Learning & Development in a Social Organization

This week, the Yammer Education Services (YES) team headed south to Dallas, TX, and joined 8,000 learning professionals at the American Society for Training and Development’s (ASTD) annual International Conference and Expo. We were thrilled to meet so many amazing people at the sessions that we attended, and couldn’t believe how many customers stopped by our Expo booth to say hi! We left the conference energized by what we learned and by the many examples of how Learning & Development professionals are using Yammer in their organizations.

Informal Knowledge Transfer
In many organizations, L&D teams are using Yammer to foster informal exchanges of knowledge. Having conversations on Yammer means that everyday conversations are turned into searchable content. Employees can search this archive of internal company knowledge to help them get their work done better and in a way that is more connected to the broader organization.

Formal Knowledge Transfer
Icebreakers. Role Plays. Scenario-based discussions. L&D professionals are revising their training activities, taking training conversations outside of the classroom and eLearning module, and having them instead in a Yammer group. The conversations and activities from training are preserved in Yammer, not relegated to a post-it note, training packet or flip-chart paper.

Change Management
L&D professionals are also looking to Yammer as the right tool to foster change of any kind. Change management continued to be a very popular topic at the conference. The Harvard Business Review reported that around 70% of change initiatives fail. It makes sense then that 83% of CEOs say that substantial change is their biggest challenge – so much so that 28% of CEOs are fired because they mismanaged change.

People don’t like change. There’s some great brain research here that explains why. Hope is not lost, though. In spite of our addled brains, there are proven steps that organizations can take to make change easier. Curt Garbett from Red Tree Leadership & Development highlighted four ways to make change stick:
1.     Use tools like Yammer designed for dialogue, not for monologue.
2.     Empower employees. Give them a say in shaping the change.
3.     Turn your managers into change experts. Change Management is simple. Keep it simple.
4.     Don’t stop with managers – make change expertise a core value

Leadership Onboarding and Development
In a session led by Limor Benderly from Amdocs, a global provider of BSS, OSS, network control and digital services solutions, we learned about some of the challenges organizations face when onboarding senior leaders. We don’t often feel bad for senior leaders, but they have a pretty tough time after joining a new organization (just like the rest of us it seems!).

Organizations have zero patience for new leaders who need a ramp-up period. New leaders are expected to perform immediately because of the significant amount of resources invested in the recruiting process. Understanding the org structure, peers, teams, and strategic initiatives used to be easier when new leaders were all located at one headquarters. But that is no longer the reality for most leaders – they are spread out across the world.

Though Amdocs isn’t using Yammer to help onboard their senior leaders, I couldn’t help but think that a Yammer network could augment their existing onboarding program.

    • Get to know who’s who? Check.
    • Easily connect with other leaders and build critical relationships? Check.
    • Understand your team better; scroll through a history of conversations, files and notes in your team’s group? Check.

Organizations have already seen much success using Yammer to onboard employees. Improving the onboarding experience for senior leaders is a great next step.

Learning as an Evolution
How is your training organization meeting the demands of 21st century learners? How are you tackling mobile learning, informal learning, and knowledge curation? We’d love to hear your stories! Find the YES team on Twitter or join us in the ASTD Instructional Design Network.