Ways to build Karma @Work

Imagine a day at work. Your employee, a software engineer, puts his heart and soul in solving a customer’s problem that you know means a lot to the project and to you. And finally, after a whole day of research, coding, testing and debugging, he finally deploys it and it works! Everybody is happy – your customer, your employee and of course you. That’s Karma! Don’t you think so?

In the end you’re thinking  – “If only there were a way to give some recognition for all his hard work”

This is probably the scenario common in all the organizations these days. A recent study shows that organizations with effective recognition program have 31% lower voluntary turnover than those without it. And organizations with strategic recognition programs exhibit 28.6% lower frustration levels than those without recognition programs.

Employees don’t just work for pay, they also need recognition for their hard work, and at Engazewell, we have a tool just for that – Karma

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Building a Data-Driven Culture

As a business leader, people have stopped debating about the importance of good data. It has become the lifeblood of the complex system and instead of gut feeling, it often helps to take help from the data. The effective usage of data has been ensuring an effective conversation and decisions.

In a data-driven organization/culture, you try to capture and use all the possible data points. In this culture, you quantify as many of your goals and expectations as possible by building on and working with the data in the real time.

How to build data-driven culture?

Before you get started with the thought of developing data-driven culture, refer to my blog on understanding and defining your company culture. This will give you a good idea about how to build a culture. If you absorb this very well then it will make sense to build data-driven culture.

In order to create a data-driven culture, it is important to enable everyone to consistently drive their actions with metrics. And for that, everyone must have access to the data they need and the tools to interpret it. Everyone should be taken on board that the data collected has the required level of correctness, transparency and it is meant for improving the organization.

Following diagram depicts the process involved in measuring the effectiveness of the process of creating a data-driven culture:

Data Driven Organization

Benefits of Data-Driven Culture

No Place for Guesswork

If things are not transparently defined, we all know how different people interpret the same things differently. Without valid data, you will be resorting to guesswork and gut feeling. Sometimes you will be right and a lot of times you may be wrong. As a leader, people do expect you to be right, always! If you get it wrong then you will be seen as unfair or at the best incapable. And hence, the guesswork and the gut feelings must be avoided as much as possible in the data-driven culture.

Better Success for New Initiatives

One of the key reasons for the failure of the new initiatives is the lack of well-defined measurement. In a data-driven organization/culture, for any initiative, you first think about how will that get measured. This attitude itself provides a base for continuous improvement and hence the likelihood of success of the new initiatives become higher.

Transparency

The transparency in collecting and using the data ensure that people see the leaders as transparent. Further, people know that things are transparent and in such case, they try their best to stay fair, which in turn improves fairness in the overall system.

However, we do need to be careful in a certain aspect of transparency. Specifically, there is an age-old recommendation that “Praise in public and criticize in private”. The transparency and data collection do need to ensure that these softer aspects are taken care. When this is done appropriately, it creates an amazing environment of trust.

Role Model for Others

The transparency and crowdsourcing ensure that people who are aligned and focussed on the company purpose gain more visibility. Of course, other people can drill down to see what is making them more successful and visible.

This is where it is important that the feedback must be objective and it must exactly explain, why someone is being appreciated. For example, if a company has one of the core value as “Continuous Improvement” and one of the employee shows visible improvement then it should be explicitly mentioned while appreciating the individual. This acts as a great reference and motivation for others as well.

Year-end arguments vs daily improvement

The traditional subjective system and hence culture was always giving way to a discussion like “why my friend is rated better than me, while we did similar work”? In the year end, this one discussion is so subjective that none is right or wrong and eventually a huge withdrawal happens. Both the parties compromise and in best case decide to move on with damaged energy level.

With data-driven culture, the transparency ensures that people have ample opportunity to see what is going on around them and pick themselves up and be counted. They do see that they have more control on their success as they can stay focussed on their daily improvement.

Example Usage

You’ve put the time into building a data-driven culture, your team is on the same page about metrics and goals, the data is transparent, and you have the EngazeWell software in place for proper data analysis. Just beating the drum around being a data-driven culture will not help. You seriously need to get down to using this to make things more effective for yourself and your organization.

For example, one of our customers is using employee engagement score for the following purposes

  • Quarterly / half-yearly rewards and recognition
  • Yearly Appraisal
  • Salary hike
  • Promotions
  • Employee Loan Review and Approval
  • Advance Salary Review and Approval
  • Bonus
  • Variable Pay

Challenges in becoming data-driven culture

When there is a lot of focus on data, many times we hide in it and feel that job is done. The fact is that we do need to remind ourselves that we pledged for making data-driven organization so that everyone can have an improved life. Thus, we should not be dumping some of the good things that we were already doing. In this section, I will talk about some of the things that we shall be careful about.

Don’t lose human touch

What you want out of data and metrics are insights. With the wealth of data available to you, it’s tempting to try to do too much with data. Avoid the “analysis paralysis” or just being inside the data. Remember, the employee engagement is like a Karma, where there may be guidelines but for the same activity, there may be different credit or debit, based on the situation, timing, person, impact, etc.

Make sure that people are not losing the human touch. The data collection must happen implicitly, without any fuss and people shall work as usual, as if there is no data collection happening. Always remember that data and metrics are means to an end.

Initial Inconsistency

Like any initiative, the decision of building a data-driven organization is a huge initiative. While we often hear from leaders that the change is the only constant, the fact remains that inertia does resist and people find changes to be difficult. Even when people get onboard, they might not understand the system and its purpose exactly the way a leadership team may understand. Hence, there may be some inconsistency in the beginning.

This is where the continuous education has to happen for the people about the importance of quality data and the purpose that it solves. Also, the system needs to provide a way to prevent people from making significantly visible mistakes. For example, a subordinate giving the manager a project performance feedback, would not make sense and hence he/she will have access to options which makes sense for his/her roles and responsibility.

Hanging on to the past

Since the data is transparently shared, people know how they are doing. While this motivates the people who want to improve but they are still lagging, sometimes the people in the front becomes complacent. This is not great for the individual as well as for the company.

The leadership team needs to personally spend time with such people and keep challenging them. Also, the other people who are making good progress during a given month or period shall be celebrated to keep the momentum going at the organization level.

Summary

In this article, I have given a quick idea about how to build a data-driven culture, the benefits of a data-driven culture and some of the challenges that you would face while building this culture. There is no doubt that the data helps us in taking more informed and accurate decisions. Specifically, in employee engagement, where everything cannot be made very objective, it becomes important to be as accurate as possible. Hence, it makes perfect sense for any serious leader to build a data-driven culture consciously and proactively.

Reference

  • http://engazewell.com/2017/02/02/understand-and-define-your-company-culture

 

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Employee engagement – a competitive differentiator

Before we go deeper in understanding the competitive advantage of Employee Engagement, let’s understand the difference between Engaged Employee and Actively Disengaged Employees.

Engaged Employee

An employee is engaged when he/she works with passion, feel a deep connection with the organization and takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.

  • They create hope and explores possibilities, which leads to innovation
  • They are high on productivity and energy, which leads to an overall positive work environment
  • They are highly aligned with the purpose and with each other
  • The employee turnover will be lesser, which means the funds required for recruitment for the replacement can be used for employee welfare and company’s sustainable growth

Actively Disengaged Employee

Actively-Disengaged Employees aren’t just unhappy at work; they are busy acting out their unhappiness.

  • They will not just hurt the quality of the delivery, but they will leave distaste with your customer.
  • They will most likely undo the good work of the actively engaged folks, who might be working hard to take the organization forward.
  • And, they may demand significant time from management/leaders, which should have actually been spent with the customer and in taking the business forward

You can further refer to my previous blog on “Actionable Classification of Employee Engagement” for detailed categorization and how do they impact the organization.

Visual Comparision

I use below image and ask the question, which team do you think is performing better?

Aligned Team's Performance

Credit: https://www.facebook.com/inspiredlife0/videos/656538531199381/

The unanimous answer to above question is Team A.

The irony is that Team B has

  • More people
  • Lesser Load
  • They might have started earlier
  • They might be costlier

Also, being misaligned is causing the Team B to be

  • slow
  • the team members are at the best frustrated with each other
  • the likelihood of stress is high and
  • churning is assured

Competitive Advantage

Now that we understand the engaged vs disengaged employee and the result of engaged team vs disengaged team, let’s understand what does competitive advantage mean for a business?

The straight-forward answer will be that a company has a competitive advantage over other company if it

  • is having better sales growth
  • has a higher market share
  • is creating better shareholder value
  • has better profitability under the same market condition
  • etc.

When you understand the above advantage, the obvious question is, what causes these advantages? Well, I am asking you to assume that the market condition is same and none of the companies have a magician in their leadership role. If you look very closely, you will realize that the advantage exists because one company is better at the customer engagement with respect to the other company. What it means is that they

  • are ensuring better customer service
  • are continuously looking for improving the customer experience
  • have satisfied/happy customers
  • have better customer retention

And, who ensures better customer engagement? Can you just achieve this through the best possible training courses? Well, the answer is that the engaged employee ensure an improved customer engagement and there is no formal training for this. Unless this is done with passion, the customer will be able to see that your employee is faking. The customers are also a human being and they want to see a human giving them a great experience, which makes them revisit the same vendor/supplier.

The effective employee engagement helps with

  • alignment
  • retention
  • passion
  • commitment
  • lesser absenteeism
  • etc

Thus it becomes easier to see an engaged employee ensuring better customer engagement and hence a better customer experience.

Following image depicts the competitive advantage that an effective employee engagement can lead to:

Competitive Advantage of Employee Engagement

Social Media and its impact

While the financial advantage it easy to visualize, it still takes a while before it becomes obvious. However, the presence of social channels like Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, etc makes sure that engagement becomes publicly visible and that too immediately. The issues which used to be privately discussed are becoming publicly exposed and debated – and it is becoming available for the current employee as well as the potential employee.

An organization’s culture, the way they work in their day-to-day life, becomes known to everyone. While the potential employees do look at these details, even potential customers also take these details equally seriously. Good or bad, the transparency is relatively higher and organizations on the right side of the transparency will have a clear advantage.

Summary

Employee Engagement is a key differentiator for any organization. With the shortage of desired skill, the technology innovation that the world is currently going through and the kind of social tools that exist today, the effective employee engagement is no longer a choice, but it is super important. I strongly believe that in the near future, the company which can ensure a great customer experience will be the winner. For that to happen, the prerequisite is to have an effective employee engagement and hence I do see this as a great advantage.

 

Reference

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Engaging Disengaged Employees

Disengagement can be costly. In US alone, the cost of disengagement is estimated to be close to $550 billion annually. While organizations spend a significant lot of their resources and money in increasing their profits, it is time for them to take a close look at their people and their engagement at workplace. The first step towards solving the disengagement problem is to understand and recognize it.

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Creating a Culture of Appreciation

According to Herzberg’s motivationhygiene theory, in the workplace, there are two sets of factors – one set (Motivation) causes job satisfaction and the other set (hygiene, if not present) causes dissatisfaction. The satisfaction and dissatisfaction are two independent phenomena and one doesn’t compensate for other.

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Understand and define your company culture

When it comes to understanding company culture, different people come up with different definition and understanding. However, one thing everyone acknowledges is that it is something which separates two companies. When it is so important, it becomes imperative to understand this deeply and get it right consciously.

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