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  • Writer's pictureAndy Goram

How To Thrive In A Post-Pandemic Workplace

The Pandemic has changed the business landscape in many ways. Whatever or however your business has been affected, how well you execute your go-forward business strategy will have a major influence over your future success. The engagement of your people in that is surely a critical factor in that. So why do some businesses continue to separate strategy from employee engagement? Engagement without strategy execution, leaves you with people happily, productively doing things that are not actually benefitting the business. But strategy execution without engagement is possible, it is not sustainable. To thrive the two have to go hand-in-hand.

In this episode of the Sticky From The Inside podcast, your host Andy Goram, from Bizjuicer, talks to Roly Walter from Appraisd, a tech company that is taking a fresh look at performance management, about how and why strategy execution and engagement should remain the best of bedfellows if you want long-term, sustainable success, and how you can take steps to ensure that happens, every day.

Below is a full transcript of the conversation, but you can also listen here.

Two men chatting about the link between employee engagement and strategy execution
Roly Walter (left) founder of Appraisd and Andy Goram (right) founder of Bizjuicer, talk about how to thrive by melding strategy execution and employee engagement

00:00:10 Andy Goram

Hello, and welcome to sticky from the inside, the Employee Engagement Podcast that looks at how to build stickier, competition-smashing, consistently successful organisations from the inside out.

I'm your host, Andy Goram and I'm on a mission to help more businesses turn the lights on behind the eyes of their employees, light the fires within them, and create tonnes more success for everyone.

This podcast is for all those who believe that's something worth going after and would like a little help and guidance in achieving that. Each episode we dive into the topics that can help create what I call stickier businesses. The sort of businesses where people thrive and love to work, and where more customers stay with you and recommend you to others, because they love what you do and why you do it.

So, if you want to take the tricky out of being sticky, listen on.

00:01:10 Andy Goram

OK. I want to start with getting something off my chest. I recently ran an engagement workshop with a bunch of young and broadly inexperienced managers. The day seemed to go really well, with the vast majority of the group involved and highly participative. You could say engaged. But as I was clearing up after they'd left, and was picking up the unused post-it notes, one made me stop in my tracks.

On it they’d drawn the outline of the Lencioni 5 dysfunctions of a team pyramid, and written across it “Happy, Clappy Bull*@%!”... you can complete the final word.

In an instant I went through the whole spectrum of emotions, disbelief, confusion, anger, concern. But at the back of it, I was deeply saddened that someone so young already had the same misguided view that all this engagement stuff is just happy, clappy, soft, unnecessary nonsense. When actually, it's the first key to unlocking sustainably great performance, flawless execution of your strategy and repeatedly brilliant results. It’s perhaps even more important today, looking at how many people are working in a more distributed working landscape as well.

Now I know, out of 30 people in the room, I'm dwelling on the thoughts of one individual, that's my own personality issue to deal with, but that's a pretty good hit rate, right? But I can't help myself and wonder why? Why, with all the evidence to the contrary, is it that some still hold this negative view of engagement? What are they scared of? What do they need to change their perspective on it? How can they use it to take advantage of the current landscape that we're in and create places where people really are able to thrive and are willingly more productive, and can repeatedly execute their strategies and plans to great effect?

Well, my guest today is Roly Walter. Roly is the founder of Appraisd, a business that is helping business leaders to create just such cultures, where people are set up to be at their best, are aligned and are growing, and where these organisations can successfully execute their strategies now and into the future.

So, we're going to pick his brains today to see exactly how you can do that in your business and with your team too.

Welcome to the show, Roly!

00:03:34 Roly Walter

Thank you very much indeed, Andy, I'm delighted to be here. And uh, yeah, thanks for a lovely introduction.

00:03:40 Andy Goram

Well, it's great to have you here, my friend. Anybody that wants to talk about melding strategy, delivery and engagement is high on my list of people to speak to, for sure. I want to try and get this message across that the two come hand in hand, right? And engagement isn't something fluffy add-on.

00:03:59 Roly Walter

A nice to have.

00:04:01 Andy Goram

Yeah, exactly. It's a major contributing factor to delivery and performance, and that's what we're all about, right? So listen, it would be great if you could just spend a couple of minutes just telling us a bit more about you and about Appraisd, and what you're currently focusing on.

00:04:15 Roly Walter

OK, yeah, well I'm the founder of Appraisd and I set Appraisd up about 10 years ago, in response to this situation I discovered, which was that a lot of people were kind of disenfranchised with the old school appraisals and employees were not getting much kind of benefit from it. Managers were finding a massive bottleneck at the end of the year, and it was something that had been set up with good intentions, but perhaps had lost its way a little bit as HR in some cases, again, well intentioned, tried to use this opportunity to gather data about people, ratings and things like that. Uh, that would then be kind of processed and used in some way. And the kind of feeling I came to was that the value had been taken away a little bit, from the employees themselves, and this was inappropriate in these new times, relatively new times, of a much more equitable balance between employer and employee. Where there's a huge war on talent, war for talent and a massively knowledge-based economy, it just doesn't make sense to not give employees the value of these discussions that they need. Anyway, so I set up Appraisd to try and address this balance and to create something that was kind of unapologetically, almost like a consumer product that employees and managers would find genuinely useful. You know, much like at the same time I think they were finding things like, I don't know, Facebook or Uber really useful. So that was the idea and we've been growing ever since, and it's been an exciting journey.

And so yeah, like you said in your introduction, at Appraisd we set out to solve the problem of annoying and poor appraisals, and we've ended up creating a complete performance management system that is resolutely focused on delivering the strategy of the business and helping people to do that and or everything that kind of feeds into that. So yeah, it's getting people to perform at their best, so managers and employees are having the right discussions to get the best for each other, being aligned to the company goals. So not only are people performing really well, but they're also doing the right things and feel like they've got a sense of purpose. And also progression, so they're not just executing well today, but also can continue to do so sustainably as people move on and up through the organisation, and new people join them and so on. That's what we're all about.

00:06:55 Andy Goram

I think that's a great context for this conversation about linking engagement and strategy delivery. One of the enabling factors behind engagement is that employee voice and having that sort of two-way conversation, meaningful conversation. So I think that's again another added value piece. And I think it's fascinating talking to people over the last year or so when you used to talk about performance management, it was that kind of I guess, more stick than carrot. It always came with a kind of sharp intake of breath and a nasty taste in your mouth about performance management. You know some sort of nine-box grid that people fell into and then exited out the business, or given some training course or something. Whereas now there's a far more kind of open, almost performance liberation kind of feel to things. Like how do we get the best out of people rather than manage. So one feels quite constricted, one feels quite liberating, right? So I think that's a really interesting backdrop for this conversation today.

So, if you come back to sort of first principles, and looking at what you're doing and what you're seeing when you're with clients, this connection between engagement and then great strategy execution, what do you see, Roly? What is it that you're trying to help businesses get to grips with?

00:08:20 Roly Walter

Well, I think it's a really interesting question and it is good to go back to first principles. I think if you try and separate them out, engagement and execution. So, if you're having, let's imagine you somehow get engagement without execution, what you're looking there at there, I think, is misalignment. So, it's people happily, productively, perhaps doing things that are not actually executing the company strategy. But then, or if you look at the other way around, if you have execution without engagement, to me that's possible, but doomed. Yeah, and you know it's not going... it's not sustainable. Or it's unethical. You know if you think about, let's take an extreme example, a sweatshop. You know that probably you could probably call that execution without engagement. That wouldn't work in our economy. And yeah, you, you might also have ethical issues with that as well.

00:09:25 Andy Goram

I think there's a couple of interesting equations there, and maybe come back to my intro and that engagement without execution. That's where this happy-clappy moniker comes from, right? Because it's somehow detached from hard business deliverables, right? And that's where the problem is. On its own it's not a happy-clappy thing, or rather, on its own, it is a happy-clappy thing. It needs to be attached to some purpose. It needs to be attached to some outcome, right? So, when you're helping businesses go forward, yes, we want engagement to deliver a strategy, but from my understanding you're keen on talking about the framework that goes around that right? To support the delivery of that strategy. And what does that look like in your mind?

00:10:14 Roly Walter

Yeah, so really good point and you know, make no mistake we are focused on business outcomes, as a supplier we are really interested in helping the organisation achieve the outcomes that it wants to. But our angle, like yours, I'm sure, is that's great, you need people need to know what they need, what's expected of them, they need to know what to work on. But you can't do that sustainably unless you give people the sort of satisfaction, the purpose, and ultimately get that engagement from the employee. So, they go together. If you want your business outcomes, you have to find a good way to motivate and engage your workforce. So, you know, going back to your example of the young person in the seminar, the training course.... I mean, I find that absolutely fascinating, and would love to talk more about that here...

00:11:10 Andy Goram

Let's do it.

00:11:12 Roly Walter

It yeah, you know, I think the answer to them is,

If you think you can get business outcomes without concerning yourself with people’s state of mind, their sense of purpose, and, you know, let's use Daniel Pink's model. You know autonomy, mastery, and..”

00:11:35 Andy Goram


00:11:36 Roly Walter

Yep, then good luck. You know it's not going to happen, for very long. It's not going to work. And I think it actually doesn't surprise me. Well, when I thought about this, you know, I thought, well, actually maybe it's that's a common situation for a young person, because actually they haven't heard maybe as much of that kind of life experience that gives you a better understanding of what makes people tick. And I don't know, I'm thinking very stereotypically now, but let's imagine a trader in foreign exchange at Goldman Sachs - my former employer.

00:12:19 Andy Goram

OK Go. OK.

00:12:23 Roly Walter

And yeah, I think I could imagine a few people there who just want results and they don't really want to kind of go into that area of thought which thinks about people’s emotions and motivations, you know beyond the money. So, I wonder if it's something that actually, may improve with age in some cases.

00:12:38 Andy Goram

It's a really interesting point, isn't it? I mean, I think from my perspective, judging by the energy that I had in the room, and their kind of their social demeanour, I was a bit surprised that someone, and maybe I'm reading too much into it, but someone seemed to be sitting there present, but not engaged and thinking,

Oh dear! Hear we go. More kind of ethereal rubbish. Let's just get on with doing stuff” right?

And I was, as a 50-year-old male sitting there going, well, I'm surprised. I thought these guys would be all about personal impact and wellbeing and camaraderie and all those kind of good things. And maybe I shouldn't be shocked that someone had kind of taken, what I would consider, a more old-school view of how to get the best out of people from a contextual perspective. And I've never been a Banker, I mean, you know, let's be honest my maths skills probably don't hold up to being on that trading floor, but, maybe their motivations at that point in their lives are extremely narrow, right? Personal success to them means money in the bank? Yeah, maybe, I don't know. It's a sweeping statement and I don't know how much teamwork is there or required, but it just doesn't feel like a sustainable approach to me. I mean, how much burnout is there in trading?

00:14:14 Roly Walter

A huge amount, yeah.

00:14:14 Andy Goram

Yeah, I mean how many people I mean, I've worked with great consultancies on the client-side before and bless them, these guys who came in to do big projects. They were on these projects for maybe 10-12 weeks and then they were sent to a dark room for four weeks to recover. You know not many of them are still doing those kind of jobs now. It's generally not a sustainable thing, right? So I don't know. I don't even know where I'm going with this. I just I, I think... I don't think you can have one without the other, I think. Come back to your equations you talked about before, engagement without strategy and strategy without... or execution without engagement. I just think they're bedfellows, right? And maybe you're right. Maybe with age you come to appreciate that, but I've worked with plenty of older people who, yeah, they don't get the engagement thing either.

00:15:04 Roly Walter

Well, that's true. I think it's a really good question and I think it deserves scrutiny because with this, with this world and where we do face criticism and skepticism, we've got to be ready to answer all of these questions, haven't we in order to convince people. And I think even if we take the trader example, or let's say a partner in a law firm. I've done a lot of work with law firms, and we have come across situations where someone will say like we want to bring in Appriasd in. We want to change the culture we want. We got churn at a certain point, and we want to.. we've got these competencies and we want everyone to think about these but these values, and so on. And it'll turn out sometimes that, actually, we'll be asking people to do performance reviews or check-ins about values, that actually, don't really matter in some cases. And people know that, actually, if you are the lawyer, who brings in £1,000,000 worth of revenue, you're fine, it doesn't matter what you do regarding the values. And, that's OK, provided that person is not also meant to be a manager, who's nurturing people, who's bringing up the next kind of strata of new associates and future partners and things like that. You know that's fine. Let them go and get on with that in the corner, for now, I say to them...

00:16:42 Andy Goram

This is pushing my buttons, Roly. This is pushing my buttons because to me, that's a fundamental flaw in their values, right? If they're not working hard for that business, if they're not applicable to everybody, then they're the wrong values.

00:16:55 Roly Walter

Yeah, and people were just going to get disengaged with the whole effort and the intervention. You know all the chat about the values that it doesn't really matter.

00:17:01 Andy Goram

Yeah, I mean. If the mighty pound is the B-all and End-all, and getting business, however you can get the business in, is what we need, then have it as a value, right. If that's what you're going to encourage, if that's what you're going to espouse, if that's what you're going to reward. Have it, right? The values don’t all have to be lovely, soft, beautiful things. They can be hard.

I mean, we've talked about this on the podcast many times, when you take a look at Netflix’s values, they're not... they're not pushover stuff. They are designed for a specific type of person who will enjoy that kind of environment and the business will get great stuff out of them. There's no point doing what you think you should do on a corporate set of values and then... but having nothing to do with what you want from an output perspective.

00:17:51 Roly Walter

Absolutely right, so I do think it's good to cast a critical eye over those values and, you know, there are great opportunities to do things, you know, to be more honest and open and original, as Netflix have been. So yeah, sometimes what we what we do with our clients is come and say, are these really important? Or perhaps they're important for these people, but not for them? And what we're starting to see a lot more of is more personalisation of the approach to performance management and engagement around the world in different business units, in different regions, all for the same organisation, but you know their approach might be slightly different. Their needs might be slightly different. And that's OK. And consistency is not always the ultimate goal. Actually, what you want is relevance.

00:18:42 Andy Goram

I think that's sensible. Yeah, yeah, I think that's really sensible. Because if it's not relevant, well if it's not grounded in what the business really wants to do and needs to do and isn't relevant to the individuals, then you will know better than most, Roly, it's never going to happen. It just isn't going to happen. So whether it's regionalisation or personalisation, or whatever, as long as it's relevant, I think that's absolutely the key. And that sounds to me like the sort of questioning, challenging framework that you're putting behind your stuff, in trying to align these things.

In your interactions with clients, right now, I'm sorry to use the sort of P-word, but what's been changing in the landscape with the Pandemic? I mean things have changed, we can't ignore it, but to your point, it's not the same everywhere, but what are you seeing in general?

00:19:34 Roly Walter

Well, obviously, we've spent the first year of the pandemic quickly learning to deal with remote working. So, from my point of view, that means how do managers get the best from their employees and vice versa whilst working remotely. Which is a fascinating challenge, and actually, technology, has been a, you know, incredible enabler for this as well. It’s not the only thing that's needed. So this has been a massive challenge, of course, and managers have had to learn new ways of trusting people and new ways of getting their kind of the signals that they need. And they've had to become more adept at picking up on other new signals from people that they can't just see, you know, in the other side of the room, every day. So that's been that's been a really interesting, and would love to talk more about that.

But now we're on a bit and hopefully coming to the close of the most kind of punitive, restrictive restrictions. Now it's becoming a differentiator for organisations and how well you can thrive in this new world. So, can you use this to your competitive advantage? How do we take this new environment that we're in and really thrive in it, not just survive? So, it's been a very interesting couple of years for management.

One of the things that we do, we're doing a lot more with our clients, is trying to integrate data into performance management process. Because what you really want is a manager who can be totally objective about your performance and if they're able to do that, then they're able to act much more like a coach, yeah, and say,

Look here it is on the table, let's take a look. Can you reflect on that? What do you think? Where would you like to be? Where do I think you could get to? By the way, these are the expectations we typically have and how would you like to take this forward.”

So, we’ve been using technology to pull data into our system, for example. So, you can do a check-in with someone in your sales team, and you can see all of their sales figures that come in from their CRM system. You could do a six-month review with your Head of Technology and see the dashboard from Power BI, of all the work items that have been completed, or the uptime or whatever it is. Whatever the KPI's are. So being able to kind of pull the data into one place into Appraisd, and do your check-ins, it's all there. It makes those conversations much more productive and much more objective, which I think is, you know it's been fantastic to be able to do that.

So, you know what's caused that has been the Pandemic. Plus a lot of new, you know, just doing data integrations much easier these days, which is great. And so yeah, that means that those managers can now take much more of a coaching approach to management, which I think has been, you know, is a positive for everyone.

00:22:49 Andy Goram

Absolutely and comes back to that personalisation, I think, that you were talking to before, just in the areas of getting the right signals or what you've just kind of outlined. There is obviously using data and technology and your platform to do more about and does that platform bring in, I guess, and I hate to use the term “softer”, let's use “human” elements? So, like behavioural stuff like alignment to the values? So, when you are coaching, you've got the, I guess, the tangible data and the behavioural data. Does that all come together? Is that assisting those managers leaders to have that sort of coaching conversation?

00:23:28 Roly Walter

Absolutely. So for me, performance management, a good performance management system, combines the kind of little and often. So this is little bits of feedback, praise, recognition, updates on your objectives, comments from colleagues, all that kind of stuff that just happens all the time. Combines that with the longer-term, more reflective stuff. And This is why I think probably the death of the annual performance review has been overstated. Because I think it.. you know just won't go away. Because, well, some people actually like to reflect over things over the last 12 months, and they like to set their New Year's resolutions in life and at work as well. So for me, a good performance management system that combines this kind of little and often, with the longer-term reflection as well. And yes, and that's obviously how we designed our system. So you get the combination of the data and the.. become more human interaction and feedback and narrative from your colleagues that you cannot gather over the year.

00:24:36 Andy Goram

I think you always want that balance, right? It's particularly on performance. You need that in the moment stuff, especially if you're coaching, it's easier, isn't it in the moment, to recognise on both sides of the coin, the thing that's just happened, right? Yeah, picking it up in the moment. If you pick it up...

You know that thing you did seven weeks ago?”
No, I don't remember that thing I did, seven weeks ago.”
Oh. Yeah, well, the thing you don't remember, don't do it again, or perhaps try something different.”

That's not a good coaching conversation. So, I'm all in favour of this combination. And I think you're right about overstating things like the death of the annual review. I mean not just least because actually some people look forward to that. They like to have an “end of accounts” effectively of their own performance, right?

00:25:15 Roly Walter

Yes, absolutely.

00:25:20 Andy Goram

Yeah, OK, so let's have a look at it. Let's take a look back, but also, it's akin to the annual engagement survey. I mean those both those things used poorly, are pointless, right? If both are just a box-ticking exercise and nothing happens, don't bother doing it because it's not helping anybody. But if it's used properly and it helps inform other stuff, it can act as a really good benchmark for future performance and what's needed and where the gaps to be closed are, and where the great things to be heralded come from, you know, so I'm 100% with that.

But we're sitting here kind of agreeing on stuff, and we've still got a problem. We've still got a problem with trying to get a universal link between engagement and strategy execution through people. So why? What do you think it is, that I don't know, whether it's CEO's, or leaders, or whoever, what are they scared of when it comes to this? I mean, maybe it's not a link linking the two, but maybe there's an engagement, I don't know, maybe there's something that's worrying them? What do you think it is? Because you must have conversations with guys who are ready for this stuff, but guys who need some convincing.

00:26:36 Roly Walter

Yes, I think that that's absolutely right. I suspect that there's a feeling in some leaders that they don't really want to go there. They’d just rather think,

Look I need X things produced. I need to make X sales. That is equivalent to 3 1/2 salespeople. Why can't I just pay them, and they'll get on with it?”

You know they look at the spreadsheet, and then OK, what does the quantity needed out of output. Each person makes roughly X, you know whatever is...

00:27:14 Andy Goram

Go get them!

00:27:16 Roly Walter

Yeah. And I think they think, “Oh maybe, we just don't worry about this and I'll accept a certain amount of lack of productivity or wastage, or whatever, you know. And it's just a numbers thing.” And because the engagement side is... they are afraid of it being, you know, it's harder to grasp. It's harder to make it as tangible, and requires quite a lot of empathy and human brain thought, you know.

00:27:46 Andy Goram

I think you've hit the nail on the head. I think it's a combination of all of those things. There's, I think, well, I get the impression there’s a sort of sense of overwhelm with it. Because you talk about the tangible stuff before, well, that's rational, right? I can see that. I can count those on my plan, on my spreadsheet, on my sales numbers. The minute you start... I mean you mentioned Dan Pink. The minute you mention, things like autonomy...

Oh, hang on! If I give everybody autonomy to do what they want to do, well, that's just going to bring chaos! How do I control that?

And we come back to that thing right back at the beginning about the definition. Perhaps one being controlling and one being liberating, right? And maybe there's something in there. The minute you start talking about personal approach to stuff, like you're trying to espouse with the way that Appraisd is working,

Well, that means if I've got 100 employees, I've got 100 different personalities to manage. Oh my God, that's yeah, that's impossible. I'm never going to do that”, right, “One will fit all? I can manage that.

I mean, maybe there's something in that, I don't know. That's what it feels like to me.

00:28:53 Roly Walter

I wonder if some people feel like it could be a one-way costly street? And perhaps they've also heard wrongly that engagement is all about perks. And yeah, time off and stuff like that. You know, that it's a new expense that they have to cover.

00:29:14 Andy Goram

I can't afford the bean bags and the free beer on Fridays, right?”

But that's just the crappy end of engagement, right? That's nothing to do with it, frankly.

00:29:24 Roly Walter

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there's, uh, another kind of very cynical thought. Perhaps you might be able to put my mind to rest? Is that maybe they're worried that as an employer, they're going to lose their sort of grip you have on the people who work for you. You know, there's an expectation they're gonna come come in and do their job, obviously that you've asked them to do. They enjoy doing that, and and so on and you might end up, they might be worried that they might end up in a situation where people say,

Well, if I underperform, it's your fault because I’m not engaged. And engagement is a thing that the company has to fix. And so I'm just going to wait until you give me sufficient engagement.”

00:30:26 Andy Goram

I think this is really interesting, right? And I think this is probably where your perspective and the tool/platform, forgive me for using the incorrect phrase on all that sort of stuff, that you're trying to help businesses get to grips with, right, it's all about outcome focus, right? Engagement is an outcome. And I think too many people think of it as a thing, as opposed to an outcome, right? I don't think you manage engagement. You get engagement from the activities/strategies that you put in place. It's things that you do, it's the way you make people feel. It's the support that you give people, you know, what do they need to understand their place in it, and the contribution that they make? How do you make them feel like they matter? Right, even when you come back to the trading floor that we talked about earlier, how do you make that Trader, feel like they matter? And actually, money might well be the motivator. May well be the thing to use that then, if that is the thing to get engagement. For others, it might be more involvement. It might be being listened to. It might be the people that they're working with or the projects that they're working on, or the way that they're allowed to do their job. You know, it could be a whole host of matters. You're not measuring those things. You're measuring the output that you get as a result of those things. And is that the kind of link you're trying to get to within your platform? But the hard data, the human stuff, therefore you do have an outcome focus and actually engagement becomes part of that outcome focus, right?

00:32:09 Roly Walter

Absolutely yeah. So that the system, the platform it's all about trying to make that link clearer and a practical, tangible thing that you should work on and will get you the results that you want. So we're trying to make it less of a, to use the phrase of your participant “happy-clappy” thing, and you know, try and show through the system every day the value of concerning yourself with employee engagement.

00:32:46 Andy Goram

And I don't want to put words in your mouth, but do you think that for those guys who want to do this, but struggle with the concept, to join the two, you're providing some form of a comfort blanket, in the form of a structure; in the form of some sort of handrails, guide rails, tramlines, whatever you want to call them, that gives them that almost a certainty of a process, but comfort that there's some tangibility to this, and on measuring outcomes?

00:33:17 Roly Walter

Absolutely, that's exactly it. It is a set of guide rails that you can roll out to all of your managers and employees and you then have confidence. So, well, the picture I always like to think of is, you're the CEO. You're in the company canteen, you got 1000 people all around you, or the summer party, or whatever let's say. If you're the CEO and you talk constantly about the company strategy. In fact, you've just spent three months signing it off with the board and the shareholders. You want to know that every single person in that room is helping to execute it. They're not going off and doing other things in the wrong direction. Yeah, they enjoying their work there, they’re engaged. That they are getting the most from their manager as well. And so, to that CEO, it gives them, having system like Appraisd or these guardrails... gives some kind of huge confidence that those managers who have maybe just sort of managed by the seat of their pants before, are actually kind of considering, or might be shifting their management style towards something that you think is right for your business and for your talent pool. It gives you confidence that those managers who maybe, maybe they’re new managers, they have impostor syndrome, perhaps, but they've got something to hold onto, and that the people they manage are not going to leave or be disgruntled because they have a manager that doesn't know what they're doing. So a framework like this gives you enormous confidence that the stuff that you talk about, that you hope for, is actually happening, and is available to all of your employees, and all of your managers, all the time. And you know being online of course, and a system, you can prove it. You can check, you can have a look at the data as well.

00:35:30 Andy Goram

Brilliant, I've written 4 words down as you were sort of saying that sort of stuff. I've got communication, involvement, consistency and personalisation as almost like the four keys to the to the Kingdom there, of aligning your strategy execution with the engagement of people, right?

00:35:48 Roly Walter


00:35:51 Andy Goram

Perfect. We have scratched the surface of talking about engagement and strategy execution. Although I think we have a common understanding about where the link is and the purpose behind that link. If it's not coming from the right place and people at the top haven't got the belief that actually what we're doing is correct, and let's make sure everybody understands their place in it, that you need both things.

But if you were to help my audience at the point in the show we call Sticky Notes Roly, right? So this is where we try and summarise all of your great wisdom and insight onto 3 post-it notes. Not that I've got a fixation with post-it notes, based on the intro, but let’s do that, that you can fit on a post-it note and would mean that people will have a chance to take it back home and go, “You know what? That's how I'm going to get closer to melding engagement and strategy execution.” What three pieces of advice would you give the listeners, my friend?

00:36:47 Roly Walter

OK, well I'm going to target these at the typical talent or HR practitioner. Somebody who's concerned with these things, perhaps, whose job it is, or who's been inspired to lead an initiative within their organisation. Perhaps seen an issue, and they know, that this is the key to unlocking a fresher, more engaged culture. So, I'm going to target at them.

So first of all, and also I've been inspired by a book called “Inspired” which is about product management.

00:37:20 Andy Goram

OK, great.

00:37:23 Roly Walter

Which I’d highly recommend, actually. So, my first one is, you’ve got to think of this as an ongoing project that you need to be prepared to put a lot of energy over a long period. And there's no substitute for the sheer volume of energy, in my view, on anything like this.

The second one, and this has come straight from the product management textbook, which is to fall in love with the problem, not the solution. OK, so really be clear on what the problem is. The problem is business outcomes delivery on strategy and increasing engagement. It's not necessarily the initiative you heard about recently, or something that you've really got your heart set on. If you put yourself into a kind of product manager mindset, even if you're in HR, let's say? You would think constantly about this problem and the measuring the effects of your initiatives and being prepared to kind of throw away something that's not working and start again. You may have to do that, and again, this is where kind of having lots of energy helps enormously.

And then my third sticky note is, keep it agile. So that means get feedback, iterate, be prepared to change tack. You might have to change quite a few things. You might have to hear some unpleasant feedback. You might have to iterate quite a lot, but that is all part of the method in getting to a really kind of fantastic and sustainable solution.

00:38:54 Andy Goram

Brilliant, I love those. All three of those have got energy running through them, so they're fantastic. We will set those on the Instagram feed on the little post-it notes there and share them with the world. So, thank you for those.

Roly, before I let you go, what's next for Appraisd? What's the thing that's keeping you awake at night right now?

00:39:14 Roly Walter

I think the two things that I'm thinking about the moment are, I mentioned them earlier, but bringing more and more data into performance management so helping managers be more objective. The other thing is helping organisations move their attitude to performance management to this more kind of grow-based coaching model, as opposed to just the kind of the old school, top-down, here's an assessment of how you're doing. So those are the two things on my list, I guess.

00:39:48 Andy Goram

Amen to both of those and good luck with them. I hope you get to take this kind of message and the tool to as many people as possible and that it really, really helps meld these two things, which are definitely bedfellows, right? Engagement of your employees and flawless execution of a good strategy. Great stuff.

Thank you so much for your time today, I know you're incredibly busy, so I really appreciate you taking some time out to have a chat, and I wish you the very best for the future, my friend.

00:40:10 Roly Walter

Thank you very much, indeed. It’s great to be on your wonderful show.

00:40:19 Andy Goram

Well, thank you very much my friend. Thank you.

OK guys that was Roly Walter, and if you'd like to find out a bit more about him, Appraisd and any of the topics that we've talked about today, please check out the show notes.

00:40:35 Andy Goram

So, that concludes today's episode.

I hope you've enjoyed it, found it interesting and heard something maybe that will help you become a stickier, more successful business from the inside going forward.

If you have, please like comment and subscribe, it really helps.

I'm Andy Goram and you've been listening to the Sticky From The Inside Podcast. Until next time, thanks for listening.

Andy Goram is the owner of Bizjuicer, an employee engagement and workplace culture consultancy that's on a mission to help people have more fulfilling work lives. He's also the host of the Sticky From The Inside Podcast, which talks to experts on these topics from around the world.

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