It’s an opportunity to see how each staff member is contributing, collaborating and sharing their knowledge with the rest of the organisation on Microsoft Teams and Yammer.
If, for example, a senior leader is identified as an “Observer” by SWOOP based on their online behaviours on Teams and Yammer, they can be helped to improve their collaboration.
“As you move up in your career, we want more responses, more knowledge sharing, more thoughtful questions that turn into problems solved,” said Naomi Souza, Director of Presence and Assets at RealFoundations.
“We look at the SWOOP personas in these reviews because it’s really important to get out of people’s heads what they know and get that knowledge and those capabilities in a place where other people can learn from them and for us that’s Teams and Yammer.”
RealFoundations’ (RF) focus on the capture and dissemination of knowledge enables individual practitioners to easily and quickly tap into the always-improving knowledge and capabilities of every person who is working at the company, or has previously worked there, to deliver a better outcome for clients. This knowledge repository lies in Teams and Yammer.
They call it the “(rf)X Factor”. It’s this “working out loud” culture that differentiates RealFoundations in the competitive world of management consulting and managed services for real estate.
“If you’re a client of ours, you have the five or 10 people on your specific project team, but really and truly, because of our RF(x) you’ve got the collective knowledge of the entire enterprise,” Naomi said.
“It’s a primary differentiator for us. You’ve got these smart, capable people on the project team but also the 20+ years of accumulated knowledge and capabilities of our firm. And the ability for the people on a project team to tap into that knowledge and use it to accelerate results for a particular client.”
Traditionally, the real estate industry has been a slow adopter of new technologies but RealFoundations is an exception.
“We’re delivering these management consulting projects to clients today and they’re saying, ‘Wait a minute, how did you answer that question so quickly?’,” Naomi said.
“And in response, we are excited to have clients look over our shoulders as we work – we show them Teams and Yammer and how we can use those places to have rich conversations to solve problems with people across the globe.”
Ensuring every employee is sharing their knowledge
To keep an edge over competitors, RealFoundations relies on every employee to contribute their knowledge and it wanted a way to look holistically at practitioners’ “working out loud” habits.
Before introducing Teams, RealFoundations could see Yammer engagement with SWOOP for Yammer but lacked the complete picture. It needed analytics to help assess employees’ online collaboration performance on Teams at bi-annual reviews.
SWOOP for Teams provides a live dashboard of employees’ collaboration patterns on Teams, which allowed RealFoundations to report and coach employees on improving collaboration to strengthen the firm’s competitive advantage.
“We benchmark twice a year on Yammer with SWOOP and in our performance review process we say; ‘This person is an Engager, this person is a Responder, this person is a very senior person and they’re an Observer, we need to work on that’,” Naomi said.
“As Teams is now ‘the place’ where we at RealFoundations do our work, to be able to have that same data and personas in Teams is fantastic.
“With SWOOP for Teams, we now have a more complete view of practitioner contributions to our collective knowledge repositories.”
Introducing Microsoft Teams
RealFoundations began using Teams alongside Yammer in March 2017. It’s now become the collaboration hub for day-to-day work.
With Yammer already a key part of RealFoundations’ working out loud culture, there needed to be a clear definition as to what tool to use when.
Naomi said that line is now clearly defined.
Teams is where employees do their day to day work, with a defined group of people – their team.
Yammer is where you ask questions to find answers and share knowledge. It’s the company water cooler.
“Yammer is that virtual water cooler that you go to when you’re not quite sure who might benefit from the interaction or who might have the answer that you’re looking for,” Naomi said.
“With Teams we are saying it’s a defined group of people. You know the people you need to work with, you know exactly what you’re working on and generally there’s some sort of time limit on the team, although some teams will go on forever.”
Naomi is always interested to see her own “Most Engaging Post” from Yammer or Teams on the SWOOP dashboard and said it helps her learn what resonates with others.
Unlike Yammer, she said “likes” don’t seem to be as important in Teams but the use of @ mentions has resulted in a drop in email usage.
“We’re paying more attention to the @ mentions and realising that as you use this more, you’re not in your email, you’re always in Teams,” Naomi said.
“You can really pay attention to what you need to be engaging with. So, we’re more explicitly trying to @ mention people and encourage others to do the same.”
Much of Naomi’s team is based in Chennai, India, while she is based in Texas, US, along with other team members.
Regardless of where they are physically situated, the team works together every day, and every team member begins their day with a #WhatI’mDoingToday post on Teams. Every person knows exactly what everyone else is working on.
“I wake up every morning at 5am and I say; ‘What are my people in Chennai doing today? Does that look right? Okay, nobody is working on this, we need to get somebody on that’,” Naomi said.
“My team wakes up and they start doing the same thing. For every piece of work that we’re doing, whether it’s supporting a business development pursuit or working on an ad or posting on social media or teaching someone about Office 365, we have a thread, a conversation in Teams, where we say; ‘Okay, here’s what we’re working on’ and we’re tagging people to say; ‘Hey, you need to look at this.”
By doing this, every piece of work is captured in Teams. And it can be easily tracked with SWOOP.
“Everybody has the benefit of seeing what we’re working on and then when that thing is finished, that file lives there and we’ve got all of those documents organised really nicely to refer back to,” Naomi said.
SWOOP identified Naomi’s #WhatI’mDoingToday team as a Self-directed team and it was among the top 10 performing teams in SWOOP’s 2020 benchmarking of more than 5,300 Teams working in Microsoft Teams.
Do you behave differently on Teams and Yammer?
To investigate whether staff use of Teams was different to Yammer, Naomi selected a sample of 163 staff who were active on both platforms. What she found was the SWOOP personas between Yammer and Teams exactly matched for 44% of the selected staff.
More importantly, 69% of those classified with the aspirational “Engager” persona also sustained this persona inside Teams.
The majority of Yammer “Responders” had transitioned to be “Engagers” on Teams; a positive outcome.
In terms of activity, a high correlation between individual activity levels on Yammer and Teams was found, showing if you are highly active on Yammer, you will also be highly active on Teams and vice versa.
To test whether use of one platform was detrimental to the other, SWOOP compared the Yammer usage from 2018 against the same six-month period in 2019 and found the overall activity had increased by 12%.
The interactivity levels on Teams is about double that on Yammer, so it is definitely the case that more collaboration is happening overall when both tools are utilised.