For global drinks company Diageo, the makers of Johnnie Walker, Bailey’s, Guinness, Smirnoff, J&B and many more spirit and beer brands, it’s all about leading by example.
Chief Executive Officer Ivan Menezes gets it. He knows that to keep his employees, who are scattered across the globe, communicating, connecting and innovating, he needs to lead the charge.
Menezes is the top influencer on Diageo’s Yammer network, according to data from SWOOP Analytics. That means that while he’s not the most prolific poster or commentator, he initiates conversations, he gets people talking and sharing which ultimately leads to innovation, more sales and a boost to the company’s bottom line.
Diageo launched its Yammer network four years ago and every Sunday night since, Menezes has posted a blog on Yammer talking about his week – what he’s done, who he’s met, what’s ahead, what needs to be addressed. He shares photos, earnings reports, asks employees for their ideas, their input.
The 30,000+ users on the Diageo Yammer network love it. The worker at the distillery in France has a direct connection to the chief executive, as does the salesperson in New York and the office worker in Melbourne. “As soon as Ivan posts, he’s getting a response,” said Diageo’s Employee Engagement Channel Manager Ruth Kirkup. Ivan is a catalyst for the Yammer community.
Executive sponsorship of an enterprise social network (ESN) is the No.1 priority if you want engaged staff. “It’s all about getting your leaders to walk the talk,” Kirkup said.
The second step to a successful Yammer network, according to Kirkup, is communicating. Ensuring leadership messages, news, things that would have previously been sent in an email, are all now on Yammer, as well as making sure every internal communications campaign has some Yammer element to it.
Kirkup said training staff to use Yammer was another must-do on her list. This means training every internal communications lead on community management in Yammer, training the top 120 leaders and their personal assistants, and providing self-help to every employee on the company intranet.
SWOOP shows who is connecting with whom, which teams and departments are collaborating, it shows every employee’s online behaviorsRii, identifies influencers, assesses the levels of engagement between executives and frontline staff.
SWOOP’s benchmarking of companies with more than 15,000 employees worldwide puts Diageo in No.1 spot as the most engaged Yammer network, with 38% of people actively posting, replying and liking messages, many of whom are not in desk jobs.
Kirkup’s goal is to raise this to 50 per cent and she feels the company is on track, with 2,400 active groups – 390 new groups added in 2017.
Diageo uses Yammer for a group campaign every month including promotion of events like St Patrick’s Day, International Bailey’s Day, International Scotch Day where employees are challenged to buy someone they don’t know a scotch and post photos on Yammer with the hashtag #LoveScotch, and #ProudOfWhatWeDo to encourage employees to share what makes them proud to work for Diageo.
“Yammer engagement has been a steady rise,” said Kirkup, adding that it was vital to keep up executive participation after the initial launch of the network.
Additionally, Diageo has stock in warehouses all over the world. Some of this is surplus stock which carries the name SLOBS, for slow moving and obsolete stock. Of course, the company wants to transfer its SLOBS into sales. It set its sales team a challenge to reduce SLOBS by 25 per cent.
The team turned to Yammer and set up a group called The SLOBS Swap Shop. Now every salesperson anywhere in the world could connect with warehouses or other sales personnel in search of what they were looking for. There may be an excess of Guinness beer in Los Angeles but someone in Chicago needed it. They could post a message on Yammer and have an answer within minutes. Previously, this would have been through paperwork to get the same result.
Did the sales teams meet their target of reducing SLOBS by 25 per cent? Yes, they did.
“That behavior was a catalyst to changing the way that we work,” Kirkup said. “We position Yammer as a place where employees can connect, collaborate and learn from each other in a single, online, open space.”
I truly believe the best ideas in the business will emerge from sharing with each other what we think and imagine possible. I so want us to move away from just top down communications and get more spontaneous conversation happening among all 30,000 of us."
- Ivan Menezes
Chief Executive Officer