Twitter 0 0 A new market has emerged: These tools are powerful and disruptive, and they have the potential to redefine how we manage our organizations. As attention shifts toward the health and happiness of staff, employee engagement remains surprisingly low. If we look at employee ratings of employers as a whole, we find that performance follows a bell curve.
While some companies are doing very well, many are doing quite poorly — and the data shows no easy-to-spot patterns. The highly engaged organizations are all shapes and sizes: Why is there such a wide variation in employee engagement and retention? The answer is clear: So these highly engaged companies are doing a lot of things right.
And the problem is getting harder. Today employees are more empowered, mobile, and demanding than ever. What can we do? Employee Feedback as the Killer App Our research shows that a new approach has arrived: Just as customer feedback has transformed the customer experience, employee feedback is transforming the employee experience.
At work the word often has a negative connotation. In this new world we have to redefine this word and look at Feedback as a positive, constructive concept that can unleash innovation, solve problems, and create empowerment in the organization. If we think about Feedback in this way, we can open the floodgates to constructive suggestions — and find a myriad of ways to run our operation better.
Is it scary to think that employees can give us their opinion any time they want? Of course it is — but that horse has left the barn. People now post information about their workplace on a variety of online sites Glassdoor, Facebook, and others or share information privately with their friends. Today we live in a Ratings Economy — we can rate almost anything.
On Uber, for example, you rate the driver and the driver rates you. This helps Uber find problem drivers, but also lets the company find problem customers. Anyone who has done business on eBay knows how effective this system can be, and many consider eBay one of the first trusted, quality-oriented, and service-centric marketplaces. In the case of the employee experience, vendors have created an eNPS employee net promoter score as a single measure.
Laszlo Bock, in his book WorkRules, describes how Google encourages employees to rate their managers, for example. The organization can see which suggestions are highly regarded, helping to prioritize input and which actions to take.
One vendor lets employees rate their employer in categories and then asks them to go back and prioritize each answer — forcing the employee prioritize his or her input. Sentiment analysis and text analytics tools can monitor and help censor unsavory comments. If someone is abusive, releases confidential information, or swears, the software can find this behavior and remove it before it appears in public.
So Feedback is not a new idea and the mechanics are generally well understood. While ratings in a consumer website may or may not be anonymous, at work anonymity is critical. At work, however, the ramifications are different. In some cases the issues are highly sensitive. If people point out process or workplace problems then they are likely to bring up safety issues, sexual harassment, management dysfunction, process inefficiencies, and other problems which could embarrass a manager or create legal risk for the company.
So if you know who the complainer is, there may be a natural tendency to retaliate or even suppress their ideas. This is the approach seasoned HR managers take with any investigation.
Some union contracts, for example, prohibit employers from surveying their people — or they require the union to approve.
If an employee opens a workforce complaint, some states may put the organization on notice, so HR has to monitor some comments. One of the things we can learn from the ratings economy is that great feedback comes when the process is incredibly easy.
If we remove friction from the process make feedback easy and in the flow of work , the feedback becomes richer. New feedback apps now let you mouse over a five-star box to give something a rating. Modern pulse surveys appear in your email and let you answer inline without clicking a link or opening a survey. Vendors are starting to attach their ratings to emails or other systems, letting us give feedback in the flow of work.
Think about a feedback box attached to every presentation, email, or document we receive, for example. And the questions they ask are simple and short. This simple tool gives managers an instant sense of how things are trending, pointing to potential problem areas. Vendors like Trello an online productivity app embed this functionality right into the daily flow of work.
A national food service company implemented a pulse feedback system and discovered that the drive-thru service window was causing operational glitches in staffing. People were running back and forth between the drive-up window and the in-store window, rather than having someone dedicated to drive-thru. A sales and marketing executive at a fast-growing software company told me he pulses his sales people with one question every week.
The app would let you rate each meeting you attend and immediately provide feedback to the meeting organizer on the utility of the session. We could then rate and rank meeting leaders, look at which meetings should be shorter, and… well you can imagine the possibilities.
One particular app, Waggl. Do These Tools Work? Yes, When Designed Well. They are not long surveys. Earls Kitchen and Bar, a fast-growing Canadian and now US-based restaurant chain, uses pulse surveys to stay in touch with their staff in every restaurant.
Well this data stream may be one of the most valuable you have. Remember that feedback data is like the canary in the coal mine: And Feedback goes well beyond employee happiness, by the way. Once you implement a feedback app you will get help with business performance, turnover issues, theft and abuse, compliance violations, customer service issues, and a whole variety of other operational issues.
When sales productivity is low, turnover is high, quality issues arise, or you have theft or compliance problems, the feedback and comments from people should alert you immediately to the problem. Tell people that personal comments, discriminatory and inflammatory statements, and other types of disparagement are not permitted.
Disruptive to the Engagement Survey Market This market is new, growing fast, and likely to become a billion dollar market over the next few years. Employees today are like volunteers, always willing to tell you what we can do to make the business better. The Impact on Performance Management: Let Employees Rate their Managers One of the biggest issues facing HR departments today is the need to redesign the performance management process.
Not only are many companies doing away with ratings and simplifying the process as a whole, they are now realizing that the manager-led process has flaws.
We know managers are biased. If a manager is particularly hard on his or her people, this feedback loop helps balance the system. The performance management market software market is picking up on this. A new breed of performance management systems enables managers to check-in with employees on a regular basis and lets employees rate the manager on a regular basis displaying aggregate data, so employee identity is protected.
The theme is to reduce the unilateral power of managers, and opening up decisions to a larger group. Google, for example, does not let managers unilaterally rate employees or decide who to hire because managers act in their own self-interest.
I personally believe team feedback will become a standard feature set in all performance management software soon. The Vendor Marketplace Today: Innovation is rapid and there are dozens perhaps hundreds of startups entering the space. They use a variety of methods to engage people some are surveys, some are online dashboards , but their 1 focus is making it feedback easy. While these companies provide various types of surveys and measurement dashboards to view results, they also have other features that can be useful for performance reviews, management assessments, and other feedback events.
Slack is now offering this as well. Since the market is so huge, vendors focus in different segments. In time we will see these tools embedded into work management systems. While they may not be anonymous, there are many benefits to commenting on a project or a meeting right in the flow of work.
As I talk to corporate HR managers, most are starting to experiment with these tools and many expect to replace their annual engagement survey over time. The new vendors are building standard questions, producing industry benchmarks, and creating enterprise reporting to meet this need.
A History of Anonymous Social Apps Anonymous social networks are not a new idea — in fact the very first social network, MySpace, was anonymous. With the advent of mobile apps, such anonymous networks have re-emerged with a vengeance.
Over the last few years history has taught us a lot: Several major business rumors and sexual harassment issues were surfaced on Secret, and as a result the founders shut the system down around the end of The issue of whether or not posts on Whisper are really confidential continues to be an open topic of debate.
Every mobile device has a unique identifier and can often broadcast an IP address which does identify the owner, so confidentiality can be considered not only a technical issue, but also one of business process. Whisper uses photos as its paradigm for sharing information, and it is often used by students. It has a lot of personal and relationship-related traffic, but enables its users to downvote or report abuse to help keep the site clean.
YikYak, which is a similar system but focused more on young people and university students, continues to grow, now enabling people to post photos and create group chats on various topics and themes.
We are in new territory here, and many of the vendors in this space are experimenting with ways to keep the conversation positive. One in particular, Bettercompany. While the app is still new, it appears to have created a very positive and constructive environment filled with support and advice.
We can learn more about these systems by looking at the history of Facebook.