A customer posted this on our Yammer External Network*:
"Staff often attend our training classes, go back to their environment, never review or practice what they’ve learned, and then at some point, find themselves in a position of needing their training.
“After such an event has passed, they'll report that the program doesn't work! They don’t realize it’s because they tried to muster up a version of what they could remember from a class they took weeks or months ago and never referred to after that.
“So when I’m conducting a training class, I use a personal analogy to help drive home the importance of practice.
“Recently, I received a guitar as a gift. I’d never played before.
“I ask the class, ‘Should I expect to take it out of its case and immediately start playing a Bon Jovi song?’
“The class immediately conveys that they think I’m a nitwit for even mentioning it.
“I ask, ‘What if I get an instructor to teach me in an 8-hour class [which is how long the class I’m teaching is]? Should I then expect to be able to play “You Give Love a Bad Name” note-perfect?’
“The class once again lets me know that this is not a reasonable expectation at all.
“So then I ask, ‘What if, after either of these times, I get upset and toss the guitar away, claiming that this guitar stuff just doesn’t work?’
“The class informs me that I need to spend time practicing consistently if I want to be able to play songs like that.
“At that point, I reflect this answer back to them in regard to the training and skill they can’t just learn about once and then never practice or review again.”
This is just one of the many insightful posts we are fortunate to get from our busy customers—insight that happens to be housed in a single-stop platform and is instantly accessible to everyone in the network.
Our Yammer customer community is a living archive that serves up relevant content right when you need it, no matter when you join. I see this happen just about every day, with customers helping each other and our own staff talking about the same things back in our home network.
This particular post with the guitar analogy also reminded me of all the "Yammer doesn’t work" laments. The top two consistent responses I’ve received when digging into those laments are:
I’m now adding a third:
It’s not an uncommon trait to want something to start working immediately. Whether it’s due to unrealistic expectations or a need for instant gratification, we get frustrated, we have other things to do, we don’t want to waste time.
Online or off, we resent things that we feel aren’t helping us, even things we don’t actually know enough about yet to warrant such a feeling.
But the time and effort you put into learning about that unknown thing could make all the difference between an enriching experience and an echoing emptiness. We took a chance in 2014 when we launched first our Home Network and then our External Network, and it required these three things:
We had to be willing to reach inside the case, bring out this unknown instrument, and start experimenting and exploring with it.
We had to train ourselves to use it and keep using it--not just on the relatively intuitive basics, but how to work with something that was going to change our corporate culture, while knowing this change would be reflected outward.
We had to realize that Yammer was an instrument made of voices, and these voices would fall into rusty disuse if they weren’t nurtured.
And now we can look back on years of rich content and insight, and look forward to years of more.
You can open up that guitar case, but the guitar won’t magically start playing your company’s greatest hits for you. Get learning, keep practicing, and watch how the songs write themselves.
*Shared with permission, albeit assiduously edited. Here’s my company in case you’re curious.
Becky is a 3rd-year Microsoft Office Apps & Services MVP. At the Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI), she manages strategic collaboration, content, and community through Yammer, Teams, and SharePoint. She's presented at Microsoft Ignite and various user groups, and mentors Yammer admins around the world.
Becky is also a published children's book author. "The Squeezor is Coming!" is her latest book, with a fourth book coming out in 2019.
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