With all the buzz
surrounding Microsoft Teams, you could be forgiven for assuming that Microsoft
would like you to abandon email, Yammer and other tools in the Office 365 suite
and use it for all your day to day communications. That couldn’t be further
from the truth.
Microsoft Teams is a great choice for replacing tools like Skype for Business in your environment, for all of the following reasons:
- It makes rapid,
team discussions much easier fast paced
- It allows you to easily co-author documents with your colleagues
- It enables you to bring in integrated tools and bots into a single interface – and can even replace your organization’s phone system.
Teams isn’t designed
as an enterprise social network, though. And like any tool used for the wrong
purpose, if you try and make it act like one, the people in your organization
won’t find it as useful. Just like email being over-used for purposes it was
never designed for, Teams is best left to fulfil and succeed at what it is best
Social Network, Yammer, is designed for open communication and collaboration
across an organization.
An enterprise social
network can be used to break down barriers between departments and business
units and allow organizations to discuss and share ideas without needing to
traverse the traditional hierarchy many companies have.
One of the best ways
to see where Yammer might be suitable in your organization is to conduct some
user research to understand how people are struggling in their roles today, and
then map Teams, Yammer and other tools in the suite to solve business user’s
But before you begin understanding how to effect change using a standard approach, like Prosci, it’s worth understanding some of the key reasons why you should consider Yammer rather than Teams for certain types of conversations.
Use the right “loop”
Microsoft use a
loop model to help demonstrate where you start a conversation.
The Inner loop is the people you communicate
with regularly – your inner circle of colleagues. You work with them day-to-day
as a team, or as projects. The communications between you are informal, and you
will be working closely together to accomplish a common goal. Teams is a great
place for those conversations.
Conversely, the Outer Loop consists of other people in
your organization, who you have a connection to, but they aren’t necessarily
part of your team. They’ll be the people you might need to involve in what you
do, but they aren’t the people doing it. For example, you might work on
documentation in your team in Microsoft Teams, but need to share it and get
review from another department. Or, perhaps you need to gather feedback from
teams across the business or share news widely. Yammer is the place to be open
with people across the organization and gather their input. Use it to break
down those traditional barriers.
See relevant information, not just
Email and Microsoft
Teams are great at showing you what’s new. Click on your activity or open your
inbox and it’s sorted usually by date. Whilst technologies like the Focused
Inbox help reduce that clutter, it can be easy to miss important conversations
in Teams and Email because current events take priority.
Yammer doesn’t just
sort by what is most recent. If you’ve used other social media, you’ll be
familiar with the concept of showing you what the social network deems as most
relevant. In the context of our personal lives, that might be to show us
information about the people we interact with most or the topics or views we
hold most dear.
In the work
context, Yammer helps to do the same thing. The graph helps to show useful,
relevant information from people working on similar things to you, groups with
relevant information rather than just what was commented on last. That means
the time you spend in Yammer is more valuable – as you aren’t just trawling
through threads. And because time-sensitive information might be in Teams
instead, your less frequent visits to Yammer aren’t an onslaught of all the
latest news – you can dip into relevant conversations, have your say, and then
get back to work.
Use it for executive engagement
executive team isn’t likely to abandon their duties and spend the day pursuing
the company social network – but it is important for them to understand the
value of it and use it where it adds value to them and fellow colleagues.
In the traditional
model of top-down communications, employees might receive emails from the CEO
letter them know about the latest changes, or have their message posted on the
intranet or even a paper newsletter. In those cases, there’s often not two-way
feedback. People know that even in the case of a direct email to the company
from the boardroom, it is probably sent from a PA or secretary sending on their
behalf. And who knows what might happen if you reply to the CEO and bypass your
management when sharing your views?
When we consider
Teams, it’s also impractical and not necessarily productive for the executive
team to join a variety of Teams across the organization. A better way of
getting the barometer for company feeling – and to make sure employees know
it’s a forum that they should be professional and can share their views – is to
By coaching executives on how to spend a small amount of time getting the most relevant information out of Yammer, liking or commenting on threads they will add value to – and sharing their insight on the social network, you’ll have more success. Yammer will be the place where employees can get noticed for the great things they do, and your C-level executives can look very engaged without needing to spend too much time away from their duties.
Share what you are doing with
people outside your team
Whilst Teams is a
great place to work in real time on a document or work together with your inner
circle, sharing what you are doing as widely as possible often benefits
adopt a culture of “working out loud” and Yammer can be a great vehicle for
this. In some organizations, the culture is already there – or can be changed –
to allow for open sharing across teams to share knowledge.
It might be that
the company you work on already know that the silos people work in are already
a problem, and (as one business exec put it) “it’s time to break down the
doors”. This can’t always be readily achieved – especially if the reward
structure, like bonuses or competitive atmospheres between teams or offices –
doesn’t match the behaviour you are trying to drive. But for some businesses
it’s quite common for different offices, or different teams doing similar
tasks, to come up with their own best practices and not share them with others.
They may already be crying out for tools to accomplish this, and Yammer is a
great tool to use to meet those needs.
Ask questions your inner circle
might not know the answers to
You already know
that the team you work in doesn’t know everything – but it’s still quite easy
to slip into “not invented here syndrome” or a variation of it; or even go outside
for guidance when the right people might be in your organization – you just
don’t know it.
Yammer is a great
place to ask questions about topics when the company has people with the
knowledge – they just don’t all work in the same department. Yammer groups for
specialist subjects can be a great place to ask those questions, find answers
to similar topics and build and create organizational knowledge organically.
like Microsoft Search, people won’t just need to go to Yammer to
find those answers in the future either. They can search across Office 365 and
the answer from Yammer will surface.
Before you send an instant message to someone in
another team to ask the question – consider asking them over Yammer, if you can
– in a relevant group. That way, the next time someone else needs to know the
answer it will be available for others. Making Yammer part of the organization
includes using it regularly and building up the value over time, and this can
be a great way to do so.
Steve is a Microsoft MVP for Office Servers and Services. He enjoys getting hands-on, solving some of the more complex problems associated with migrating to the cloud or to newer versions of Exchange Server.