27 Jul

Rewire How Information is Shared and Consumed in Your Organization with Yammer Groups

By in Tips & Guides on July 27, 2012

Our various interests, responsibilities and lifestyle choice determine the ways we choose to divide our time, efforts and activities. These natural divisions help us share portions of our lives with the right set of people, and in turn consume portions of their lives. Similarly, our activities and conversations at work are also divided into distinct areas — by projects, teams,  initiatives or general interests. Finding the most effective way to share relevant information with the right groups of people can be daunting. Yammer Groups provide a natural platform that allow you to share, learn and collaborate with the right colleagues in just a few basic steps. A Yammer Group that is created with a specific purpose, goals and objectives, is extremely effective in helping you and your team stay connected.

Before you create a group

Before you dive in and create your group, it is important to assess if a group is indeed the right course of action.  Browsing through your Groups Directory will bring light to which groups already exist on the network, helping avoid group dilution and confusion, caused by creation of repetitive groups. Once you’ve verified the need for your group, there are still a couple more points to consider. The Social What has laid out three great questions to ask before creating your group:

Creating your group

Once you’re ready to set up a group, the actual group creation is a cinch. Along the left hand side of your Yammer home screen, you will see a plus sign with a “create group” option.

The next step is to determine the settings and group information:

Choose the owner and administrator

In a premium network, the person who creates a group is automatically the group administrator and “owner” of the group. To ensure you have the right person administering your group, it is important to understand what being a Group Administrator involves. Nicky Hayward-Wright Senior Advisor, Knowledge Management of  GS1 Australia, shared her thoughts on what it means to be a group administrator:

  • Determining basic group settings (as laid out below)
  • If you specify the option ‘Require new members to be approved by me’ the admin must need approve or deny requests to join the group.
  • Make new members feel welcome and encourage group engagement
  • Moderate conversations if required
  • Provide basic Yammer support to the group and escalate to Network Administrator if required
  • Manage document storage
  • Mine the conversations for useful information and knowledge, pass them onto relevant people
  • Cross-pollinate conversations into other groups when appropriate
  • Add topics (tag, keyword) to a conversation without topics, so it can be more easily retried/found
  • Provide group statistics depending on the type of group you have set up
  • Move, close or archive the group when it has lived its life
  • Pages can easily be used to upload meeting minutes, action items, and agendas.

Determine Group Settings

Internal Group or External Network An Internal Group is used to collaborate with colleagues inside your existing Yammer network. An External Network is a separate network built off of your “home” Yammer network – it’s usually used to collaborate and connect with those outside of your company.

Name and description – Make sure the name of your group is clear enough so those searching can find the group on the network. The description should provide more insight into the group’s purpose and goals. Make sure to use the Info tab to share more information about the group, its purpose and processes, outline member responsibilites and highlight the type of person that should join the group.

Public or Private status – A public group is open and available for all members of your Yammer network to join. Public groups are perfect for projects and initiatives that require cross-functional collaboration throughout the organization. Public groups also allow  all interested employees to discover content within the group and use it in their own work. A public group can have open or restricted membership. Anyone can join a public open group and have its updates deliver to his / her Yammer feed. A restricted public group has publicly accessbile content, but this content will not deliver to people’s feeds; membership in this type of group must be approved by the group admin.

Private groups are just that: private. Content within a private group is only available to members of the group, which are admitted via the group admin. At Yammer, we highly encourage the use of public groups. Our culture and product was created to make work more transparent, open and sharable in order to drive business transformation . While a private group can be useful for sensitive information, we urge you to consider public as a default for topics that are not sensitive. If you change your mind later on, Yammer allows for toggling of a group from public to private, and back.

Invite people

If you invite the right people, they will invite others, and soon your group will begin growing organically. Make sure you’re inviting members who will have a vested interest in growing the group and contributing meaningfully.

Using Groups

Set the tone

Creating a group charter is important to outline the goals, expectations, purpose and roles of the of the group, from the very beginning. In the info tab of the group, clearly define key goals, roles of various members and deeper information about the group’s purpose. You may also want to create a Page, outlining group goals and objectives, and encourage group members to add their suggestions to the page. This will illustrate, through action, that the group is a place for collaborative sharing and co-creation among all members. If the group is centered around a project or initiative, begin uploading relevant files and documents to the group — this way, all members will have access to the content they need. Starting the conversation in a group can be difficult when it is in its infancy. As you invite members to the group, welcome everyone and ask for them to provide a status update to the group. This will encourage participation from the beginning and immediately provide insight into other member’s activities.

Keep the Pulse Alive

Maintaining up-to-date content and relevant information is key for the vitality of your Yammer group. Do this by utilizing some of the features available for groups, such as these:

  • Pages can easily be used to upload meeting minutes, action items, and agendas.
  • Events can be used to give notice of meetings and important dates.
  • Announcements can be used to broadcast information to the whole group.

Encourage group members to share weekly or daily status updates on projects to provide transparency into individuals’ activities. Weening collegues off of the “reply all” email habit, may be a challenge at first, but understanding what to post and where (tips here) can certainly help. When you upload information, questions, and files to Yammer, these resources are automatically available for the rest of the organization. This open sharing of information reduces duplication of work and reinforces serendipitous discovery of content.

Mine the group conversations for relevant and insightful conversations to share with other areas of the organization. Cross-pollinate useful information as much as possible; this allows for other areas of the organization to have a better view into your group’s work.

Maintaining Healthy Groups

In order to maintain the group as a place that members continue to use, some basic management and moderation may be required. Files and content within your Yammer group should be fresh and updated on a regular basis. With Yammer Files, a previously updated file can easily be replaced with the newest version, to ensure access to the most recent information.

Inevitably, some groups on Yammer may become stale or may overlap with others in objectives and purpose. However, the content in these groups may still be applicable or useful for the organization. Instead of deleting an entire group and its content, consider working to save the information. One option is to consolidate the relevant files and pages to another active group. In order to keep old group discussions organized and accessible to all, just change the group name and info tab to “Inactive group”.

Yammer groups are without a doubt, one of the best ways to solicit many-to-many conversations with your team members. If you approach group creation and management in a thoughtful way, your group can become a highly successful mechanism for managing activities, providing transparency into everyone’s work and enabling better decision making by eliminating blindspots.

6 Responses to Rewire How Information is Shared and Consumed in Your Organization with Yammer Groups

  1. Jim says:

    Noticed in a Yammer Group that the administrator added me to I have a green dot next to my name in list of members…others have a gray dot???? Significance…couldn’t seem to find any info online explaining the status.

    • Maria says:

      Great question! Green dot means that person is now online, logged into his / her Yammer account. Grey dot means they are not logged in.

      Hope this helps!

      – Maria

  2. Ewoud says:

    ah so I found it, watching over the shoulder with the administrator !

  3. Jane Leonard says:

    Great piece that should be read by anyone thinking of introducing a tool such as Yammer.
    The most often neglected areas is the 3 Questions especially clarify the groups purpose. there is always the danger of creating new silos and walled gardens withing closed or private groups .

  4. Molly B says:

    My organization just converted to Yammer from LISTSERV. Our members are still getting used the changes. It appears our relatively small network (~300 ppl) has taken to creating sub groups in an attempt to categorize their emailed news feeds. Is this common? Any good tips? I will continue to read/learn about feeds, tagging, main feed vs. groups, etc.

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