The power of authentic leadership

“You can smell a corporate comms post from a mile away,” says ANZ Bank’s Social Business Development Manager, Ryan Crocker.

“It’s always just too perfect and it doesn’t come across as authentic.”

Ryan Crocker, Social Business Development Manager, ANZ

On the contrary, when a leader genuinely shares personal updates, asks questions or posts a photo on a company’s internal communication platform, people can tell it’s them – that’s how genuine two-way relationships are built.

“More important than posting, is listening. Leaders can only listen effectively if they do it themselves,” Ryan said.

“Leaders need to listen and look at what people are talking about. If they don’t take the time to listen first, it’s kind of like rocking up to a party two hours late, walking up to a group of people talking about the latest Netflix drama and chiming in with a story about your cat’s new pyjamas.

“That’s not exactly engaging.”

At ANZ, one of Australia’s big four banks and New Zealand’s biggest bank, CEO Shayne Elliott is a leader who shows authenticity and listens to his employees.

The post below is an example of Shayne doing exactly that. Ryan tells the story that Shayne was at a leadership conference where they were talking about sustainability and the importance of it to ANZ.

“So he picked up his phone, jumped on the Environmental Sustainability group on our Yammer network and said; ‘We’ve made really good progress recycling coffee cups, what else can we do to make it easier for us to be more sustainable?’,” Ryan said.

The replies came flooding in.

“People came up with all sorts of suggestions of things that we could do,” Ryan said.

“Our branches in NZ, who had only been on Yammer for a couple of weeks at this point, started using Yammer to swap items like coin trays and brochure stands.

“A few weeks later our Environmental Sustainability team had re-designed the signage for our bins in Head Office to make it easier for staff to recycle more. The team also started running ‘waste tours’ to educate staff on how they can be more sustainable.

“It was a great post. It had the question, it was authentic, it was meaningful and Shayne jumped back in and engaged with people.”

Pooja Jerajani, Group Community Manager, ANZ

Pooja Jerajani, ANZ’s Group Community Manager, said the post, along with a Plastic Free July campaign on the company’s Yammer network and further conversation from senior leaders, has led to a noticeable cultural shift.

“People now call each other out on Yammer when they see single use plastic promotional items, more and more of our events are now planned with sustainability in mind, and Yammer is helping employees share and reuse resources,” she said.

Data from SWOOP Analytics shows Shayne Elliott is always among the top 10 most influential people on ANZ’s Yammer network of more than 38,000 people. That means that while he’s not the most prolific poster or commentator, he initiates conversations, he gets people talking and sharing and he listens to what his people are saying.

“That’s what we talk to all our senior leaders about; we can suggest conversations they may be interested in jumping into, but we can’t do the listening for them, they have to do that, they have to be on the platform,” Ryan said.

“They have to be liking, they have to be responding before they can just jump in and expect people to reply to their conversations. It takes just five minutes a day to build up genuine engagement and connect with people at scale.”

ANZ’s Yammer network has been recognised as one of the best in the world in SWOOP’s 2019 Global Benchmarking of Yammer networks. It’s an impressive result for such a large network that launched Yammer only a year earlier, in September 2018.

Shayne Elliott, CEO, ANZ

Launching Yammer at ANZ

ANZ had outgrown its first enterprise social network (ESN) tool, which was being used by only 19 per cent of staff, often as a broadcasting channel rather than a collaboration tool.

Before deciding on its next ESN platform, ANZ conducted in-depth research to what appealed most to employees and decided upon Yammer.

Ryan and Pooja said employees wanted a place that was authentic and safe, provided functionality and features they needed such as being mobile friendly, ease of use, and integrated into other workplace applications.

Speaking with different parts of the business and different leaders to understand business challenges, priorities, blockers and opportunities was central to ANZ’s Yammer soft launch strategy.

“We then helped them build Yammer group strategies to support achieving business outcomes, with the idea of building meaningful and ongoing collaboration, rather than starting with a big-bang only to see engagement drop off after the honeymoon period,” Ryan said.

“If Yammer feels like an extra thing that you have to do and you haven’t got time to do it, then you’re probably not using it in the right way, or perhaps don’t need to use it. It should be something that helps you do your job, and it’s important to realise it might not be for everyone.

“Leaders definitely play a critical role in promoting engagement. People are active on Yammer if their leaders are active – the data shows a direct correlation.

“Some of our leaders took to Yammer like a duck to water, this included our CEO, our deputy CEO, and our Group Executive for Technology. They immediately saw the value in using Yammer to connect and engage with our people at scale.”

All three are always among the most influential people on the network, SWOOP data shows, and there’s a bit of healthy competition between them.

Using Yammer for business value

One of the biggest advocates for Yammer at ANZ is Group Executive, Technology, Gerard Florian. Ryan said Gerard doesn’t limit his connections to the technology-themed group but engages across the whole Yammer network.

“In the beginning he was even better at spotting good conversations than us!” Ryan said.

And it results in better outcomes for employees and customers.

Soon after Yammer went live at ANZ an employee in a branch posted, advising their systems were running slowly. Dozens and dozens more people replied, commenting they too were having the same problem.

“Gerard responded, without prompting, to apologise and assure people that his team were on to it,” Ryan said.

“He used Yammer as a tool to keep people updated but also to get real-time feedback from our branch staff to better understand the sorts of impacts the issue was having.”

The issue was resolved much faster and more transparently thanks to Yammer.

The right information at the right place at the right time 

One thing ANZ employees really value about Yammer is the ease in which they can receive important, timely updates, right into the palm of their hand.

The Yammer team partnered with Business and Technology teams to embed Yammer into ANZ’s incident communications strategy, to complement established processes that used existing communication channels.

“What this means is if things go wrong we now have the power to get a mobile notification and email instantly out to all 38,000 Yammer users by simply using the announcement feature,” Ryan said.

“The data, as well as verbatim feedback from employees, shows how much of a role Yammer is playing in connecting our organisation.”

Connecting geographically dispersed employees

ANZ has employees working right across the globe, from rural branches across Australia and NZ to offices throughout Asia and Europe.

“Yammer allows employees to connect with each other, ask questions about literally anything, share knowledge and give each other advice,” Ryan said.

“ANZ’s Home Lenders are dispersed across Australia and their group on Yammer is one of my favourites, employees use it a bit like a brains trust to solve problems which in turns help us serve customers.

“Say, I’m a banker in Wagga Wagga and I’m facing a bit of a challenge with something, I’ve accessed our existing knowledge base resources but now I want to sound it out with a real person, I can share in the group and say; ‘Hey, I’ve got this situation, what do you guys think is the best way to tackle it?’

“Then they might connect with another Home Lender on the other side of the country and workshop a solution.”

Showing the value of Yammer with SWOOP

Analytics from SWOOP are vital in encouraging the right behaviours on ANZ’s Yammer network.

“I think I could go a day without having access to email but I don’t think I could go a day without having access to SWOOP,” Ryan said.

“It takes out all the guess work and it’s so powerful.”

Ryan said it can be nerve-wracking heading into a stakeholder meeting knowing you have to challenge and influence key people but being armed with data from SWOOP really makes a difference.

“The data helps us tell a really compelling story that’s so much more powerful than just presenting advice and insights based solely on our own judgment,” Ryan said.

One common question Ryan gets is; “How do I know it’s all worth the effort and I’m building real relationships with people?”

He uses SWOOP to look at the network map and finds most people are surprised that after only posting or liking on Yammer a couple of times they are already making valuable connections.

“This really helps people find the value,” Ryan said.

Another common question the Yammer team hear is; “How do I know my team is actually using it? I’m not even sure they are?”

“SWOOP can not only tell us if particular teams are using Yammer or not but also where they are engaging the most. Based on this we can provide really clear advice,” Ryan said.

Australia New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) was founded in 1835 and is the seventh largest company in Australia and the largest bank in New Zealand.

You can download the full SWOOP Analytics 2019 Global Yammer Benchmarking report and participate in anonymous benchmarking to see how your organisation compares with the world’s best.

Subscribe To the SWOOP Newsletter

Join our mailing list, we regulary keep you up to date on the latest industry insights and research into Enteprise collaboration.

Thanks for Subscribing to SWOOP's newsletter