Category Archives: Provokers

Nodding dogs barking but not biting on engagement

Early last year I wrote a piece on the culture change stats that prove two thirds of managers are getting it wrong based on an infographic from Booz & Co (now part of PWC). The folks at recently put out an infographic on employee engagement with some updated research.

There’s a bunch of good new stuff in it quantifying the effects of engagement, like companies with engaged employees outperform their competition by over 200%, have 28% higher gross margins and 18% higher productivity.

The standout gem for me is that 90% of leaders say an engagement strategy will have an impact on business success but only 25% of them actually have one.

Continue reading →

Five revealing questions about company culture

Company culture is such a nebulous, dynamic and organic thing that trying to capture and define it in neat answers from a survey is a bit like trying to hold a cube of custard in your hands: messy and quixotic.

Custard Holding

There may be times however when you need to assess your organisation’s capability strategically. In that scenario, culture is one of the biggest tools in the kit to deliver competitive advantage because it directly affects how well people operate and deliver together. Like any other resource, you need to map out your culture as capability to figure out if you have the right stuff to take on your challenges.

Asking employees multiple choice questions that test their ability to memorise the company handbook won’t tell you anything about what your culture actually looks like. You can try the NPS thing or even the how much to quit thing but that won’t give you any insight into what sort of culture you have operating, just how much it’s impacting the working environment. Continue reading →

The best way to measure employee engagement

A chap over on Quora posted a question asking what the best method to gauge employee engagement was. In answering I took a slightly different perspective because I believe engagement itself is pretty hard to quantify with a method. Engagement is a state of mind, by nature something that cannot be absolutely observed or determined externally. In lab conditions I’m sure certain sets of answers correspond with a model described level of engagement, but in the real world you’re contending with all sorts of human filters that will introduce bias as people do (or don’t) give the answers they think they should.

If a survey comes out from the boss or HR, are employees really going to be honest about an answer that might cost them their job? At the very least, a sense of duty or loyalty to the team and company will probably inhibit ‘pure’ responses.

It’s much easier and instructive to look at the signs and symptoms  – the behaviours expressed that will show the lack or presence of engagement. By looking at actual behaviours, rather than trying to determine state of mind, instinct and experience tells me that they are likely to be a more accurate predictor of engagement. Continue reading →

How much should you offer employees to Pay to Quit?

We’re all familiar with concept of getting the right people on the bus before you even think about embarking on any sort of challenge but how many times have you wished you could get the wrong ones off at the next stop just a little bit faster?

Depending on the employment laws where you are, this can be pretty tricky, particularly when you wish to demonstrate you’ve tried everything reasonable to find the right seat or get the person to a place where they “get it” and are capable of operating in your organisation.

Buried at the bottom of this Guardian article I read that Amazon have apparently hit upon the genius idea of Pay to Quit : simply offering a standing $2000 to anyone that wants to quit. Continue reading →

How reframing can stop smart people giving dumb answers

Ever been in a room full of smart people asked a question?

It’s not hard for them to come up with a bunch of perfectly sensible, rational answers founded on prejudice and assumption experience and logic. Reasonable and rational propositions abound but crucially, they’re often not founded on evidence.

It’s pretty much how it seems some financial reporting works. Revenue was down 4% this quarter due to :

  • the weather was [hotter/wetter/colder/windier], so people didn’t behave normally
  • the [insert sports event here] took place which distracted people
  • competitors launched a new ad campaign
  • the planets weren’t in alignment
  • etc, etc.

Some, none or all of them may be true but as they say, correlation is not causation.

This post about discussing challenge and direction on The Lean Thinker blog, highlights a great use of reframing to get round this problem.

Mark describes how a well-meaning manager keeps asking one of his people “How can we reduce the overtime”. Continue reading →