Use Yammer In Your Training Programs

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Social media has empowered not only your consumers, but also your employees. Today’s employees are hyper-connected and have access to resources and information via social media. How do you engage them at work? How are you attracting and retaining your best talent? Are you developing them by giving them the tools to be successful? An excerpt from this Gallop report your workers may not be as engaged as you think…

“Seventy-one percent of American workers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in their work, meaning they are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and are less likely to be productive. That leaves nearly one-third of American workers who are “engaged,” or involved in and enthusiastic about their work and contributing to their organizations in a positive manner.”

So how do you develop your employees? Do you have a communication skills course at your organization? What about a problem solving skills or leadership development program? How about training program for Project Managers? Unfortunately, most training programs – at least the ones I’ve been to – aren’t great at keeping the attention of its students. How do you keep the participants engaged in the training they are attending? Training can be part of onboarding or continuing professional education; whatever the training class is, you need to find the answer to these questions.

One great way to boost engagement and keep it elevated is through training activities. Within your established programs you might already have pre and post training activities. For example, you might send an email including a case study and pre-work that must be completed before your new sales team enters the session.  A few years ago, I was in a Time Management class and the trainer sent a worksheet for us to record everything we did for our workday leading up to the class. During the Time Management class we walked through our findings and decided what was important and what was not adding value to our daily workflow.  Other trainings classes I have taught or been apart of we have done white board activities, worksheets, or other games during the session to get the audience involved with learning.  And these are all great but what about weeks after the training, where do they go for information?

A huge opportunity for Learning and Development is to continue the conversation after the training program has ended. Learning doesn’t stop just because your training program has finished and the associates are back in the “real-world”. So how do you keep the conversation going and encourage associates to come back to the content when they need it most? You may have thought about using your social platform to lay the groundwork for ongoing engagement; we do hope that platform is Yammer! With different features within Yammer you can add elements to your training programs to keep the learning going before and after the training event.

Here are a few examples of how our customers are using Yammer in their training programs:

  • Invite members of the class to a Group to get to know each other before the training event begins. This is also a great way to gage your audience before they are Face to Face – less time with introduction and more getting into the meat. One customer I worked with did this and even tweaked her agenda based on what the audience was talking about prior to the training event.
  • Keep the conversation going after the training – continue to provoke conversation and encourage your group to post their questions around the training topic after the event has ended. Another customer used the Questions app so that questions are kept track of and answered quickly for their group of associates.
  • Move your in-class, white-boarding and brainstorming activities to Yammer. A customer loved the way that Yammer made their old flipchart sessions searchable after the event. She mentioned that it encourages people who might normally not participate in a training activity to participate. She also had a “reporter” during the training session Live-Yam their notes so that people could search the content later.
  • If you do a lot of webinars or online learning, engage your remote workers by having spot checks they can do in real-time on Yammer, such as a Poll or share their opinions about the training topic by starting the conversation.
  • Pages provide a space for real-time collaboration for training sessions for sticky content. One customer had his training class write out steps for their workflow and created a class-generated FAQ.

Training managers can start by adding Yammer into their course by weaving them into to the design.  For example, customers have used Yammer for a simple ice-breaker for their training courses, such as “What do you already know about…?”. Other customers have used Yammer to collect all the resources for the courses in one place to easily find after the You can pin important content, links and other resources for the associates to easily find within your training Group on Yammer. Pick a few activities to “Yammer-ize” as you start and build more as you learn what works best in Yammer. Just remember to align what you are doing in Yammer to the course objectives and goals. It’s not enough just to add  “social” in the course if its not relevant to the objectives.

So, what do you do to keep the learners engaged after the event? How do you keep the conversation going? What are you doing today with social in your learning environments? Are you using Yammer for your training programs? Tell us about it!

Photo credit: Night Owl City

  1. We have recently started to use Yammer to facilitate case study exercises with trainees, ahead of virtual classroom sessions in which they further discuss the cases and lessons learned. The case study detail is uploaded into a group as a file and the facilitator poses some initial questions.

    We have just kicked off our third such discussion.

    We’ve been impressed by how Yammer discussions have allowed our learners to explore the case studies in greater detail, how the facilitator has been able to draw out a much wider range of learning points and how the conversations have enabled everyone to deepen their understanding way beyond the original learning objectives. The facilitator is also able to contribute more first-hand real-world experiences too, in response to invididual postings, which has improved the overall transfer of learning aspects.

    • Wow Tim! These are great ideas for facilitators! I love the ideas of sharing case studies and having the exercises ahead of time and continuing the conversation. We are glad that you are impressed, but I think we (Yammer) are more impressed by the ways our customers integrate Yammer into their workflow. Keep up the great work Tim!

  2. Cathy Rodriguez

    Nice article. I have started incorporating Yammer in all my classes. Before the course begins, I send them a welcome email. In the email it restates the course objectives and also lists any tools we will be using in the course which includes Yammer. I then tell them to go join Yammer if they haven’t already and that I will be sending them an invite to the course group on Yammer where we will hold all class discussions.

    I then create a post on Yammer again welcoming them and asking them to introduce themselves and tell a little bit about themselves and what they would like to gain from the course. This then lets me tailor the course content to the specific class.

    Throughout the class, I post content relevant to what we are working on that week. Often times it will be a link to an article and then try to get the conversation going around that article.

    I’m really just getting started with using Yammer so I keep trying to improve my classes and Yammer is providing a great avenue for that.

    Since I’m at a university that has 5000 faculty/staff, it is often times hard to reach our audience and find out what their real needs are. So I’m also working on ways to get people to join Yammer so I can become part of their day everyday!

    Thanks for the post Allison. You are always very helpful!

    • Cathy! Thanks for your comment! These are great practical ways to use Yammer and grateful that you shared them with the community. You have provided some ideas for keeping the engagement and conversation going outside of the training class using Yammer. Have you done a pulse check with your students, to see what they think about it? Would be interested to see how your class compares to the other ones they participate in. Some organization include Yammer invites within their new hire (student) orientation. So that people are connected from Day 1.

      Great work Cathy!

  3. Phil Andersson

    Hi guys,

    We’ve used Yammer effectively as part of our Capability Development offering at Deloitte Australia. It was a great tool to help drive our pre & post interaction for a New Senior Analyst workshop.

    Some of the key benefits from using Yammer in our experience:

    – Ability to create a sense of ‘community’ amongst the delegate group – the actual delivery day of the workshop involved participants flying in from around the country. Using Yammer allowed participants to connect prior to arriving on the actual day. A great tool to begin networking as soon as possible.
    – Allowed us to check for understanding prior to the event – we ran a poll on what the delegates most wanted to hear from the guest speakers.
    – Provide feedback from earlier sessions – as we ran a few sessions at various locations we could build momentum in the program by sharing feedback from delegates who had already attended the day.
    – Share information about the session including pre work, agenda and what to expect.
    – Post follow up articles and pose questions to see how the delegates are tracking with the key learning’s.

    We are still learning some great lessons on how to drive the learning experience and always looking to add to the connectivity of our offerings and our participants.

    • Thank you so much for sharing this with us! Happy to see that you are using Yammer to develop your biggest assets — your employees!

      – Maria

  4. I ask participants to share action plans and actions they took after the course to inspire their fellow participants

    • Great approach! Keeping the conversation going after is essential to success.

  5. Alex Ford

    More of a question than comment …
    just wondering if people are making separate “groups” for each cohort that goes through the same program? ie. so that each cohort experiences the learning together and the group is more intimate? I can also see benefits of having all past participants of a particular training program in the one ‘group’ ultimately – a bit of an internal ‘alumni’ for ongoing development …
    what are your thoughts?

    • Like Alex I would be interested to know if it’s possible to create separate cohorts for each program that delegates go through, has anyone experienced doing these? Also any advice how to bring in people outside of your Company Group into the conversations, such as external trainers?

      • Great question. You can bring people with external emails into your network if you are using the premium version of the product. However, please keep in mind that they not only will be part of one group, but part of your entire network and all the public groups therein. If you want to collaborate with external parties in a separate space, you should use an External Network.

        • Thanks Maria. I guess we may have to upgrade 🙂
          What’s your advice @ managing separate groups / cohorts for specific training interventions…..not sure if it’s manageable to have a unique group for every type of learning. Recommendations?

          • Hi Chris and Alex – Thanks for your comments. You both asked about about creating groups for each type of cohort or session. And well there isn’t a “right” answer because it depends! It depends on the information that you are sharing with each group. Will they benefit from learning from previous groups? Or does the group need to think on their own? How long are they expected to communicate after the course is over? My suggestion is to use a specific group for the actual course or session and then have another group they can join after they have “passed” or completed the course. This “alumni” group might be a great idea for them to continue to learn and for you see how far they have come.

            I hope that helps!

            PS. You might think that having so many groups is a bad thing, but its really easy to manage Yammer groups. Plus it gives your students the walls they might need to feel comfortable in sharing. Would love to hear about what you are doing! Please share! I

  6. can somone elaborate on using yammer for learning and development e.g. trainning and learning purposes

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