Podcast: How Innovation Contributes to Success

In this podcast episode, DecisionWise Consultant, Thomas Olsen, discusses the topic of innovation and how it contributes to the success of an organization.

Many companies want to be innovative but unknowingly put up barriers to prevent this from happening. Managers might say things like, “This is how we’ve always done it,” or “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” Management needs to give encouragement and time to their employees to share new, innovative ideas. If it’s not a part of the culture, it won’t happen.

But where do you start? You don’t have to reinvent the wheel in order to be innovative. You can start with improvements to processes that save time and money. You can hold brainstorming meetings and reward your employees for experimenting and questioning the status quo.

Learn about how to implement these ideas and more in this episode.

How to Get Your Company’s Leadership to Listen

Leaders listening

It may, at times, feel difficult to get your company’s leadership to listen. Sometimes problems exist with colleagues. Members of your team may not respond to e-mails or avoid speaking face to face. Other communication struggles surface when you need to tell your manager about a problem you are encountering. But maybe they don’t make time for one-on-ones, or perhaps they need a little coaching on how to effectively listen.

And then there’s that feeling that the organization as a whole isn’t listening. Many companies try to fix their communication struggles by first soliciting feedback. We applaud them for taking the time to run an employee engagement survey. But, how do they show you they will listen to and act on your feedback? And what if they do nothing? Will you wait for them to make changes while your engagement wanes? You could absolutely wait and feel justified, because your organization is letting you down. But does a thought like this serve you?

In a previous blog, our DecisionWise consultants discussed the organization’s part in the issue of employee voice. Towards the end of the conversation, we asked them to share some observations that might empower you in this tough situation. In response, they shared some things we could keep in mind when we feel like no one is listening.

Avoid the Trap of “Learned Helplessness”

Principal Consultant, Dan Hoopes asserts that we should first identify if we have developed a victim mentality. He mentions the work of Martin Seligman and his research on “learned helplessness.” This video explains a study Seligman conducted. You may see from the questions at the end how “learned helplessness,” might be holding you back.

“Learned helplessness” is a trap we fall into all too often. If I’m not getting the information or feedback that I need, I should go and ask. I Appreciate when people ask for clarification. So, when we think of engagement as a 50/50 proposition, I think the same thing happens with communication. You can’t wait to be acted upon. Learned helplessness is, “They didn’t tell me that.”  

Know When and How to Bring up Your Ideas

Learning to navigate company culture can be a little bit tricky. Sometimes, employees just need a mentor to coach them through pitching their ideas. Senior Consultant, Charles Rogel shared some thoughts on how new employees might find more success in this area.

And so you need to be strategic in terms of your suggestions, ideas, and things that you really want to change.

“I’ve seen new, enthusiastic employees come up with 20 different ideas to improve the organization within their first week. And they come with, “At my last organization, we…” In this case, the new employees come off too strongly, with too many suggestions. Your company’s leadership is less likely to listen if you add too much noise, and too many things to consider. They should instead think about their top ideas and suggestions, and look for the best opportunity to share those. Are you suggesting something as a special project that you want to take on as one of your development goals? Are you trying to enact change in a more strategic way? Realize that change takes time in any organization. People may not listen to all of your suggestions, but be patient, deliberate, and keep trying.”

VP of Consulting Services, Christian Nielson adds an often overlooked point. Tenured employees may know that the company has come a long way in addressing certain issues. As a new employee, you are unfamiliar with the journey that employees have taken in the organization. People may have tried your solutions but found they didn’t work for whatever reason. And so, Christian cautions us with this.

“When you are new to an organization, you must be sensitive enough to honor the past and understand that you might lack certain information. But with that in mind, press forward and try. One of my favorite definitions of employee engagement is, “When we’re engaged, we feel empowered to bring more of our best self to work.” We should search for a way to be our authentic self and to incorporate more of that into our work.”

Can You Help Your Company’s Leadership Listen to You?

Sometimes, just tweaking the way we approach people with our ideas can offer very different results. Christian offers this tip that he learned from business educator, Marshall Goldsmith.

When you ask someone for help it does this interesting psychological thing where they join your side.

“Goldsmith has this great idea about asking for help and what it does if you have a manager that’s not supportive when you bring up ideas. Ask them for help saying, “I have this idea, can you help me figure out a way to implement this on a trial basis, further explore this, or do a test of this idea.” When you ask someone for help, it does this interesting psychological thing where they join your side. Now, this isn’t foolproof, but it can at least soften some of the existing barriers.”

Principal Consultant, Beth Wilkins then helped us with one more tweak as she put us into the minds of managers. Beth shares how many managers feel and how it affects their ability to listen and act on employee concerns.

“As a manager, I experienced employees telling me about all of their problems, and it became very heavy. I began to brace myself for a laundry list of problems in one-on-ones. I paid close attention when people had a solution attached to the problem. In consideration of managers, I would recommend that employees think, “what kinds of things can I suggest that would make my manager’s or executives’ lives easier?” rather than just reporting the problem.”

Conclusion

You may have stopped talking because getting your company’s leadership to listen seemed hopeless. If you’ve had some time to heal, look back at those people and situations. Were these people possibly having a bad day or in a hurry? Could you try a different approach and revisit your questions or concerns? Then, think about new ideas or concern you have. Make a plan to share those things with these new suggestions in mind.

  • Find the right person to approach
  • Consider your timing
  • Talk to them when they can give you their full attention
  • Come with possible solutions
  • Communicate that you would like their help and feedback

We hope these tips will help you put some of these situations back in your realm of control. If they don’t, be proud that you tried! At that point, you may have to re-evaluate how your organization’s listening skills contribute to your overall employee engagement and whether or not you should seek other opportunities.

Why You Need an Exit Survey Instead of Interviews

Exit Interview

When an employee leaves an organization, they take a lot of valuable information with them. Not only the insights about their work responsibilities or customers, but also valuable intel about their experience and the culture of the company. Leavers are in a unique position to summarize their employee experience, identify strengths and opportunities, and most importantly, share the reasons they’ve decided to leave. These insights can be used to improve the company. To make the most of this valuable information, employee exit feedback must be efficiently collected, organized, and analyzed. When they leave, an employee should be asked about their experience in a well-designed exit survey.

Many organizations attempt to gather exit feedback by asking questions in one-on-one exit interviews. While exit interviews can be productive and provide a positive sense of closure for employee and employer, they have several limitations that make it difficult to turn employee feedback into meaningful improvements for the organization. Exit interviews fail to address what I call, “the 3 C’s of Effective Exit Data” – they don’t provide candor, consistency, or comparability.

The 3 C's of Gathering Effective Exit Data

Exit surveys, on the other hand, excel at meeting the needs of the 3 C’s, and setting the stage for improvement. An effective exit approach, whether it utilizes interviews or not, should incorporate an effective exit survey. Let’s explore how surveys facilitate candor, consistency, and comparability.

Candor

Employee perceptions are only valuable for improvement if they are authentic and un-edited. Often when employees find themselves in a face-to-face interview, they hold back their true opinions or fail to bring up important topics that they may be uncomfortable discussing with HR or their manager. An exit survey provides greater psychological safety for an employee to freely respond to questions and express their true feelings. Candid feedback is key for improving an organization.

Consistency

Conducting exit interviews typically relies on an HR representative to personally facilitate each session. These sessions can vary greatly in the questions asked, the amount of time dedicated, how notes are captured, and even the overall tone of the meetings. Interviews are also difficult to scale as an organization grows or during periods of high turnover, such as during a RIF. Not so with exit surveys. The same exact survey experience can be provided for each employee with little or no involvement from HR and the survey can easily handle fluctuations in headcount. Ensuring that consistent questions are asked of each employee allows for greater usability of the data.

Comparability

How do you use the data once it’s collected? Interview data, even when it is collected in a consistent fashion, remains largely qualitative and can be difficult to analyze and trend. An effective exit survey approach compiles both quantitative and qualitative data into a tool that allows for meaningful discovery. At DecisionWise, we incorporate employee demographic or profile data in our exit surveys to make analysis even more powerful. Data should be comparable across departments, managers, locations, tenure groups, gender, etc. We also recommend flagging leavers as either regrettable or non-regrettable turnover. This allows for improved analysis of the areas where turnover is the most painful for the organization.

The true test of employee feedback lies in turning their input into meaningful actions and improved results. When an employee leaves your company, don’t miss out on the gift of their experience. Give employees a safe channel to express their thoughts and opinions. Give them a well-designed instrument and consistent experience. Honor their time and input by understanding and acting on their feedback. Give them an exit survey.

Podcast: Beyond Listening – Understanding and Embracing the Employee’s Voice

In this episode, we’re joined by a panel of DecisionWise consultants who discuss what managers can do to make sure their employees feel listened to and valued.

On our DecisionWise Employee Engagement Survey, we measure how well the organization is listening by asking the following questions to employees:

  • “I feel that I can share my ideas and opinions without fear of negative consequences.”
  • “We listen to and evaluate each other’s thoughts and opinions.”
  • “This organization values employees’ input, feedback, and suggestions.”
  • “The organization is responsive to ideas and suggestions for improvement.”

These insights help organizations to take action and create a more welcoming environment for ideas and opinions to be shared. Based on this data, our consultants share some ideas, stories and examples on what they’ve seen work for organizations.

This week’s episode was hosted by Cecily Jorgensen. Our panel of consultants includes Charles Rogel, Dan Hoopes, Beth Wilkins, Christian Nielson, and Dan Deka.

Podcast: Meet The Consultant – Thomas Olsen, MBA

In this episode, we sit down with DecisionWise Consultant, Thomas Olsen, MBA. We discuss his career and his approach towards engagement, consulting, and leadership.

Thomas is responsible for helping individuals, teams, and organizations see and move toward their potential. 

Prior to joining DecisionWise, Thomas worked in supply chain and finance at Sears Holdings in Chicago. He spent time in the SaaS industry selling and implementing 360 assessments and employee engagement solutions for Qualtrics. After his MBA he spent time as an HR Business Partner working with global leaders across Polaris Industries. He led change management projects and focused on facilitating employee growth.

Thomas 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 Strategy. Thomas was born and raised in Copenhagen, Denmark but has called the United States home for the past 13 years.

DecisionWise Releases The HR Analytics Playbook for Beginners

SPRINGVILLE, UTAH, USA- Employee engagement consulting firm, DecisionWise, announced today the release of The HR Analytics Playbook for Beginners.

“Good, quality data is the new oil. As a potential repository for employee data, HR is sitting on one of the largest oil fields a company has. Understanding how to collect, store, analyze, and interpret data is becoming one of the defining abilities that either makes or breaks HR as a strategic department in any company,” says Jefferson McClain, Research Coordinator.

Many HR professionals, however, struggle to understand exactly how to handle data. The HR Analytics Playbook for the Beginner delivers clear, succinct answers to many data questions and provides a great take-off point for anyone in business.

“We are pleased to offer a simple, yet effective handbook to help HR leaders begin the process of building a data analytics strategy and function. People Analytics is no longer a ‘nice to have’ for HR functions that want to be strategic in their offerings.  It’s an imperative,” says President of DecisionWise, Matthew Wride.

We can’t stress the importance of data analytics enough. Data, such as employee retention rates, engagement levels, or regional sales numbers, is of limited value until it has been integrated with other data points and transformed into insights that can illuminate problems and guide decision making. Data makes us smarter and reduces our tendency to rely on our “gut instincts.”

“This handbook is a simple way for an HR leader to acquaint themselves with the basics. We believe this whitepaper should be the starting point for most HR professionals who are new to the People Analytics revolution,” adds Wride.

The guide includes key concepts and vocabulary, breaks down both analytical processes and data strategy elements, and recommends a step-by-step roadmap to help HR professionals work on building their data strategy.

The guide is available as a free download: https://decision-wise.com/white-paper-the-hr-analytics-playbook-for-the-beginner/

DecisionWise is an employee engagement firm specializing in employee engagement at the organizational, team, and employee levels. DecisionWise services include employee engagement surveys, multi-rater feedback assessments, leadership coaching, talent assessment, and organization development. With a primary mission to improve individuals and organizations by turning feedback into results, DecisionWise was founded in 1996, and is privately held. The company has corporate offices in the United States and dedicated affiliate partners throughout the world.

DecisionWise Releases The HR Analytics Playbook for the Beginner

Employee engagement consulting firm, DecisionWise, announced today the release of The HR Analytics Playbook for Beginners. This guide delivers clear answers to many data questions and provides a starting point for many HR professionals who struggle to understand how to handle data.

SPRINGVILLE, UTAH, USA- Employee engagement consulting firm, DecisionWise, announced today the release of The HR Analytics Playbook for Beginners.

“Good, quality data is the new oil. As a potential repository for employee data, HR is sitting on one of the largest oil fields a company has. Understanding how to collect, store, analyze, and interpret data is becoming one of the defining abilities that either makes or breaks HR as a strategic department in any company,” says Jefferson McClain, Research Coordinator.

Many HR professionals, however, struggle to understand exactly how to handle data. The HR Analytics Playbook for the Beginner delivers clear, succinct answers to many data questions and provides a great take off point for anyone in business.

“We are pleased to offer a simple, yet effective handbook to help HR leaders begin the process of building a data analytics strategy and function. People Analytics is no longer a ‘nice to have’ for HR functions that want to be strategic in their offerings. It’s an imperative,” says President of DecisionWise, Matthew Wride.

We can’t stress the importance of data analytics enough. Data, such as employee retention rates, engagement levels, or regional sales numbers, is of limited value until it has been integrated with other data points and transformed into insights that can illuminate problems and guide decision making. Data makes us smarter and reduces our tendency to rely on our “gut instincts.”

“This handbook is a simple way for an HR leader to acquaint themselves with the basics. We believe this whitepaper should be the starting point for most HR professionals who are new to the People Analytics revolution.” adds Wride.

The guide includes key concepts and vocabulary, breaks down both analytical processes and data strategy elements, and recommends a step-by-step road map to help HR professionals work on building their data strategy.

The guide is available as a free download at: https://decision-wise.com/white-paper-the-hr-analytics-playbook-for-the-beginner/

DecisionWise is an employee engagement firm specializing in employee engagement at the organizational, team, and employee levels. DecisionWise services include employee engagement surveys, multi-rater feedback assessments, leadership coaching, talent assessment, and organization development. With a primary mission to improve individuals and organizations by turning feedback into results, DecisionWise was founded in 1996, and is privately held. The company has corporate offices in the United States and dedicated affiliate partners throughout the world.