Date: Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Time: 1:00 pm Eastern / 10:00 am Pacific


Christian Nielson, Chief Revenue Officer

Matthew Wride, President

In this webinar, our experts will share some of their favorite tips and techniques for strengthening employee experience and improving employee engagement. Whether you’re conducting your first employee survey or your fiftieth, you’ll gain proven ideas that are sure to benefit you and your organization.


Christian Nielson | 00:00

Alright, with no further ado, let’s jump into the content. And, uh, Matt may have mentioned people interact with our chat today. I’m gonna go ahead and go off camera just to save bandwidth and eliminate potential risk on my tech. Um, let’s, let’s jump in and we’re excited to talk about some of our favorite, uh, tips for improving employee engagement. Just a, a a quick review of the landscape. If you’ve been part of our, our sessions in the past, you may have seen or, or experienced some of these, these slides. I won’t dwell on them, but just to kind of level set, you know, we talk about culture, the employee experience and employee engagement, uh, culture. We’ve got more of a, a, a complete definition there. But the shorthand I always love is the way we do things around here. So, culture, the way we do things around here, when we add people to a culture, then we have an employee experience.

Christian Nielson | 00:56

The sum of perceptions employees have about their interactions with the organization in which they work or how we experience the culture. And then what we’re here to talk about, how we improve is employee engagement. You know, let’s look at that one here. It’s how we respond to the employee experience. Um, it’s our, an emotional state where we feel passion, energetic, and committed toward our work. In turn, we fully invest our best selves in the work that we do. It’s our response to the employee experience. And you’ve probably heard us use the language we build. We don’t build engagement directly. We invite it and we invite it by building an employee experience. And so, kind of at that, the, the end of the year here, we thought it’d be nice just to talk about some of the tips that, that we think are universally applicable to organizations to improve in, um, employee engagement, to strengthen that invitation to engage.

Christian Nielson | 01:44

So these should be items that, that apply across, across all organizations. So, um, we really did that, that tech glitch thing, just to see if, if people could interact with the chat. So we’re excited to see that you’re in the chat. We’re gonna have lots of room for, for folks to, to engage. We, we come to these sessions to share what we’re passionate about, what we’ve learned from this, uh, our experience working with organizations, but also to learn from your experience. So please, uh, we, we’d love for you to engage in the chat. Uh, so the first, the first item we wanted to talk about, the first tip is increase leadership visibility, uh, to improve employee engagement, increase leadership visibility. Before Matt and I jump in on this, uh, I wanna throw that out to the group. How might increased leadership visibility improve employee engagement? Um, I’m sure there’s some, some things we can intuitively track to that. But I’m curious about your own ex experience. Are, are there, what are the connections between visibility of leadership and, um, improved?

Matt Wride | 02:51

Yeah, Christian, while people, people are populating their answers in the chat. Uh, we saw this in Covid, right? We saw this as, uh, as leaders were forced to sort of be more transparent and almo sometimes they were, were dialing in and, and participating in Zoom calls, uh, from their homes. And people could see them with their dogs and their families and things. Uh, we saw this as a, as a spike in, um, in engagement. And part of it was attributable to leadership visibility.

Christian Nielson | 03:24

I a hundred percent that that’s exactly where my mind goes. We saw an amazing, uh, bump when, when in employee engagement and, and many organizational perceptions when leaders were out front, when people were, were hearing from them more interacting or seeing that, that stronger, uh, presence there. Going to the chat, I love that the first few comments talk about trust. That is so true. We’re gonna, we’re gonna look at that on the next slide as well. Breaks down walls for communication. If I feel that I know someone, I feel more connected and engaged, uh, helps employees feel like they’re, they’re seen by seeing leaders. We, we make the connection that they also see us. I love that. Um, being transparent. Leadership sets the pace in the direction. So it, it cascades, um, if the senior leaders are there, then we, that’ll cascade through, uh, middle management, down to frontline managers as well.

Christian Nielson | 04:15

So, uh, I, we’re all on the same wavelength here. Um, and the other thing we, we thought when we, we came up with these tips is we really want these to be very actionable. Uh, so many, there’s a lot of times an employee engagement survey raises some questions that we don’t know, you know? Exactly. Okay. How do we make this happen? The things we’re talking about today, any org should be able to, to move the needle on. Uh, increasing leadership visibility is, uh, a very practical thing. Um, but let’s, let’s look at this. So, and I, I, I love, as I mentioned, the trust thing. Here’s an item we often ask in surveys. Senior leaders are visible and accessible. Um, but there’s so many things that just improving any aspect, a small improvement on this improves a number of other items that we measure in surveys.

Christian Nielson | 05:03

You know, I’m confident that senior leaders will, uh, lead this organization to future success. Senior leaders care about employees. If I don’t see you, I assume you don’t care about me. Um, and, and, and that may or may not be true, uh, in terms of you might be, you know, losing sleep ’cause you worry about the employees so much. But if we’re not seeing you and feeling that, that a lot of times that vacuum of visibility, we, we start to assume the worst. Um, I’m confident we have the right people in, in leadership positions. It builds trust and confidence in leaders. I, I love the one that’s forth from the bottom. Senior leaders know what is going on in the organization when, when we see them, we assume they see us, they understand our struggle. They feel the, the, the, the pain at my level in the organization, whatever that may be. And that visibility is, is key for that.

Matt Wride | 05:54

No, the the question though is we have to break down visibility and accessibility. Both, you know, it’s actually a bit of a double barrel question, which we don’t love because there is the notion of being visible and sometimes that surveillance, and sometimes when you see the boss’s car in the parking lot, you’re like, oh, gotta be on best behavior, whatever. But the thing that we want to take the lesson from Covid, I think is about the accessibility, about being, uh, hu the, the leadership was humanized in a way. And I think that’s important. Um, so it isn’t just, and, and as you said, it’s about they’re there. They’re, they’re, they’ve got a equal share in the work. They’re, they’re also rowing with everyone else. Those are the type of things that we mean when we say they’re visible and accessible, not just sort of there and it, and, and kind of speaking from on high down to the, down to the employees, but they’re with the employees and participating kind of jointly in the effort.

Christian Nielson | 06:57

I love that. I, I, I think a really good point to, to make the distinction. We also, you kind of turn it back to the group too. If, if you’ve got very tactical ways to increase visibility, throw ’em in the chat. We could all learn from kind of your techniques. Some of the, you know, one way to look at it is structural and, and structured and unstructured. ’cause a lot of times they think, oh, we need more town halls or we need more. And, and that may be true, but I think there’s that unstructured piece too. Like, Hey, are you, you know, I, I, I’m thinking through a debrief I had with a, a, a 360 leader and they had some, um, some scores that indicated kind of this disconnect or this gap. And a lot of it was, I, you know, it ultimately came down to, oh, I park on this side of the building and it, I go right to my office.

Christian Nielson | 07:41

I’m gonna start parking on the other side and walk through the floor and, and make some connections and have it be a little bit more of an organic, uh, connection. And, and that, that can be a little bit hard thing, harder to script, but it’s important. And it, the little things go a long ways in terms of just having some of those more informal moments with people. You could also do things like skip level or skip skip level and, and, and connect that way. Um, and all those things add up to some increased, um, uh, visibility. Yeah.

Matt Wride | 08:10

Crystal mentioned, uh, job shadowing. Uh, that’s an excellent, I, uh, leadership that finds you, as you said, these sort of, um, unstructured ways to, to meet, whether those are lunches, uh, brown bags in the break room. Those are all, all valuable. One time we had a, uh, we had to get a lot of boxes by FedEx out. It was a big paper survey for a large manufacturing client, had boxes and boxes. And I remember jumping in and helping fill out, um, forms, uh, via FedEx, uh, online. Uh, I learned a lot. <laugh> learned a ton by just by jumping in and, and helping fill out forms. So those are, for me, it was a great experience. But I also think I built a, a measure of kind of bonding with everybody that day when we’re just hurriedly writing out forms. So

Christian Nielson | 09:03

I, I love, I love that. I also enjoy the rest of Crystal’s comment around the hospital, CEO, putting on scrubs, observing, you know, surgery in the or. We, we’ve heard stories about Amazon executives working in fulfillment centers and things like that. And I, I think that goes a long way in, in a number of things. It’s, it’s symbolically important. It also builds that trust and understanding both ways. Uh, you know, since Crystal mentioned hospitals, my, I worked in healthcare for, uh, quite a while. And, um, one thing I, I love the healthcare in the healthcare world is rounding, you know, going out and, and being among folks and just using that concept of whether we’re in healthcare or not, you know, getting out of our office, uh, and, and, and being around the, the different departments and teams is, it goes a long ways.

Matt Wride | 09:48

Yeah. Now, when we were talking about this tip we both mentioned, one of the concerns we have is, we’re, we’re in is that our audience may say, great, but how do we get senior leaders to buy in? How do we get those to, to see the value? And the answer is, is you, you need to include questions like this on your survey and use it as, say, this is a, uh, you call it a statistical driver, uh, Christian. But this is a statistical driver of engagement. Meaning it’s one of those core items that, uh, that really drives engagement. And so use the data to make your case. So if you’re not asking some form of this question, this one or senior leaders know what’s going on in the organization, you’re probably missing your best argument as to why leaders didn’t need to do this.

Christian Nielson | 10:37

Uh, I a really great point. It, and you get some survey data and it really puts an exclamation point around this, this, if I can go back to that item, I really like fourth from the bottom. I should have maybe called that out more on the slide. Senior leaders know what is going on in the organization. That one, I’ve had so many interesting debriefs with executives. ’cause they, you can see them almost injured by that item if it score low and they think, oh, they don’t know. They don’t think I know what I’m doing here. That’s how they read that question. But that we find that the people that are taking the survey, different levels in the organization are really saying, we don’t think you know what we’re doing. And, and, and so it, it’s an interesting disconnect. There’s a real need for this visibility.

Christian Nielson | 11:19

Uh, Tom brings up MBWA, which I believe is managed by walking around. It’s a great thing to, to throw out there if, if you’re just, you know, locked in your office every day. And we, and we’ve seen some amazingly scary examples where executives wall off or, or even have a separate location where they meet away from from employees. Uh, those things matter symbolically. And also just in the transfer of information and trust, uh, those, those things really matter. All right, let’s, let’s jump to our, our second tip here. Uh, and thank you for the, the interaction create a compelling future or comp compelling vision of the future. This one’s really interesting and, and, and years ago when I first got into employee engagement and, and the type of work we do, I really underestimated the importance of this. Um, but create a compelling vision for the future of the organization. Uh, uh, again, we’ll throw to the group, we’re gonna do this on each one. You know, why does this matter? I mean, it matters for the organization in terms of are, do do we have a strategy? Are we going to win? Um, but why, how does that tie into engagement?

Matt Wride | 12:29

You know, Christian, um, there’s this belief sometimes that, that this, this survey exercises we go through, uh, trying to giving voice to our employees, that that’s just something you do on the periphery. But there have been a few clients where I’ve said, where we get this question back about, um, you know, I have confidence in this organization’s future. And if that’s low, we just sort of shut, we can just shut our, our laptops and say, don’t worry about anything else. Just fix this <laugh> <laugh>. And, and then you really start talking to leaders really directly. Like, I can show you all this data, but it doesn’t, isn’t gonna change anything. You can’t, you can’t window dress your way around this particular question. It has to be direct. He, you know, you can, perks don’t drive engagement. Right. You said that you’ve never found a perk to be a driver of engagement.

Christian Nielson | 13:25

Yeah. Yeah. They, they, they, they’re part of the mix. The equa, uh, you know, the, the, the, the bigger ecosystem. But they’re never the drivers, uh, statistically of, of engagement. In fact, you know, uh, they’re things that we enjoy, but, and if they’re taken away, there’s a perceived loss. But there’s other things that matter more to employees. I, I think rocks, rocks, nailed it. People wanna be on a winning team, you know, uh, talking to our consultants and, and my, certainly my experience, uh, you know, Dave Long, one of our consultants, he, he was, he calls this out in a big way. And when he’s working with a leadership team, if people aren’t responding favorably to this, he said, before you address anything else, you’ve gotta, you’ve gotta either, either you have a strategy that’s solid, but people don’t understand it, or haven’t heard it, don’t believe in it, or you don’t have a strategy, or there’s some kind of disconnect.

Christian Nielson | 14:19

And it is really difficult to, to overcome a lack of clarity and a lack of hope and belief in a, in a positive future together. So it, you know, it, it may sound very simple, but one of the best things you can do for the employee engagement is win or at least have a compelling plan to win. You know, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s always sunny, but people get really nervous and want to, to start looking outside or looking at other options, or even just disengaging within the organization if they feel like there’s no strategy, there’s no solid plan to succeed. People wanna be part of a, a of a winning team.

Matt Wride | 14:55

You know, Mike, Mike Wilson mentioned that meaning is part of our work, right? And we, we a lot of times go to meaning as mission driven. And, but what I found, as you said over the years, meaning can be derived from just being part of a successful organization, right? You’re proud to say who you work for in your community. You’re proud that your organization’s successful because it’s a type of, um, validation and, and there’s a lot of value and a lot of meaning. So sometimes, instead of just looking for ways to try to build meaning based on, you know, we did this great thing, sometimes it’s just win baby, right? <laugh>

Christian Nielson | 15:35

E Exactly. And so that’s why it’s, it’s so foundational that if, if, and, and a lot of the conversation at the top of the organization is, have we communicated a clear path for us to succeed? And are people buying into that? Uh, and, and what’s even scarier? Are we buying in at the, at the senior leadership level? Are they buying in, you know, because if there’s confusion and dysfunction at the top, it, it only grows as you go throughout the rest of the organization.

Matt Wride | 16:01

And this is an excellent use of poll surveys. I’m not a fan of poll surveys that just retread the annual survey, but I’m a huge fan of surveys that say, where, where we test a communication initiative to see if it, if it was received, to see if we’re on the same page with our employees to ask them, do you feel like we’re winning? So I’m a big fan of those sort of spot, uh, surveys or poll surveys in this context.

Christian Nielson | 16:25

Yeah, definitely. It, it’s a once, once you identify a, a, a challenge with this being able to monitor success. Are we getting that message out there? Are we getting better? Are we getting worse? I, I, I think it’s a good call out. Pulses help. And, and it’s an important thing to get this moving because there’s, there’s something I call the win engage flywheel. Uh, there’s just this, this positive momentum when when employees engage, when they, when they dive in, they bring more of that discretionary effort and their innovation, their ideas, they, they bring more of their best selves to the work, the organization’s more likely to win. And when the organization’s more likely to win, employees are more likely to engage. And so you can get this thing spinning and it grows and supports itself. But I could have also, Dr created a, a scarier wheel that goes the other way when we’re losing and, and, uh, there doesn’t feel like there’s, there’s a plan to win.

Christian Nielson | 17:15

Uh, we’re less likely to engage when we are less likely to engage, that we’re less likely to win, and it gets worse and worse. And so we wanna get this spinning in the right direction. And so creating that compelling, uh, path for, for success is so important. Then there’s another piece to this, which is also, it’s not enough to say, Hey, this organization’s gonna win. We have to make sure that employees understand that they win with the organization. There’s that personal pride and meaning, but only if they understand. I’m part of this. And, and a big part of this, you know, if we go back to our magic framework that we, we often talk about and we love is meaning, autonomy, growth, impact, and connection. There’s the meaning the impact piece, but there’s also this growth. Stay with us and you’ll grow in advance. We’re winning. We’re growing as an organization. You have a bright future with us. Um, that is a, is a, a big part of that compelling future.

Matt Wride | 18:05

I shared with you an anecdote, um, that I wanted to bring up for our audience is, um, a company that went, was announcing that they had gone to unlimited PTO and it was in an effort. Their recruiting efforts had fallen off. They felt like they were stagnant. And, and the person telling me about, it’s like, yeah, things have been kind of plateauing for us. And so we’re doing this to try to get good people. And I’m like, don’t plateau and you’ll get good people. Right? And I know that’s hard. I know it’s really hard to grow. We’re, we know how hard it is to succeed. So we’re not, I’m not trying to oversimplify or kind of just, uh, be glib about something that’s really difficult, but this is a great tool to talk to leaders. We, we, we want an engaged work workforce. We need to have a winning strategy.

Christian Nielson | 18:53

Yeah. Well, and I, I’m glad you brought that up. We, we don’t wanna be completely Pollyanna like, it, it’s very simple for us on here to say, all you have to do is win. Um, but it’s so hard, <laugh>, it, it, it, it is hard. And a lot goes into that, and bad things happen. Markets change. Um, yep. And, and there’s reduction in force and there’s things, but just knowing that it’s important that even through the hard times, we have a, a clear strategy and communicate the plan to get back on track, uh, and to, to adjust and correct. And because it’s, it’s part of the engagement equation.

Matt Wride | 19:27

Yeah. But this is a good time when sometimes leaders say, oh, hr, you’re supposed to go handle that. You say, I need your help. <laugh> <laugh>, you’re a big component of this. This isn’t just on me. So, yeah.

Christian Nielson | 19:38

Yeah. There’s so much that has to happen at that top for it to, to, uh, to, especially in this space, uh, a frontline manager can’t set the strategy. They can offer feedback and hopefully, you know, good ideas bubble up to the top, but there’s, um, the, the influence at the top is really needed here. Alright. All right. Let’s look at our, our third tip here. This is, this is a one that we know and love build org first managers. And I put a, I put a hundred B,

Matt Wride | 20:09

Is that, is that one of your own bees? Did you go out and and photograph one of your own bees? <laugh>?

Christian Nielson | 20:14

Let me look at that. It does look like one of mine, uh, <laugh>. Um, I, I do keep bees, but I, I put a, I put a bee there because I, I challenge you to find more of an org first, uh, employee than, than a a honeybee. Um, but this, this concept of org first, and we’re gonna spend a little more time on this one because I think it’s a little more nuanced. This is one of my favorite models that’s come out of decision wise in the last few years. This, and we’ll, we’ll go through it in, in detail, but essentially in org first managers, someone who rides for the brand, right? Who, who represents the organization’s agenda needs and best interests in, in interactions with their own team. Um, and, and we’ll talk about that. But before we, we go through kind of our understanding and our, our, uh, kind of model on this. You know, what, why is that important? How does that, you know, if I’m, if I’m putting the org first, does that sound like propaganda to the, to the, to the employee? How is that really good for the employee’s engagement? If I’m at that an org first manager, so again, throw it to the group. Uh, I’d love to hear, hear anything on this or even, um, any challenges to this too, would, it would be welcome. But it’s an interesting, it’s an interesting, uh, lens to look through and a good excuse to, to put

Matt Wride | 21:33

A b, so maybe to help people out while they’re responding, we, we classify ’em org first, team first and me first. So maybe that’ll help kind of, um, you know, prime the pump a little bit as they think about that question. Yep. So we, we’ve got a sense of building community. Danielle mentioned that that’s, that’s for sure a sense of community.

Christian Nielson | 21:57

Yep. And definitely. And, and, and others, as others go in. Uh, and thoughts on this, this is, this is such a really interesting way to look at it. Uh, in fact, maybe, maybe let’s just dive in on this and if there’s more thoughts on it, please keep ’em coming. And then also start thinking through techniques to build org First managers as we get further into this, but a me first manager, that one’s kind of easy to, to understand the, the trade offs or the downside of this. And they’re also easy to spot, um, a me first manager. They’re putting their own needs ahead of, of everybody ahead of their team, ahead of the organization. They take credit for the work of their team, puts personal desires ahead of the, and needs ahead of the desires of the team, use scorched earth tactics and manages up, uh, you know, cares what their boss thinks. ’cause they’re, they’re only worried about their own success and their own needs. The results, they’ll burn out that team. Um, it’ll create high turnover. Who wants to work for this person? You know, they’re not long for the world in, in most ca cases because the, the antibodies quickly identify what it is and, and, and spit it out. Uh, but sometimes unfortunately, they, they do kind of fail up and move around a bit, that type of thing. But

Matt Wride | 23:14

We first managers are, are problematic because for a little while they’ll be very successful because they’re so goal oriented. They will drive change, they will make things happen. But it’s sort of like, but the long-term consequences come, start to bubble up pretty quick. But at first you’re going to, you’re not gonna realize what you have in a me first manager.

Christian Nielson | 23:36

Yeah. E exactly. They, they, they can even be bright stars for a moment or appear to be,

Matt Wride | 23:42

Which is why I don’t like to do three sixties right. When, when someone becomes a manager. But I love to do ’em about a six months to a year after, because we can start, we can start listening and we’ll, we’ll know the tenants. We’ll start to see signs of a me first manager in that timeframe. So just you onboard someone, give them six months and then maybe you, you you’ll start to see some signs. Yeah.

Christian Nielson | 24:06

And, uh, you know, a tagline or a statement we often say is, what experience am I creating and is it the right experience? And as an organization or as an individual, and you think through the, the experience that this me first manager creates, and it is, it, it is not one that is sustainable or good for the organization in, in the Mm-Hmm. Long run. Uh, and also for most of us, intuitively we know it’s bad. Um, but what’s interesting is this second category, team First Manager. Team first manager, that doesn’t sound so bad. Um, a team first manager, you know, they protects the team members from other parts of the organization and sometimes from the organization itself, prioritizes team goals over organization goals, sacrifices personally for the team, plays the role of Team Hero or Team Martyr. Um, the results, strong relationships between the manager and the team that, that, those, those teammates really connect to that manager. And that seems like a good thing, but it’s at the, at, at some real expense to their own experience and to the organization. It creates silos, it creates, uh, high team connection and low organizational connection. I’ve seen this so many times in, in employee survey data. In fact, it’s one of my, uh, go-to exercises. I sort it, and I can see where someone has a high team or high manager score and really low org scores and, and that. Yeah. And

Matt Wride | 25:31

What else do we see? Low engagement scores on the team, interestingly. Yeah. Right. And often if we can get performance data, we’ll see poor performance. So you can find these because, because if with the well-crafted survey, you can, you can understand the connection between the org and the connection with the team.

Christian Nielson | 25:50

And, and the interesting thing is, on the outside, this seems virtuous. In fact, the biggest risk for this are first time managers. Oh, yeah. Especially if they’re managing former peers. You know, these people. And now I’m a manager. I want these, these people that I care about to respect me and love me. And, and so if I get a har a, a directive from the organization, and me first managers delivering that as, Hey, I don’t like it, either those guys upstairs are telling us to do this, but, you know, we’ll make it happen. You know, I’m throwing the organization under the bus and in, in an effort. And I, and it even feels like I’m doing a virtuous thing to me. ’cause I care about my team so much. A lot of first time managers default to, to team first,

Matt Wride | 26:32

Right? So a recommendation of ours is to get in there and model, or as we’ll talk about org first management styles early with new, with new, um, newly promoted managers. But if you see commiseration that what happens is you commiserate and you’re actually, you’re hurting meaning and impact is those key drivers because you’re, you’re actually taking the team and you’re saying, Hey, we’re just this team. And, and, and you’re isolating them from the purpose of the organization. We consulted with the healthcare organization that does really great work. They save lives every day, and yet their meaning scores were down. And it was because of a swath of me first managers who spent every, who got everybody focused on how they weren’t being taken care of instead of back to the, the fact that it is that sometimes there are problems at work, but look at what we do. They, they were missing that step of, of delivering high quality healthcare.

Christian Nielson | 27:30

And, and I, I think there’s a lot of, this goes back to what are we telling people when we promote them to be a manager? Are we helping them understand part of your role is to advocate for the organization and, and, and, and doesn’t mean to be a propaganda machine, but it does mean to think broadly, represent and understand the, the needs of the organization and communicate those to, to the organiz, to your team in a, in a fair way without, uh, you know, putting a spin that’s self-serving. A,

Matt Wride | 27:59

A sports metaphor, I often try to share with new managers is once you become a manager, you’re switching locker rooms. And if you keep your locker room the same as you had, you’re gonna be a team first manager. But if you understand that your locker room now represents those, your peers, your and others, as you try to move this organization forward, is you try to be a positive force for leadership and, and driving positive results. You have a different locker room.

Christian Nielson | 28:25

Well, and, and kind of going into that locker room, it’s interesting because Team First is, is almost a misnomer because it feels like I’m team first. It feels like I’m doing what’s right for my employees, but long term you’re not, because you mentioned it earlier, engagement’s actually lower for a team First manager, uh, because, uh, and, and these aren’t, this isn’t something we just came up with at lunch, or, you know, intuitively thought, oh, this sounds good. This came directly from our data when we, when we were truly trying to look at, um, uh, what’s driving engagement and looking at some of, some of the less obvious connections that could only be revealed through, you know, deeper statistics in our database, we saw that it’s, you know, the organization, the, the best thing a manager can do for their teams’ engagement is positively connect them back to the organization, connect them back to this deeper sense of, you’re, you’re part of something big and special, and you have an impact here and a future here.

Christian Nielson | 29:19

Versus, Hey, we’re in this together as a team. It’s us against them. Uh, that, that doesn’t serve the individual. Like it, like, it may feel like in the short term long term, it’s, it’s really going to, uh, shortchange their experience there. Right? In fact, let’s look, let’s look at, at the, the, uh, org First manager an org First manager advocates for organizational vision, values and decisions, prioritize organization goals over team goals, and aligns those goals. I I saw some comments there around alignment. Yeah. Org first, managers help build alignment. And, uh, for us to, to move the needle as an organization, we need teams that are pulling in the right direction, same direction. Uh, treats management team is a primary team. That locker room thing is so important. If you, uh, you know what, that’s a really interesting exercise with executives. Ask them, who’s your primary team? They’re like, well, I’m over finance. It’s this, it’s a finance team. I’m over this, I’m over this. Versus, as you’re a team in, in that group, um, yes, you have all these important stakeholders, these people you care about and, and want to, you know, support and advocate for. All those things are, are true, but you need alignment and connection, uh, with those, with your peers. At that same level, that management team is so important.

Christian Nielson | 30:39

Um, looks to build employee relationships with the organization. You know, connecting people back to that mothership or to the larger, uh, initiative, the larger entity and the results. A sense of organizational belonging. You know, if you’ve been on any of these, you know how much we, we talk about belonging. We’re building belonging, and belonging fosters engagement. When I feel like I belong, I naturally engage in something. And, and it’s hard for me to feel a deep sense of that if I’m only belonging at the team level versus the full, um, the full organization, let’s look at this next one. If I can find my mouse. There we go. Uh, engaged team, uh, it results in engaged team. That’s easy to mo motivate. It’s, it’s self-driving there that it, that if they’re connected to the organization, that they’re gonna engage. They’re gonna feel that deeper sense of responsibility there. Discretionary effort is gonna flow. So I, I love this model. I come back to it more, more and more in my 360 debriefs. It’s a lens I’m looking at engagement data with. It’s a, it’s a lens. I’m looking at myself, uh, as a manager. When I talk to my team, did I soften a message because I I wanted to make it easier for me? Or am I advocating for the organization? Am I connecting our department to the other departments? Am I connecting them to the larger strategy?

Matt Wride | 32:02

Yeah. You know, I haven’t met a function that’s really superfluous. And like, organizations don’t spend money on departments that don’t have a function. Workforce managers get that. And so they’re able to see their value and paint that picture for, um, their team members, team first managers that actually don’t see it. They have a hard time seeing it. Sometimes they say they don’t, you know, they don’t value us or that, but, but there isn’t anybody whether you are helping, you know, learning and development, whether you’re finance and, and properly recording the, the transactions and making sure that we have a, a visibility into what the organization is doing. Nobody’s not important. Yeah. Just otherwise they wouldn’t be paid

Christian Nielson | 32:47

<laugh>. Right? And, and, and so part of that, to that, to that end, is understanding the one, the needs of the organization, but understanding other teams’ roles and understanding, okay, what’s our connection to that, that other function, and how do we understand and support them? And, and, you know, understanding those, the interconnectedness across the org and a team first manager isn’t, isn’t doing that. And it, it really limits what’s possible from an operational and an engagement standpoint. All right. This next one is a big one, uh, for engagement. And it’s related to that. You, we want workforce managers and we really want all managers to be holding one-on-ones and ideally effective one-on-ones. But I, I say ideally, because we have data that supports, even if they’re not perfect, one-on-ones still help with engagement and this connection, this sense of driving, uh, bringing them into the organization. But before I, I get into that, how do, how do we see, or how do you see, uh, one-on-ones manager, one-on-ones move the needle on engagement. What role do they play in, in the, in the puzzle here?

Christian Nielson | 34:00

It’s interesting because these are, these are often the first thing that, the first meeting that gets rescheduled. I’m guilty of it. If a conflict comes up, you know, your team’s usually understanding. It’s like, it’s, it’s like rescheduling with family is easier than, uh, outsiders in a lot of cases. Um, and so it’s a, a lot of times it gets deprioritized, but we feel it’s really important for the engagement provides an understanding of bandwidth and support. So there’s, there’s that depth of I care and about your needs. I understand your needs, but I, you know, I even threw that word care in. It’s an opportunity to listen, coach and redirect. I like that. Listen, coach and redirect. Very good.

Matt Wride | 34:44

Yeah, it’s a great word. Um, that Timothy used Coach, um, it’s a great, great way to view yourself as a leader of people is to remember you’re trying to helpt and, and John Wooden, the legendary UCLA, uh, basketball coach said that coach is just another word for teacher teach.

Christian Nielson | 35:05

I like that

Matt Wride | 35:05

Teach guide help. You know, and in one-on-ones is your best session. It’s your best chance to have a mentoring sort of classic, um, you know, tutoring session. Uh, but if they’re just, how you doing? Good. Tell me about stuff, you know, teach. If, if you don’t have a, an agenda item, then just teach.

Christian Nielson | 35:27

Yeah. Well, and, and I think you, if one more sports analogy out of you, and we’re, we’re calling you coach, ride for the duration of the <laugh>.

Matt Wride | 35:34

Alright, I’ll stop.

Christian Nielson | 35:36

No, I like it. <laugh>. I like it. Wasn’t, wasn’t trying to deter it. They’re effective. I, I, I go to ’em as well. I, I, I love, so, you know, going back to Timothy’s comment, I like that word. Listen, you know, we we’re obviously big believers in the need to listen to employees. It’s what our whole business is around. Uh, but we have a lot of data that supports, I feel cared for when I feel heard. Even if you don’t do everything, I, you know, my ideas aren’t, you know, implemented. If I feel like someone’s listening to me or, or I feel like I have a voice I feel cared about, I feel like I’m part of the organization. It builds that connection. Lindsay calls out, uh, Tom talks about the improved interactions, stronger bonds, trust and engagement. I, I agree across the board. It, it’s, it’s an opportunity to, to hear information. It’s an opportunity to, to, uh, coach and redirect. It’s an opportunity to give performance data and saying, Hey, you know, there’s areas you’re not meeting expectations, and how can we work together on it?

Matt Wride | 36:34

When we talk about listening too, we’re not using it in the negative sense of surveilling your employees. It’s in that heard sense, giving voice, letting them have the opportunity to, to help, to, to bridge that gap between what their experience is and what you may or may not know. Yeah.

Christian Nielson | 36:52

And it’s showing that they’re important. You’re important enough to be here, not only for performance and to understand, you know, make sure you’re aligned with what we need to have happen. But to talk about your growth, growth goals, uh, I was in a, I was in a meeting once with, uh, where, um, I think there was like 300 managers and we were training on, on manager one-on-ones, and taught what role they play in growth and development. And in the middle of, uh, of the session, the CEO stood up and he had one of those powerful CEO voices that, um, that just kind of stopped the traffic. <laugh> the room got quiet. And he said, if, if you don’t understand the, the goals and hopes and dreams of your employees, you’re failing them. And a lot of that happens in one-on-ones around, you know, what are we working on? What, where do you want to go? Where do you wanna be today? What does this job mean to you at, you know, how can I support that? That’s, it doesn’t necessarily need to be the headline in every single one, but, you know, it’s a, it’s a chance to understand Yeah. And connect that way.

Matt Wride | 37:54

And, you know, I’m a believer in a balanced approach with one-on-ones. I think they have to be partially about the work. I think you have to give some time to talk about what you’re trying to accomplish. Redirecting feedback was, was there coaching people up, but also then these other conversations are vital too. So, um, you ought to consider an agenda. Um, a friend of mine who worked at Google said, no agenda. No agenda. And <laugh>. So <laugh>. So like he said, that was a, a, a, a motto there. But anyway,

Christian Nielson | 38:27

Mike, Mike makes the, the point that of these can be, it can be helpful to separate it from a performance conversation. That’s, that’s true. That’s true. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not giving some of that redirecting feedback in the, in the flow of conversation, but how formal that becomes a performance conversation that can, that can change the tone of the, the conversation. But,

Matt Wride | 38:45

But regularity is the thing. I don’t think we hit this when we, when we check on rounding or how often this happens, the curve is this way. So once a, once a month’s better than, than none. And, but twice a month is better than once a month. And weekly begins to be that sweet spot. So regularity is important.

Christian Nielson | 39:05

Yep. Uh, agreed. Agreed. And, um, I think the first step is just seeing where they’re happening. You know, one, some organizations we work with, and we’ve done different levels of surveying on it. Not every organization survey specifically on this, but if they capture the frequency, like in the last six months, I’ve had a conversation with my manager to talk about growth. That’s a big period of time. Six months. Have you talked to your manager at all about your growth? If you even ask a broad question like that, that can give you a sense of, of where this is happening. And often, uh, in fact, I can’t think of an example where this hasn’t happened that ties directly to higher engaged teams. Um, if those man manager one-on-ones are happening. Uh, my, my sense of connection to the org, my sense of engagement, my belief in senior leaders, uh, goes up, a lot of wonderful things happen as a result of one-on-ones.

Christian Nielson | 39:55

And then if you build on top of that for the increased frequency and, and, um, efficacy, um, a lot of managers don’t know how to have a one-on-one. Um, you know, doing some simple training. Get building an outline. Here’s some of the things you might talk about. Here’s some do’s and don’ts. Those types of things. Build, build, um, enablement and engagement on, on the, the need to have those. It’s, it’s, uh, pretty powerful. Alright, tip five, our last one actually, we have, we’ve got, uh, five of these. And this is one I’d love to hear. Since we have so many folks that attend these, that work in different industries, have different concept of what a customer is. I think it’d be really interesting. And, and on this one specifically, I’d love ideas. Uh, uh, uh, we’ll ask how this, well, I’ll getting ahead of myself.

Christian Nielson | 40:44

Uh, I, we’ll ask how, but I also wanna know what you’re doing to help connect us. So connect employees to the customer, connect them to the customer. Not all of us are customer facing. Uh, and sometimes often we start out customer facing and we move into management, move into different roles, or maybe we’re part of a function that is far removed from, from customers. Um, but, and also I want to open it up that, that concept of customer differs. Uh, I mentioned I worked in healthcare, the patient was our customer. Uh, and, and you know, that changes the, the, the sense of the work as, as well. But, uh, but I guess the first reason, why does that matter? You know, we’re, you know, I can find a rewarding career working internally and never interacting with a, a culture can’t or a customer can’t. I what, why is it important to connect the dots? Does, uh, between an employee’s efforts and their impact on the customer?

Matt Wride | 41:46

We here have a team that’s quality assurance for our software development. And it, if we don’t take the time to help them realize that we want our, we want people to have a, a, a delighted full experience using the software. The best thing that, one, the biggest ways we delight ’em is if it works as intended <laugh>, and as if, and if it, um, is fast. And so when we can tell our team that and make sure they understand that they, they get a sense I am serving the customer. I believe humans, most humans want to be helpful to other humans. And so we, when we feel that our work is helpful to others, we, we, we function and do better.

Christian Nielson | 42:31

Yeah. I, I think, I think that’s well said. And Christine put in the comment, impact and mission. Uh, EE exactly. In fact, um, that’s, that’s where I go with this. You know, I go back to our magic framework. In fact, I think I got it. I’ve got it on the next slide. Um, magic, the, and, and here’s a copy of the, the book written by our CEO Tracy Mele. It’s, it’s, you got some wonderful depth on this, but magic stands for meaning, autonomy, growth, impact, and connection. Uh, that sense of impact is so important. Um, how do I know what I do matters? Um, and it’s one thing I know I’m getting paid. I know, you know, there might be some sense of I’m checking things off a task list, but where’s this all going? Where is this effort going? Um, in, in magic, he, and by the way, we consultants love a two by two.

Christian Nielson | 43:26

Um, we love a two by two. So, uh, if we, uh, in the book, uh, Tracy includes a two by two, which I, I I really enjoy and really appreciate and use, uh, where we look at effort and impact and we go from low to high. So if, if, if our experience is low effort and low impact, that down here, that really kinda leads to a sense of apathy. You know, I’m not, you know, I’m not doing much, but it’s not doing anything. What’s the point of any of this? Um, if, if it goes above that and we, we have, um, high impact, or, or at least the company has high impact on the customer, but I’m not really a part of that. And I’ve, I’ve had roles like this where, you know, what I’m doing doesn’t really tie into the, the impact of the organization.

Christian Nielson | 44:13

I might have an important role, but I can’t see how anyone else sees that or how it impacts any kind of customer. Um, then it’s like, well, I’ll just keep going. Uh, but it’s, it’s not, it’s not driving me to become more, or to bring more of my myself. If we go the other, uh, diagonal, here we go. Uh, we have burnout if it’s high effort, but low impact. And, and many of us unfortunately have experienced this where we’re, we’re pushing ourselves hard. We’re doing a lot, but it’s not going anywhere that we can see or feel or, uh, nobody’s noticing or, or experiencing it. Uh, a lot of times I, I, and I bring the customer into this conversation because, um, well, let’s look at the, the top one here. If it’s high impact, high for high effort, um, that’s, that’s a recipe for, for, for engagement.

Christian Nielson | 45:02

Um, and a lot of the ways we can, we can help people feel that, um, one, we can look at jobs and, and roles and things and, and make sure they’re, they’re properly created and aligned and everything. But in most a lot of cases, it’s can we connect the dots from what they’re doing to the patient, um, or the customer rather? Um, can we understand and recognize that impact? I think your QA examples really great. Um, and, and that’s something that takes extra effort for us to say, Hey, our QA team doesn’t interact directly with our customers, but how are we giving feedback to them? Like, wow, they’re blown away. You know, so and so clients said that they had this experience with the, with the, our technology, and it wouldn’t have happened without you catching this or this effort that builds impact and a sense of recognition and, and meaning in the work.

Christian Nielson | 45:49

Um, I, I used the example when I worked in healthcare. I was in organizational development, which I loved, but I was removed from patient. And mid time, uh, year when our, our kind of, my halfway through my tenure with the organization, this was Intermountain Healthcare, they said they made a change. It was interesting. They said, we, we don’t call our employees employees anymore. We call all our employees caregivers. I’m like, well, I, I’m nowhere near employees. I’m doing, you know, team effectiveness. I’m doing more coaching and consulting, organizational development stuff. Uh, if I’m interacting with the patients, it’s only because I’ve become a patient. Uh, it, it, it, that wasn’t my role. It wasn’t clinical, but just giving that sense of, oh, what I’m doing directly impacts patients by, uh, you know, I’m, I’m impacting the way the caregiver or the direct caregivers are impacting with them. That helped me bring meaning to my work. Uh, Matt talks about, uh, uh, uh, manufacturing experience that he had. I don’t know if that’s a story you wanna share, Matt. Uh,

Matt Wride | 46:51

I was just headed into college. I needed a summer job. I went to work for Kimberly Clark, and we made diapers. We made Huggies diapers at this facility. And I think because I could find my way around a computer, I was put to the lab and it was a boring job. And I was tired. And many times, ’cause this was a, a graveyard shift, one day someone said, well, why are you doing all this work in the lab? Because I would cut apart a diaper. I would test the strength of the glue and all this stuff. And I’m like, I, I don’t know. So the machines don’t break down. And this person said, uh, no, it’s so that a tab doesn’t fall off and become a choking hazard for a child. And then all of a sudden I went from making machines not break down to saving babies. And I mean, I joke, but it actually really mattered because I was way more careful because I thought, look, especially in those certain areas, if that tab comes off and becomes a choking hazard, like that’s not gonna happen on my watch. So

Christian Nielson | 47:52

<laugh>, that’s such a great, I I, I’ve, I’m glad you’d share that. I’ve come back to that several times. And we have examples of manufacturing clients that, that bring in posters of their, um, of the, the end customers using their, their products. And, you know, the, some of some things you, you would think are, are more symbolic, but it, it really helps, uh, uh, um, bring depth to the experience. Uh, uh, your experience is wonderful. It changes, changed your whole frame of what you were doing. Uh, you were doing the same job, but you had a different outlook on it. And so, and it also takes some deliberate effort in a lot of cases. ’cause employees in many, sometimes they will, sometimes they won’t, but in most cases, they won’t draw those connections themselves. Um, and this is also a really great one for looking for positive deviance, meaning go find the ones who figured it out.

Christian Nielson | 48:41

You know, why is this more meaningful to this employee doing the same job as this? Ask them their story. And a lot of times they’ll say, ’cause I’m saving babies. Oh, that’s something we can help other employees realize. Or you can kind of spread what’s working in, in this effort. But, uh, I, I’m thinking through, um, uh, a, a client I worked with for a number of years, rocket Software, and they had really high engagement, and I, it, and I worked with them for a number of years, and I, I loved going there. And, and over time, it took me a while to realize, I’m like, oh, everyone, everyone in this organization looks outward. They’re all looking at the client, the customer experience. Um, and that, that seems, um, you know, a little bit counterintuitive that they, they, they spent all their time focused on the customer, even at every level of the organization. And that meant their job was so much more meaningful. And, and also their business was wildly successful. So it was, it was a really great experience and a learning example of, of this where you, you, they, they really leaned into the sense of, of impact. They have a, a any role in the organization.

Matt Wride | 49:48

You know, Christian, these five tips as we wind down, they feel a little simplistic, but they’re kind of like, when you go to your doctor and he says, oh, diet, an exercise will improve your life. Uh, we’re kind of saying that <laugh>, that you want the biggest wins. It’s not, it’s not fun to talk. I mean, I’m sure you’d rather hear us talk about AI and how, you know, we’re gonna use ai, generative AI to improve employee engagement. And no, it, it’s an outward mindset. It’s manager one-on-ones, it’s being org first. It’s winning, and it’s increasing leadership visibility. These, that’s why we said these are our favorite tips, and they don’t really change,

Christian Nielson | 50:27

Right? Uh, yeah, we trust us. We feel it too. We, we like to geek out in the deep, deep waters on this stuff. We, we would like to pull up structured equation modeling and, and show what we’ve, you know, this connection leads to this connection. But the, the, the real advice for most, almost every organization is right at the surface. They’re the things that we intuitively connect with when we hear ’em said out loud. But these are things that we’ve seen time and time again, strengthen organizations. So whether or not you’ve run a survey or, or, or not, um, these are five things that we think are very tactical, very actionable, uh, areas that you can strengthen employee experience.

Matt Wride | 51:06

And to anyone who’s, who’s like executive coaches or coaches on this, these work really great for leaders individually. Yeah. You know, you’ve got a nice little list for just how to, how to improve your leadership style here as well. It’s funny how it’s really inter intermingled.

Christian Nielson | 51:22

Yeah, definitely. Definitely. Uh, and I, I can think of coaching and consulting at org level, individual level where, where all of these have come, come into play and our, our, uh, instruments bring those up. So if there’s any, we, we’ve got a, a few minutes, if there’s questions, comments, things we can explore, ha happy to address those. Uh, also happy to give you a, a few minutes back if you wanna just go reflect on all the, the things we’ve said. Uh, but, uh, you know, just a, a quick thing at the end, Matt mentioned the, um, the HRCI and SHRM credit, that, that is certainly, um, a, a part of this and information’s available there. But also, you know, we’d love to work with you if, uh, or do more work with you. We work in 360 feedback or multi-rater, uh, products as well as employee engagement lifecycle, uh, instruments. Um, we’ve got great tech and great people, and we, we, hopefully our passion for this comes across in these sessions. But as always, we wanna thank you for, uh, yeah, we’ll, we’re, we’ll happily, uh, share these slides, uh, Timothy’s asking that, uh, I, I don’t, I believe the video is posted as well on, uh, YouTube. Uh, and

Matt Wride | 52:31

I’m just gonna throw our emails in the chat as well, so people wanna reach out to us.

Christian Nielson | 52:38

Yeah. Uh, we’ve been, uh, changing this format quite a bit and, and we’re trying to include more, uh, of the collective knowledge from the group. So again, we appreciate everyone’s engagement and the comments you share. And, uh, also being part of these sessions, uh, really, really, uh, helps us enjoy it and get a lot out of it. So thank you everyone, and, uh, look for another webinar for us from us in the new year, and we look forward to, uh, connecting.

Matt Wride | 53:03

Thanks everybody.