How to communicate effectively with your whole team? A question that has plagued execs since there were corporates. And the bigger they get the bigger the plague.
Today I sat down with Gerry Skerrit, Managing Director of Dream Team Catalyst, probably South Africa’s premier Team Building company. With their head office in Midrand they have 20 staff including 4 in their Cape Town office.
I discovered a couple weeks ago that they use a social media platform for their internal social interaction and communication called Yammer. Since I’ve been billing myself as a social media expert I was embarrassed to admit that I had not heard of it till then. But what a revelation!
So much focus of social media marketing and business application of the platform is brand interaction with its customers. But a major stumbling block in implementing a strategy is how to get all employees and departments singing off the same sheet. The answer is as obvious as it is profound: Your internal company structure needs to go social!
Yammer is essentially a Facebook type platform but it is only open to the employees of a company. This is enforced through the company email domain. Only people with your company email address can join the network.
I asked Gerry how this has benefited the Dream Team. “Everyone feels a part of the team. Our Cape Town office often felt isolated because they didn’t always know what we were doing. With Yammer they are in the loop constantly. And being an instant platform there is no lag in information.” There is a Yammer smart phone app which is what makes it instant so even when staff are on the road they can interact with their colleagues and be informed and, of course, engage themselves.
Gerry emphasizes that it is a fun platform where staff can interact, post pictures and poke a bit of fun at each other. I was amazed to learn that they have been using it for 18 months – that’s some impressive forward thinking.
When I asked him why Dream Team went this way his answer was also blindingly obvious – being a team building company he says “we realise that the medicine we dispense [team building] is also good for us. We must have a good sense of ourselves as a team and Yammer has made this easier.”
Although they do still make use of an internal email system for “chunkier” communications Gerry is very definite when he says that going social internally has revolutionised the company’s communication and there is no going back. The longer they use it the more it has become an integral part of the every day workflow.
The vibe of the Dream Team office reflects this socialness. It’s easy going and people appear to be enjoying their work. This may have a lot to do with Gerry’s infectious jovial nature but the focus on social engagement in the office must surely help.
But what about a company that has a far greater workforce? In a few weeks I will be interviewing someone who is implementing Yammer in a company that has 6500 employees across the country. It’s an old established company and she took the cowboy approach of setting it up without the proper clearances. So far 10% of staff have joined the network. I can’t wait to see the waves of change that is generating.
Does your company have any kind of internal social media platform? What have been your experiences?