Engagement is fundamental. It’s a power that resides in most people, waiting to be unlocked. People want to be engaged in what they do. If the organization will build the foundation for engaging people, employees will do the rest. The five keys of ENGAGEMENT MAGIC provide an essential foundation for creating effective, lasting engagement.
Think back to your very first job. Was
it at the local taqueria as a hostess? Was it delivering newspapers? Or were
you a lifeguard at the community pool? You were probably doing the job for a
couple of reasons: money and experience. In many entry-level jobs, the employer
may be happy just to have a warm body, and because of this, they hope that the
money or resume bullet point will be enough to make you stay for a while.
Beyond entry-level jobs, other employers may have a similar mindset. They only
need to train employees to get the job done, but there is so much more to work
than knowing how to do your job. Having trained workers doesn’t equal high
employee retention or superb customer service. Having engaged employees is
actually the key.
Job Basics Aren’t Enough
In a perfect world, even the
entry-level jobs would come with more than a training manual that only teaches
you how to do your job. The manual would come with the understanding that you
are complex being with several different needs, wants, emotions etc. And
because the writer of said manual knows this, they include things like, “now
that you know your job, what other skills do you have that will help you be
successful in your job? What skills do you need to learn? Here’s how you find
and foster a relationship with a mentor! Here are some things to remember if
you want to be an engaged employee!”
Because not every job does this, we often don’t learn these things until much later, or sometimes never! I began working when I was 15 years old. Most adults considered me mature beyond my years, and in many ways, I was. But looking back, it’s painful to see how I handled and thought about certain situations.
I would always go above and beyond in my job, treat customers well, but many times grew miserable as I failed to find meaning in what I was doing, or struggled to have a relationship with my manager. I have held many positions since then: retail, food service, substitute teacher, music teacher, administrator, and professional musician. In my 12 years of working, I never came across the idea of “Employee Engagement.” I didn’t hear about this term until I was hired by a company who “measured and improved employee engagement.”
Employee Engagement Transforms Your Work
My welcome package included a book written by our CEO called ENGAGEMENT MAGIC: 5 Keys for Engaging People, Leaders, and Organizations. That book, and the philosophies within, helped me realize that I was just getting by with past jobs. Armed with these new ideas, I could have a career I was passionate about. Armed with these new ideas I could form a clear strategy and become a fully engaged employee who was happy at work. Why do I say that? Because back then, I didn’t know the drivers of employee engagement: Meaning, Autonomy, Growth, Impact, and Connection or MAGIC for short. Back then, I didn’t have the vocabulary to explain why I was unhappy in many situations. I didn’t know that there were certain areas within my employee experience that I needed to nurture.
If I had thought more about meaning, I would have found ways to do more than grin and bear my situation. If I had thought about autonomy, I could have known to ask my boss to let me shape my experience more, minimizing stress and bad feelings. If I had thought about growth, I would have learned to create formal growth plans for my present and future self. If I had thought about impact I would have learned to see and celebrate the differences I made. If I had thought more about connection, I would have made more time to get to know my coworkers and learn from them while building my network.
Let’s Create a Better Future for Our Workforce
I don’t want anyone entering the
workforce to begin their journey without the concept of employee engagement. Recent
research from MIT finds
that, “Enterprises with top-quartile employee experience achieve twice the
innovation, double the customer satisfaction, and 25 percent higher profits
than organizations with a bottom-quartile employee experience.”
If we can teach young employees about
the drivers of engagement the first time that they get a job and then
revisit these ideas every subsequent role, our workforce will be stronger,
happier, more productive, and more profitable.
So, what can we do today? We can share
knowledge and information. We can share this article or gift ENGAGEMENT MAGIC
to a young person in our life. If our friends and family are struggling at
work, we can help them assess where they are struggling within the MAGIC model.
And for your friends that are well into their careers and loving it, share with
them too. A little MAGIC in our life is better late than never.
Ep. 54: Meet The Consultant - Dave Long - SoundCloud (882 secs long, 5 plays)Play in SoundCloud
In this episode, we sit down with DecisionWise VP of Assessment and Senior Consultant, David Long, MBA. We discuss his career and his approach towards engagement, consulting, and leadership.
David is a Senior Consultant at DecisionWise, where he directs organizational change initiatives, including employee engagement surveys and employee experience initiatives for clients around the world. His main area of focus is guiding and facilitating change in organizations, resulting in a more engaging employee experience. He regularly works with leadership teams to evaluate current levels of engagement, potential courses of action, and organizational readiness for change.
Prior to joining DecisionWise, David worked in the finance industry with both The Vanguard Group and Wells Fargo. He also spent time as an entrepreneur, building a property management company, which he later sold. He has also worked in human resources at Adobe where his focus was creating systems to encourage performance discussions between managers and direct reports.
David received a Master of Business Administration degree from the Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University where he specialized in Organizational Behavior and Human Resources. He also has an undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University in Finance.
In a recent survey conducted by Adobe, 88% of the survey participants indicated they were part of a performance appraisal process. This same study found that managers in these programs spent, on average, 17 hours per employee preparing for their performance reviews. Yet, these findings were overshadowed by the discovery that 59% indicated that performance reviews “do not have an impact on how they do their jobs;” instead, they called them a “needless HR requirement.”[i]
The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) has reported that 95% of employees are dissatisfied with their company’s performance appraisal process, and, according to SHRM, 90% of these employees do not believe their performance review process yields accurate information.[ii] Statistics like these might account for some of the reasons why companies like Adobe, GE, and The Gap have substantially revised or even eliminated their traditional performance appraisal systems altogether.[iii]
Scary statistics, however, do not justify eliminating performance appraisal programs. Employees want to know if they are succeeding; they want meaningful feedback. Bill George, a professor of leadership at the Harvard Business School, has suggested that, “[S]elf-awareness is the starting point of leadership.”[iv] Indeed, other researchers have commented that self-awareness may be more important to a leader’s success than formal business training.[v] It’s axiomatic that if one is self-aware, he or she can learn and improve. If one is closed-minded, however, development and growth will be blocked.
In a similar vein, our experience and research at DecisionWise confirm the following principles: (1) employees want meaningful feedback (with more being better than less); and (2) understanding others’ perceptions about one’s performance is critical to that person’s leadership potential, personal development, and good management practice.
How to Fix Your Process Quickly
For these reasons, we have two performance appraisal tools that are designed to augment and support an organization’s existing performance review process. We think of these tools as bolt-on solutions that do not disrupt current processes while providing more actionable data. Our first solution uses a multi-rater (a 360-degree) survey that measures performance competencies for employees at all levels within an organization. It is also designed to give insight into performance and potential because it contains survey items that also measure an employee’s likelihood for future success (i.e., their potential). Thus, the instrument offers two assessment in one.
Our second solution is focused on evaluative information for teams. Our survey system gathers performance data upon completion of individual, discreet projects. For example, an accounting firm might use this tool to evaluate how well each of its audit engagements went during the last 6 months.
With the rise of ad hoc and self-directed teams, employees are now working closely with others who may not be linked together in the organization’s hierarchy or performance review process. Our tool gathers feedback from team members, and feedback can be gathered immediately after a project closes so that memories and suggestions for improvement do not fade with time.
Again, these tools are not designed to replace an organization’s current performance appraisal process or its talent review methods. Instead, our firm is looking to help practitioners with easy-to-use solutions that gather cleaner and more meaningful data to help them in their talent management efforts.
Why Our Solutions Work
A standard performance appraisal process is designed to help an individual employee and their manager understand two important things: (1) how well is an employee aligned to the organization’s objectives, culture, and strategy (alignment); and (2) to what extent are an individual’s personal efforts contributing towards team and organization success (accomplishment).
In addition to understanding these two questions of alignment and accomplishment, our instrument, as noted, is designed to evaluate potential. Some research has suggested that understanding your employees’ potential may be more important than simply identifying a current slate of strong performers.[vi] For this reason, we show both datapoints at the same time.
Typical performance review programs are built around processes that range from evaluations based on business metrics (e.g., hitting sales goals) to narrative essays that offer in-depth detail about a person’s strengths and weaknesses. Here is a sampling of some of the more common performance management methods:
Manager’s report and assessment;
Ranking systems (everyone is given a ranking);
Behaviorally anchored rating scales;
Critical incident methods (something happens, and everyone takes time to document how performance could have been improved);
Continuous feedback and coaching systems;
Job responsibilities review; or
In addition to some of these more common methods, there are many more performance appraisal programs used around the world, as organizations customize and develop programs to meet their specific needs.
Of the myriad of options available, employees appear to prefer multi-rater feedback.[vii] A standard multi-rater feedback program solicits feedback and evaluative information from a variety of sources that surround the focal person (i.e., the participant). Feedback is solicited from one’s supervisor, from one’s peers and direct reports, and from other applicable categories. You may be most familiar with multi-rater programs in the context of 360-degree feedback surveys.
Some practitioners avoid a multi-rater performance process, believing it is more difficult to administer and track because it relies on input from a lot of people. This fear was probably justified in the past, but we designed our surveys and technology to address many of these historical problems. In addition, a multi-rater performance process is a net positive because it solves many of the problems associated with other appraisal programs.
For example, because multiple raters are surveyed, the process is sounder from a legal perspective, as it relies on variety of observations instead of just one or two. Employees also appreciate the fact that feedback is not contingent on just one or two people. Evaluations are received from a variety of sources including peers and others that might even have a rooting interest in favor of the employee. Moreover, a multi-rater system, by its nature, means evaluation criteria remain consistent from one rater set to another. In addition, the instrument focuses on well-defined competencies instead of relying on personal evaluations that may be subject to biases. External rater groups may even be invited to join the process, which extends the reach of the program to potential customers, vendors, etc.
On the backend, users are provided a robust analytics tool, which means HR leaders and analysts will be able to cut and slice their data and discover hidden pockets where things are going well or poorly. Our survey instruments are designed to not only assess performance but also potential, and our analytics tool can be used to develop nine-boxes. Nine-boxes are useful data visualizations that helps talent management professionals and others involved in succession planning quickly identify and track their high-performing employees.
Our team-focused solution addresses a different concern. Self-directed teams are emerging as useful tool for organizations to solve tricky problems that require innovation and cross-functional expertise.[viii] In addition, other industries rely heavily on ad hoc teams (teams created for a specific project and then they disband), such as heavy construction, accounting, marketing, etc. Many companies would like to evaluate these teams in order to conduct people analytics (e.g., What makes a good team? What characteristics help or hinder the process, etc.?).
While it is common for teams to conduct a debrief session after a project has been completed, these sessions often lack any hard data from which to conduct the debrief. Moreover, in-person debriefs do not yield data that can be aggregated to show larger trends or to make predictive analyses. Our team solution launches a quick evaluative survey (ideally taken on mobile devices) soon after a project closes. This tool is supported by administrative features to help automate and organize the process, and its analytics tool, as suggested, helps the user explore and analyze data for immediate insights along with laying the groundwork for potential predictive analyses.
For practitioners conducting talent reviews, these two solutions are an easy way to gather more actionable data from which to make decisions, to tailor learning programs, or develop succession plans. These tools also help organize and automate the process without disrupting current programs and systems.
Employees want to improve, and they want feedback to help them. The key to unlocking your employees’ potential is meaningful data that points the way for managers and employees to improve on strengths and narrow performance gaps. While some experts cheerfully proclaim the performance review is dead, the reality is that in a modern, data-driven workplace, and when dealing with data-savvy employees, the performance review isn’t ready to die. It’s too valuable a data source and management tool. However, it needs to be re-imagined and enhanced with technology, systems, and data collection that make the appraisal process better for both the individual and the organization.
Ep. 52: Organizational Network Analysis - Tapping Into Your Hidden Influencers - SoundCloud (2630 secs long, 4 plays)Play in SoundCloud
Hidden influencers are those with personal power, but not necessarily positional power. Other employees are drawn to them due to their expertise, influence, and role modeling. These informal influencers are crucial for engagement, information flow, decision-making, best practice transfer, institutional knowledge, mentoring, and retention.
Correctly identifying and engaging hidden influencers is one of the greatest levers leaders have to increase organization-wide engagement. Learn how to do it in this insightful conversation between Beth Wilkins, Ph. D., Christian Nielson, MBA, and host Justin Warner.
In this episode, we sit down with DecisionWise Senior Consultant and Executive Coach, Dan Deka, MBA. We discuss his career and his approach towards engagement, consulting, and leadership.
Dan is a Senior Consultant and Executive Coach at DecisionWise. He is responsible for partnering with individuals, teams, and organizations to help them design experiences that illuminate leadership potential and improve employee engagement.
Dan’s love for inspired design evolved from art and film to business and human relations as he pursued and received his B.A. from Loyola Marymount University and his M.B.A. from San Diego State University. Dan is also an ICF Certified Executive Coach from Georgetown University.
His 20 year career in Human Resources spans the field from employee relations, performance management, organizational design, change management, and employee engagement to leadership and executive development. These experiences have been cultivated from positions with Packard Bell, Wells Fargo, Capital One, RealNetworks, Micron Technologies, and most recently as the Manager of Organizational Development for a global non-profit.
Dan is a surfer from Hawaii and enjoys “riding the wave” with his team, clients and family.
Before you use 360 feedback in your organization, make sure you have properly set expectations with all participants and raters involved. Here are the five questions that you must answer before you press send to distribute 360 surveys to your leaders:
1. Who is going through the 360 feedback process (and why)? Usually, 360 surveys are administered in groups. Most organizations cascade them down the organization in waves starting with the executive team one month, VPs the next, and so on. Explain your roll-out process and who is involved. That way, participants don’t feel like they are being singled out when the 360 survey email shows up in their inbox. Additionally, let them know that this is for their development (more on this later).
2. Who chooses raters? Best practice is to allow the participant, the person receiving the feedback, to choose his or her raters (boss, peers, direct reports, etc.). Their manager and/or HR can then review the list and make any edits. By choosing their own raters, participants are more receptive to the feedback knowing they had a say in who participated.
3. Who will see the report? Think about it. You thought you would be the only one to see your results but then you find out your report has been shared with HR, your boss, and your boss’ boss. That adds a significant amount of unexpected weight to the process for the individual. If this is the first time you have used 360 surveys, we recommend that report go only to the participant and the person that will debrief the results. If others will see the report, communicate that information at the beginning of the process.
4. Who will debrief the results with me? Every 360 feedback participant should have a one-on-one debrief of the results. This can be done by a trained internal HR professional, external coach, boss, or peer. This allows the individual to process the results and create an action plan. Make sure it is clear who will conduct the debrief session and when.
5. What am I expected to do after getting my report?
Participants should create a personal action plan and share it with their boss. Even if the boss does not see the individual’s report, this will build accountability into the process. The outcome is for the individual to gain awareness about their leadership effectiveness and to commit to one or two goals for improvement. Some organizations incorporate these goals into the leader’s performance goals.
These questions are best addressed during a 30-minute meeting with participants. Along with answering these questions, I like to share the survey questions and a sample report to show how the results will be displayed. Explain the process. Let people know how to take the survey, who you will be working with, the timeline, and desired outcomes. Talk about confidentiality and how individual rater responses are grouped to protect anonymity.
If you properly set expectations up-front, participants will be more open to the process and have a positive growth experience.