversations that get your job done (p. 107).”

But in reality, what is collaboration all about?

Semple (p.132) defines collaboration,

True collaboration is a succession of … small examples of the willingness to help another person….Collaboration is a shared willings to address problems or opportunities and often to contribute hard won personal experience to doing so. You want there to be as few barriers to collaboration as possible.

Don’t turn collaboration into an initiative but make it easier to do so. Dont talk about doing it but instead increase the frequency and quality of those conversation that get your job done. Don’t just think that you will naturally be wiling to collaborate on your next project, just do it. 

 

What does your organization look like in terms of “collaboration”. What are YOU doing in order to make your self more collaborative? What’s holding you back?

Leave me a note – would love to hear all about it.

The Art of Engagement (part 3) – Keys to Engagement

In Jim Haudin’s Book, The Art of Engagement, he goes into great detail to lay the foundation of engagement tactics that are not only solid in proof but also in evidence. He gives you piratical advice that you can apply today – to the projects, change iniatives, technolgy advance and stratgy meetings you are setting up for next year.

From the other two posts I have written in reflection – Being apart of something big and Voices from the trenches –  this final post in this series is going to walk through Haudin’s keys to engagement. I, of course have social business on the brian and will be looking at these points with the social technology point of view, but they could honestly be applied to any strategic movement.

Keys to Engagement 

  1. Connecting through images and stories
  2. Creating pictures together
  3. Believing in Leaders
  4. Owning the solution
  5. Playing the entire game
  6. Allowing people to practice before performing

I may have written about this before but I will always be an advocate for imagery over beautifully crafted and highly strategic words. Think about drawing a picture. You can’t draw a picture if you haven’t thought about what you want it to look like in the end. Even if it is a simple picture, you still need to look at it from a bigger picture. Of course you could just start drawing and see where the pencil takes you, but don’t expect anyone else to understand what you are doing or to jump into the picture and help you.

Haudin uses a great activity, which I want to start using with the teams I work with. He calls it something to the effect of Napkin iterations. Providing a cocktail napkin to the team, encourage the team to draw their business landscape. As a team share what you have drawn then continue to iterate and build one picture until the picture accurately shows the current state (or future desired state). When I thinking about bringing social tools into the organization to help improve business velocity and accelaration I could not think of a more perfect way to misinpreret what that means, plus that could mean something different for each function of the business. If the goal is to move your business to faster and quicker results, how can we help visualize this and do it together? By creating visual iterations of the big pictures you as a team will be able to see if what you said really shows what you meant. Plus as with collaboration, your single idea of what the big idea is will be better with the ideas of your team.

As I work with many leaders in our customers organizations, I often ask them what they think is being discussed at their water cooler?

Some look at me with puzzled looks, as if they don’t have a watercooler. But we really talk about the conversations people are having and what they have done to contribute to them, or benefit from them. With the social tools, such as Yammer, they provide these water cooler conversations to become visible and actionable. Instead of their associates grubling behind the back and not doing anything about it, leaders truly have charge about them in creating the change.

When you begin to involved people to make their own conclusions and solutions about the strategy — they feel engaged.

Haudin writes, ” when conclusions change, behavioral changes often follow (p. 129).”

How can you encourage your employees to learn rather than take what is served to them to discover their need for the change. Think about the last time you showed a group the “answers” for the change and how that worked out? My guess is that if someone showed me the answers to a problem that would encourage apathy not engage me.

Thinking about your business. Do all your employees know the fundamentals pieces of your business? Like where the money comes from, where it goes and how much your organization keeps? If not what can you be doing to help them understand and see that at the very basic level. Sometimes people forget what it is like to be new or not understand. Haudin talks again about maps, and how no matter the skill level or the educational level of a person – they still have to be able to read your map.

The last thought about engagement is practicing. Now I go back and forth on this – practicing does not always equal training. It could mean that some people need more help than others and some need some advice with coaching. It means that people need the tools that get them to the next level. But practicing also means a sense of trust and safety to fail. This can mean huge results when thinking about decisions about the change.

 

Check out the other (Being apart of something big) Part 1 or (Voices from the trenches) Part 2 of this recap.

Art of Engagement (Part 2) – Voices from the trenches

In my previous post, I briefly cover some ideas that Haudin talks about the roots or the foundation of engagement.

But what about the voices that matter. So the people in the trenches might not be engaged, but why? What is holding them back? In the book the Art of Engagement, Jim Hauden speaks to the voices from the trenches.

Before I even dig into that, I want you to check out the Disengaged Canyon. I found this a few years ago and have fell in love with the amazing way that the visual representation very accurately shows the organizations that I work with. Here is a short video but you can get the picture…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=xNd2hPsYrMA]

So what do these voices from the trenches say? How can you get them over this fear of actually engaging abd being a part of something big? So what is holding people back from just “getting it” and doing the right thing of accepting the strategy?

The voices (reasons) of why I can’t be engaged if…

  • I am overwhelmed
  • I don’t get it
  • I am scared
  • I don’t see the big picture
  • Its not mine
  • My leaders don’t face reality

These are things that change agents in the organization working with the senior leaders and managers should aim to overcome. The reality is if you don’t take a “strategy” off of someone’s plate, they might not be sure of what to do with the new one you just added. And then people just work to survive, forget looking at the big picture. Haudin uses the analogy of relevancy and communication. He talks about if your communication were similar to a stand up comedian, would you get a laugh from the crowd or would you hear crickets.  If you think people might not get it, what can you do to test it to the crowd? And what would the crowd do if they read/heard them?

Haudin compares the Big picture to a TripTik vs. a GPS.

[slideshow]

When you travel with your TripTik you always know “You are here”. You see the context and the surrounding areas. However when you use a GPS you are strictly dependent on the satellite connection and/or 3G. Now this isn’t a debate about which is better or not, but I have experienced this as well. If I travel somewhere and get a GPS I honestly have no idea where I am in relation to anything other than my specific destination. I have no sense of a bigger picture. And sometimes that hurts me when I am trying to get where I need to be because I have missed it. What maps could you provide your employees to better get the BIG PICTURE and so they know where the  You are Here sign is on the strategic journey of engagement?

Also imagine that the strategy or the process you are trying to change could be visualized to be on top of a puzzle box. What would that image look like?

This book does a great deal of explaining how important visualization is – because its hard to draw something that hasn’t been thought out in great detail. Going a bit further with the puzzle analogy, how complex is the “puzzle”? How many pieces will it have? Think about these things as you begin to get people to think about the big picture.

You can’t create beautiful powerpoint slides that force people to make the change or to make them more engaged. You also can’t force the “aha” moments. One of the key things I have learned from this book and that has been validated by the work I have done, is that you can’t turn on someone’s lightbulb for them nor can you make them change. You can, however, create an environment where the aha moment might take place and let it happen. You can help facilitate it and be there  to coach and mentor the people along the way. All I know is that I don’t change because someone tells me to, nor am I engaged because its the best for our business. I am engaged because I know what I do falls in line of something bigger than me and I have and understand the big picture.

What about you? What tools do you need to see the picture on the puzzle box? What aha moments have you recently had and what was the big revelation?

Art of Engagement (part 1) – Being apart of something big

I recently finished the Art of Engagement and I want to share what I learned and the highlights from it. Obviously engagement is a HUGE piece in organizations and their success. It’s what make the organizations tick, what makes organizations step up and beat out the competition.

Haudin does a great job of explaining how to take senior leaders,

“on strategic road trip that focused on looking through the windshield instead of in the rear view mirror… (leaders should) ride the winds of change rather than be blown away by them. (p. 11)  “

A huge aha and learning moment for me was the part when Haudin talks about the foundation of creation and executing stratgies around engagement.

“Success, competitiveness , and vitality were not determined by the sharpness of the vision of  and strategy of the brightest few, but by the learnings, understand and execution speed of the slowest many. (p.12). “

Haudin also talks about the basics in the first few chapters, or the “Roots of Engaging people”. These points aren’t new but they are fundamental to understand when people aren’t engaged and the reason why.

People want to:

  • be apart of something big
  • feel a sense of belonging
  • go on a meaningful journey
  • know that their contributions are making an impact difference

The example that they give in the book is how Disney leadership performs in the Main Street parade in Magic Kingdom. The new leaders get to see first hand  that their contributions are making a difference in their customers lives.

So that leaves me thinking, what could your organization do to give a similar perspective to your employees? What could you do to let them know and understand that their contributions, regardless of what their job is, are for a bigger purpose. Is it bringing them to a customer visit? Allowing them to sit in an industry event? What about bringing the outside in for a new perspective?  What could you do to help your organization share that bigger purpose?

On thing that my organization just did was bring in 3 of our customers from varying backgrounds. We got to hear their story, the pains and the success of their journey. We got to listen to how they were changing the way their organization was doing things. And it was cool. It sparked some realizations for myself, of where else could we improve engagement if we brought the outside in?

What are you doing in terms of engaging your employees? How can you help share the knowledge that you are learning and the battle scars you are learning from doing that such thing?

Part 2 I will talk about the “Voices of the Trenches” and the reasons why people aren’t engaged and what I learned from the book. Part 3 – “Keys to Engagement”