Category Design Case Study IV: Radical TRANSPARENCY.

This category design case study is about choosing to include everyone in the process and in the solutions. The best answers come from anywhere; rarely from management or HR! Ha. This takes bravery and trust in the team.

Here are the other case studies: Intro – case I: TRUST – case II: FLOW – case III: SCALE

Here is the case study IV PDF version.

The enduring challenges: (what is…)

  1. Engagement…is done to people, and “owned” by HR, rather than determined and orchestrated by workers for themselves.
  2. Knowledge…is power; yet data is shared with workers on a need-to-know basis devised by management.

The point of view (what if…)

  • Let’s investigate an employee pulse survey so that the engagement conversation is data rich and its flows are live and persistent.
  • Let’s empower colleagues and teams by transparently reflecting back to them the data and insight they share via the survey by giving them open access to the scores and feedback..
  • Let’s include everyone in the determination and pursuit of high engagement, versus it being the accountability of HR and line managers.

The sell-ution (what wows…)

The head of Corporate Resources sought a more data-rich approach to engagement. I sourced the OfficeVibe pulse survey and we put the tool into beta with his team to investigate its best practice use case. A weekly set of 5 questions with an opportunity to feedback, taking 1-minute to execute, creating a live stream of trending data. I encouraged a radical transparency approach to the data, where there was no gatekeeper to the feedback within a team.

Just as we had trusted colleagues to share their stories <see case study: TRUST> we could trust them to devise their own solutions to engagement challenges. Don’t rely on managers’ capacity for solutions – the best answers are (more?) likely to emerge from within the team. As well as empowering every colleague to find solutions, it would also hold everyone more accountable – individuals should not sit back and wait for engagement to be done to them. Not every manager or HR rep has the capacity to solve knotty problems.

The mobilization (what works…)

Firstly, we beta-tested with the Corporate team and asked all the difficult questions. Then, a slow roll-out across departments as a senior leader sponsored the initiative. In the spirit of bottom-up engagement, these execs did NOT have access to scoring except for their immediate reports. This was to encourage open conversations with their team’s managers – “what is going on? What is working? What solutions are you looking at to solve issues?” etc.

What worked: individuals and teams appreciated being able to benchmark their scores against both internal averages and global standards as determined by OfficeVibe’s global customers. Many teams set up committees to investigate engagement opportunities across the ten engagement drivers. Several teams which had low scores made marked improvements in their scores through targeted conversations and actions.The watercooler conversation was strong about what was working and not working – the kind of peer-to-peer learning that workers rely on to orient themselves.

What failed: because this was not an HR initiative, that team was ambivalent to its success, and their support atrophied over time. Execs were not used to sharing data and found it uncomfortable. Without a commitment among themselves to work at a bottom-up initiative, it was difficult to hold them accountable to drive the program and the engagement outcomes. Employees, after some time of not seeing change or support, found the weekly cadence too much – “what’s the point of the survey if nothing happens?

Ultimately, the organic, bottom-up access was not enough to overcome traditional inertia around making leaders directly accountable for their team’s engagement. Old habits die hard.

Dis!Organize resources:  learning is publiccultivate curiositycreative tension

This Much We Know.

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