Yammer: Conversations That Work


This morning, I read Peter Furtado’s article, Yammer—Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty?

I was considering as my blog post title, “Yammer Has Never Been a Cinderella Or a Sleeping Beauty” or, more succinctly, “Yammer—It Aten’t Dead.” (tm Terry Pratchett)

I mean, I get it: If you haven’t ever used Yammer, or if you set it up once and let it languish, you may well believe the platform is useless if not mostly dead.

But Yammer never has been useless or even close to dead, and from the looks of it, isn’t going to be anytime soon.

Microsoft Ignite 2017 revealed some pretty awesome enhancements for Yammer, both in itself and in relation to further integration with the Office 365 suite.  We were all a bit excited about them, believe me. . .


Yammer peeps at Ignite 2017

. . .and I do appreciate how Furtado urges people to give Yammer another chance, up to and including negating expensive third-party platforms if you’re already a Microsoft shop. I can’t be certain, but he could even be pro-Yammer, or at least pro-change-your-perception.

Still, a couple of the points raised in the article are oft mentioned and just don’t fit with my personal Yammer experience. Even without my own proven, practical applications, these perceptions could adversely affect people thinking of trying it for themselves, even with the enhancements.

To wit:

  • Yammer is about conversation, not actually getting work done.

I know that Microsoft Teams is the big thing, and much is said about inner and outer loops, with “inner” being akin to the typical circle of people you email or get in a meeting room with to collaborate—Teams—and “outer” being when you bring in others for diversity and effective change—Yammer. There’s an excellent presentation about this here.

What I want to get across is that conversation works. Because it’s never just “talking.” It’s learning. It’s growing. It’s sharing: Words, ideas, files, final outcomes.

And that’s where the perception that Yammer is just, well, yammering, can be so damaging.

We use Yammer both for small work groups and for all-company work groups. We use it for discovery about ourselves and what affects the company. We use it for our customers, who in turn use it to make their daily lives and jobs more effective and the people they serve safer.

Because you never know who knows something.

All of this is getting work done. As with my next point to address:

  • Yammer hasn’t done well with collaboration in the past.

Yammer’s always been great for collaboration. From topic to department to project groups, Yammer is filled with people learning about each other beyond just their job descriptions and titles. The only dead thing about Yammer is it makes it dead easy to have this open, collaborative culture! /bad pun

As for bigger things, we put an entire marketing campaign on Yammer from start to finish, brainstorming, files, conversations, all in one, up to the launch of the campaign–and then we came back to discuss what worked and what didn’t. This campaign is still there for anyone in the company to see and learn from.

Building on a prior enhancement to allow co-creation of any Office doc and accessing OneDrive files, Yammer will now be richly integrated with SharePoint and vice versa.

So it’s not so much that Yammer didn’t “work” before, but that integration will help even more.

But here’s the thing that doesn’t seem to be brought up in most of these articles with the tone of, “Yammer’s still here?”

You need to be there. You need to pay attention. You have to remember this is about people, not about the platform.

So whether this takes the form of a single community manager or a team of volunteers, your Yammer network—not Yammer itself, and that’s an important distinction—will indeed die without nurturing, especially at the beginning (unless you are extremely lucky).

Fortunately, even networks that have died can be resurrected.

Interested in learning how to run a successful network?

Yammer: Meet Offline, Take Note Online

There’s a big part of Yammer that works seamlessly whether you’re interacting with people within your own company or among many companies around the world.

And that’s bringing a meeting back offline.


Okay, this is a Teddy Bear’s Picnic, but it’s still a meeting. With food. And bears.

Yammer has never been intended to replace every aspect of your company culture in general or job in particular. Yammer is an enhancement, a supplement, a way to make things more efficient, a way to make things easier.

And sometimes that means still having those actual meetings, with this additional step: Take those meeting notes right in Yammer!


Here’s why I like this tool: Yammer Notes auto-save as you type, so you never have to worry about a sudden power outage or keyboard incident. Multiple people can collaborate on one Note at the same time. Everyone’s changes are color-coded so you can instantly see who said what and what got added.

I had occasion both to do and to witness this in action this week. I wouldn’t even say that my own company culture lends itself to using Yammer Notes, but I have personally found them invaluable, especially in my position where I make How-To guides.

When you have a platform that enhances itself periodically, being able to update your tutorials easily is a boon!


Simon Terry & Life-Affirming Work

So by now we’ve been told that “do what you love” isn’t the answer to everything, nor is it even feasible, nor is it even healthy—whether you buy into the preceding because of the idea that employers will use that to exploit you or that you still have to pay your bills while you’re chasing that dream.

Pretty glum, huh?


That’s why I like Simon Terry’s post, From Life-crushing to Life-affirming Work.

Because guess what: It is possible. It just takes more than yourself to do it.

“I believe the critical challenge for organisations as we move into the future of work is how to use learning, leadership and collaboration to create more life-affirming workplaces and work,” writes Simon, adding, “Calling hierarchical leaders to explain their actions is not a step taken lightly.”

Want the steps involved? Go to From Life-crushing to Life-affirming Work right now.

Did I mention Simon is also a Microsoft MVP?