The Future of Employee Engagement - Actionable People Analytics
The world of the employee engagement survey has changed massively over the last 10 years, as we seek more clarity on what is happening inside our organisations. But even with all the changes and innovations in tracking the valuable commodity that is employee engagement, are we any closer to really understanding what's happening? I'm not so sure. And more importantly what can do about what we find, and really release the full potential of our people?
I spoke to Jaakko Kaikuluoma, co-founder of Teamspective. This software company is really trying to help its clients get to the heart of how their organisation and the people within it tick. I talked to him about his work with some of the new techniques, such ONA (organisational network analysis) which can bring a whole new dimension to understanding what's really happening with communication and the internal social networks within a business.
In our discussion, we talked about how some traditional survey practices can fall short of providing accurate, and actionable insights, and how things are moving with the help of technology. Below is a full transcript of that conversation, or you can listen here.
Andy Goram (00:10):
Hello, and welcome to Sticky From The Inside, the employee engagement podcast that looks at how to build stickier, competition-smashing, consistently successful organizations 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 tons 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.
The Future of Employee Engagement Analysis
Okay then, on today's show, we will explore the future of employee engagement analysis and discover innovative ways to create a more empowered and productive workforce As we move forward, I think the topics we'll discuss today will be crucial for every leader and manager out there looking to improve their workplace environment, and unlock their people's full potential. Now, many of us are familiar with engagement surveys, we've probably all had good and bad experience with them. But I'd like to look into this in a little bit more detail today and shed some light on how they can fail to capture the full picture of employee engagement, and why simply asking a few questions once a year falls way short in understanding the true pulse of your organization, what's going on inside it, and most importantly, what you could do with that information once you have it.
Now, the significance of listening and acting on feedback is, for me, one of the fundamentals of employee engagement and retention. It can strengthen teams, boost morale, and drive growth. We all know that, surely. But today, you need to create a culture where feedback is not only encouraged, but it's also acted upon if fostering a culture of trust and openness is really what you want. Now, to achieve that, you have to go beyond the traditional annual survey. There are some really cool developments in the world of employee engagement tracking, and we'll delve into that exciting realm with the help of my guest today, Jaakko Kaikuluoma, from Teamspective.
Now, Jaakko will show us just where these innovative new developments are, bringing us new things to look at and different ways to really see what's going on within our organizations, so you can take positive, relevant, and personalized action to improve this. He helps run a cutting-edge platform that helps organizations really see this stuff and unlock the full potential of their teams. He's also going to introduce us to the concept of organizational and personal network analysis, and how it holds tremendous potential for transforming how we understand employee engagement, and I hope we'll explore how this innovative approach can provide a much more accurate and nuanced understanding of the dynamics within your organization. So whether you are a seasoned manager or a curious leader, I think this episode has the potential to equip you with valuable insights and some really practical tips on how to improve employee engagement and enhance your workplace culture.
Welcome to the show, Jaakko.
Introduction to Jaakko Kaikuluoma
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (04:04):
Thank you, Andy. It's a great pleasure to be here.
Andy Goram (04:08):
It's fantastic to have you here. Jaakko, I'm really looking forward to this chat today because, to be fair, I've had a few chats about employee engagement and people analytics, and someone from the outside could see this is quite a dry topic, far from it for me, because I think when you get this stuff right, the insights that you can generate about what's really going on in your organization can propel performance, and engagement, and retention, beyond your wildest dreams, I think, if you really get it right. So I'm really looking forward to getting to that. But before we do, Jaakko, just do me a favour, give us a little bit of background to you, to Teamspective, and what you are currently focused on.
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (04:50):
Absolutely. So I'm from Finland, I studied industrial engineering, that's my study background, and it's a business degree in a technical university that focuses mostly on people and organizational design. So, it's a curious background. And then when I went to work, I did about a decade in software sales and marketing, and also I developed and led some sales and marketing teams. And in every role and in every company where I worked, I saw the same problems happening, that there are some issues that are really difficult to name them and also to talk about them directly so that you could find solutions. And people are quite hesitant to bring up their ideas. They don't want to get seem rude, and you have these barriers to discussion in psychological safety.
So, that was the problem that I witnessed everywhere I went. I talked about it with basically everyone, and then I just fell in love with the problem because there are quite good solutions that companies and people can implement in order to have better, more meaningful discussions in their workplaces, but also at home, and also develop those relationships, get them to work right. That's going to be hugely beneficial for companies and people in them.
Andy Goram (06:30):
It's incredible, isn't it, the knock-ons? We talk about this stuff in a work context, but the parallels on how this stuff can help at home, it never failed to amaze me. You do behavioral insights with people at work, and they take it home to the wife and kids, and all of a sudden everybody understands why they don't communicate properly. There's so many knock-ons today, so I'm fascinated to hear your view on that when we dig into that, for sure.
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (06:54):
Yeah, that's absolutely right. And well, the first thing that I laser-focused on was feedback, and that was my entry point to people analytics and also engagement market as a whole because I didn't have much exposure to that earlier on. So feedback was something that I really wanted to solve. And the trick there is, if you ask people directly, they will respond, and they will share their ideas, but if you try to force some discussion, and get your point across, it's not going to work as well. So you need that from both sides of the conversation. Be open to hearing each other out. That's the key. So, asking for feedback was actually the first app that we created that led to the development of Teamspective. And nowadays, we help companies use actionable people analytics so that their people can discuss and tackle exactly the right issues in their work, and in their teams, and in their relationships.
Seven Ways Traditional Surveys Fall Short
Andy Goram (08:04):
I think this is where we are seeing a lot of development. I mean, tech has obviously enabled many, many things, in many, many different genres, but particularly in this space, engagement surveys, pulse surveys, feedback, has come quite a long way in the last five, 10 years. But I think some of the things that I hope you are going to share with us today move it on again. I hope you don't mind, Jaakko, I did a bit of, I guess soul-searching, I had a think about engagement surveys, my own experiences with them, both as a client and as a practitioner. And I tried to summarize what I think the shortfalls are of the more traditional kind of engagement surveys that I mentioned in the intro. I want to share them with you for two reasons. One, get your thoughts, am I completely off whack here? Have I got it completely wrong, and that's not the way of the world? But also, how do they match up to the solutions you are trying to find to move things on?
So let me just run through this list. I think the gap starts with, sometimes, a lack of context in traditional surveys. So, because the questions are normally quite closed, I think it's very hard to add context and to ask, and maybe even decipher some of the more nuanced answers that could come back if you asked slightly different questions that weren't as closed or weren't based on scales. So there's a context piece, I think, that traditional surveys can struggle with. I think sometimes you get superficial responses, so if there's any sort of pressurization from the organization for someone to fill it in, God forbid there's incentivization, but all those things can influence almost a thought to, "I must give a socially desirable answer, or a politically correct response," especially if organizations don't really nail down that anonymous piece behind it, or really if they don't have the psychological safety for people stand up and say things out front.
I think timing and frequency are also an issue because I think they have traditionally had a more rigid nature. The annual or semi-annual survey can't pick up realtime evolving sentiment as to what's going on. And I know pulse surveys come in and try and rectify some of that, but it's not quite the same. I think length fatigue, that's my own phrase, I'm not sure it's a real thing, but I think at the point of a survey going out, some companies could be so desperate to find as much as they possibly can out that the length of some of these questionnaires become, well, just too much, and you get fatigue when you're filling them in, and then you skip a few questions, and you just gloss over a few bits and pieces. I know I'll put an average answer or whatever it might be. And so I think the quality of answers can be affected greatly by the length of those questionnaires.
Just a couple more or so to go. I think the biggest, saddest thing, which I know you are really hot on, the lack of action and follow-up that follows on from a survey. I think that could leave employees feeling disengaged and skeptical of the whole process. Why should I give my time and effort and thoughts if nothing's ever going to happen with it? And I think over time, that's where you start to see lower response rates and signals of reduced trust in the organization, which is exactly the opposite of what we're trying to achieve with the survey. I think also there's a limited perspective that can be given. So I think again, traditional surveys tend to look at the one-person, individual view of engagement, doesn't necessarily pick up some of the group nuances that you might see, or the broader cultural issues there. I don't know, there could be power biases or communication biases that doesn't really get picked up in a traditional survey.
And then finally, I think it's just an incomplete picture, and maybe some of that is the focus on the quantitative stuff, with the scales and what have you, but the quality of valuable insights that get missed from those sorts of things, the ability to capture people's real experiences, emotions maybe even tied to some of those things, and the more qualitative feedback based stuff really leaves a gap, I think, in the overall picture.
Those are the seven things I would say create this big gap. I don't know, what do you think to that list, Jaakko? I went on a bit, but...
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (12:33):
Yeah, I fully agree with all seven of your points, and I actually wrote them down while you we're speaking, so maybe you can write a blog about this. This is really good stuff, and I fully agree on all of those basically. And I think we're going to touch upon many of them.
Six Ways Engagement Tracking Is Changing
Andy Goram (12:54):
If we take those as a backdrop, Jaakko, let's go back to the beginning. When you think about the future of how we track engagement, what do you think we are looking at? What's important? What's the changes we're going to see? Set some context for us?
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (13:12):
Yeah, absolutely. So my list includes six items.
Andy Goram (13:21):
Okay, so we've got a match-up. Great.
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (13:22):
But I have a few different points from your list.
Andy Goram (13:23):
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (13:26):
So, like you said, the engagement measurement has developed from the early 1900s when factories started to ask, "When is it you're back on a break?" and up until the 2010s, when we started to have these engagement solutions with more dynamic information gathering. But there are still many directions in which they should develop, and I'm going to address those through these six things.
1. Static to Agile Measures
So the first one would be from static measures to agile measures. So that means that it's not once per year, it's something far more frequent that needs to happen. People experience different things, different problems in their teams or how different teams collaborate, and it's far too little information if you collect that once per year, because you really want that data to be the backbone of what you should be talking about. So you need to work on a more frequent schedule to collect that data. And that of course brings some other requirements, that it needs to be light and easy for people to give that data, or to generate that data some other way.
2. Fragmented to Integrated Data Pools
Then the second point is from fragmented to integrated data pools. So even today, most engagement solutions have very fragmented data. So they have performance insights, they have engagements and wellbeing insights from those surveys, and these don't match. But it would be hugely beneficial for companies to understand their performance cohorts, for instance, how do different performance cohorts report their levels of engagement or wellbeing? Are there some real phenomena that you can identify from there?
Andy Goram (15:40):
Looking for the link between different groups and different cohorts, right?
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (15:44):
Yeah. And one trend that could be extremely interesting is that the highest performing people want more autonomy, and that they may be the only cohort that wants more autonomy in an organization. So that should be addressed by the leadership in that organization. But you can't identify that group if you look at the whole company, or by teams, because the highest performers are always scattered in different teams. So we need integrated datasets, and that needs to be cross-analyzed, and companies need new capabilities to do that analysis on their data. So we're going to see a lot of these data integrators in the people analytics space, the Teamspective being one of them.
3. Centralized to Distributed Actions
Then, from centralized to distributed actions. So we have seen these trends of self-direction happen a few years ago, I think it's blown past now a bit. But still the idea is there, that companies want people to take responsibility and ownership, and that includes also taking action on whatever insights are available to them. So it comes down to distributed responsibility on the small things, and of course there's going to be centralized responsibility for some bigger things also in the future in most companies, but really putting more weight into getting every person some form of access to those insights so that they can do the right thing.
Andy Goram (17:39):
This is what's really interesting, because if I listen to those first two, three points that you've made of your list of a list of six, what we're really talking about here, when I listen to you, is a couple of things. Firstly, there's a real nuanced focus on the data itself, the different perspectives, different groups, the different links. This is far more detailed. And then secondly, this is a typical thing I think I see in leadership development work that I might do, or culture work that I might do, is businesses, companies, organizations, all want ownership, accountability, commitment. But as Patrick Lencioni wrote in Five Dysfunctions of a Team, those things can come and can be sustainable once you've established a very solid level of trust underneath, and you have the mechanisms to challenge those things and to dig into some of that conflict to ask questions. We started this conversation about people analytics as a conversation, as feedback, as a two-way conversation. I just think it's fascinating how all of these things end up matching up, and the list that you're only halfway through so far still matches up to many of the tenets that we talk about that are the backbone of delivering strong, enabling, sustainable cultures.
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (19:01):
I fully agree. And I like to simplify things, so the 1.1 would be, "Know What's Up", and the second point would be, "Know what to do", or figure out what to do. So what it comes down to.
Andy Goram (19:24):
You don't get more simple than that, Jaakko, that's for sure. So sorry, look, I interrupted your list. So we were only halfway through.
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (19:29):
Andy Goram (19:29):
You carry on, my friend.
4. Browser to Communications Platforms
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (19:32):
Thank you. So the point number four is moving from browser to communication platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams. So in the last 10 years, these communication platforms have really taken over all of the internal communication and many other processes in companies. So we really think that it's going to happen that people want to use software inside those communication platforms rather than have dozens of different solutions to log into. And that also applies to the IT department who is really struggling, and also the HR, who have so many different solutions they need to use.
Andy Goram (20:19):
So are you talking about using existing communication platforms to continually generate these data points? Is that as far as the surveys go through that, or this goes way beyond surveys? What do you mean by this use of browser communication platforms and the integration of it?
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (20:40):
That's actually another point-
Andy Goram (20:42):
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (20:42):
... that I'm going to go into. But for this point, I'm mainly referring to answering surveys using the solution inside Slack inside Microsoft Teams without leaving there, without switching context.
Andy Goram (20:58):
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (21:00):
Because when you lose many users, when they switch context and loading screen takes time, or you need to log in somewhere. It's easiest and fastest to do inside these communication platforms. And I think that's pretty much their strategy as well.
5. Surveys to Passive Data
So the next point that I can skip it actually too is from surveys to passive data, and this is extremely interesting in my opinion. So, there are some communication patterns that you can identify from public Slack channels, for instance, regarding how people interact with each other, and who reacts to whose posts, stuff like that.
Andy Goram (21:46):
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (21:47):
And we can use that data to do an analysis, basically network analysis, from that organization, and we can see how different people interact, who have influence to whom in that organization, and where there are basically silos, and people don't collaborate. But you can also read some other things like about the role of someone in a team, whether they participate or not, it can be an indication of workload, or psychological safety, or some other issues in that team. And that's a whole new area that's going to develop in the coming years through the use of organizational network analysis. And that's not the only data source, of course, there are calendars, there are email solutions, and other sources as well.
Andy Goram (22:45):
Yeah. Well I don't want to mess up your list again, I know you've got one more to cover. I'm holding that thought because I really want to dig into that organizational personal network stuff, because that sounds fascinating.
6. Data Dashboards to Personalized Guidance
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (22:54):
Absolutely. So the final thing on my list is moving away from data dashboards into personalized guidance. And in just the last few months, we've seen a huge shift in how generative AI is being used in many, many industries and many solutions. And that's going to come into the engagement solution market as well. So people can act upon these bullet-pointed instructions way better than they can do from a data dashboard where they may see that, "Okay, my team's motivational scores have gone down a second time in a row. How is that actionable? What should I do?" So, that's absolutely a shift that's going to happen.
The Influence of Generative A.I.
Andy Goram (23:49):
Where is AI not getting involved in everything at the moment? I mean, it is just blowing up. I know there's a lot of scary stuff surrounding it at the moment, but there's also an awful lot of amazing things that you can do. Anybody that's already taken the pilot into their Excel or Word documents knows exactly what I'm talking about. Can I ask you just your own personal thoughts right now just based on you talking about the introduction of generative AI within this sphere, where do you see that really helping and developing Jaakko? What can you see it being there for in the future?
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (24:30):
Yeah, so the vision that we're building towards is to have this fully automated digital coach or assistant that is going to tell you, no matter if you're just an individual employee, or a manager, or the CEO, or the head of HR, they're going to tell you what's relevant in the people data, and what you should do about that. And we're quite close to this, and we have been implementing the first versions of this solution to our customers, so it's very exciting.
Andy Goram (25:09):
I mean this is ridiculously scary, in a positive sense, Jaakko. Because I have sat as a manager, leader, whatever you want to call me, in organizations, and I get my numbers, and I get my engagement results, and I go straight to the verbatim comments, and I try and pick out the pictures. And I'm guilty of also sitting there going, "I know who said that, that's blah blah, blah," all the rubbish things that you end up doing as a leader. But it is always this piece around, "Well, so what do I do?" Because often you get so much data, trying to make sense of it and prioritize where to go, and who it appeals to, and why your team is different from another team... Because I think also, with this amount of data, and maybe this comes back to some of the pitfalls from before, I do think organizations almost force themselves to simplify, and then they go with the thing that they think is going to affect most people, and that's the follow-up action that comes out the survey.
That's not necessarily the thing that's going to have the most impact across different teams and individuals, but for simplicity's sake, "Well, we can tell everybody about that." You're just saying, "As a leader or as a manager, I could get individually personalized insights about the cultural dynamics in my team and how to change it, where to go and who to give specific focus and actions to," I mean, we'll all be amazing leaders if this happens.
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (26:43):
That's the dream, right?
Andy Goram (26:44):
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (26:45):
And I really think that if you have high-quality data, and you have some good practices in place, and you have Teamspective in place, then you're going to be a good leader. We give some tips how you can address different issues in a team setting, or how you should approach organizing a workshop that addresses exactly that certain points, and we can also create these automated one-on-one discussion points and help people schedule those meetings. And those can combine information from poll surveys, from the organizational network analysis, and performance metrics or feedback. And those bullet points and discussion points just emerged into this one-to-one template.
The Power Combo: Actionable Data and Coaching Leaders
Andy Goram (27:41):
What I find fascinating about this is the ability it's going to give organizations to focus on the development of the skills to elicit the best responses from this stuff rather than trying to spend ages raking over the data. So I am joking, saying, "Oh, we'll get the data, we'll be great leaders." We've still got to deliver it, we've still got to have the emotional intelligence to have decent conversations, we've still got to have the commercial awareness to focus people in the right areas. But having this kind of backdrop of really interesting, accurate, nuanced, personalized, relevant data, there's more adjectives I'm sure I could throw at it, would be fascinating. And then if I'm supported internally through my own personal development to really be able to have useful, meaningful, difficult, tough, empowering, enabling conversations with people, that coach mentality, that's the best of both worlds there. The insight and the ability to coach someone to perform better, that's nirvana.
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (28:42):
Yeah, that's exactly what we're going after. And it's not enough to have data. It's definitely not enough. You also need to be able to prioritize what data is significant, and what's important. There's a lot of things that are okay, a lot of things that are good, and every time there is something, some problems in every team, that's never going away. The best of teams on the best of days have problems, and it's just a matter of identifying and talking about them so that they can figure out what to do about those.
Andy Goram (29:25):
And that's great, isn't it? Because that's where the focus really should be, understanding that dynamic, having some data to point you in the right direction and then using your leadership skills to elicit the best action, right?
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (29:39):
What is Organisational Network Analysis (ONA)?
Andy Goram (29:40):
Any insight that backs that up will be amazing. I've done it long enough, I've held off, I've tried not to interrupt, but come on, I need to understand more about this organizational and personal network analysis because that sounds fascinating to me. Do me a favor, Jaakko, will you just give us a deeper insight into what this actually looks like? Tell me, practically.
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (30:05):
So organizational network analysis or ONA as I'm going to call it from here on-
Andy Goram (30:11):
There we go. We love an acronym, come on.
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (30:14):
So it's its own field of research basically. So it measures how people interact, and when you had Covid, the infections or how the disease spread, it was monitored using these same methods, how people touch and move away from each other and take the Covid to the next person. So these same principles were applied there. But this ONA is mainly for analyzing how the organization actually works, how people interact with each other, what kind of groups they form, how those groups collaborate with each other, where are the gaps, who are the people who act bridge between gaps, or between groups, and who are at the center of that network? And usually you have the executive team, they're at the center, they have the most influence, so when they have an opinion, they spread it far and wide. But you also have this local, high-demand people who then can spread ideas on a grassroots level. And it's basically a CT scan of your organization that you can have.
Where Does the ONA Data Come From?
Andy Goram (31:35):
You see, this is where being the idiot in the room really trips me up at times. So I speak to clever people like you, he is like, "Yeah, it's just simply this, this and that." In my head, I'm going, "Okay, stop. How? What are you tracking to enable you to find these relationships?" I mean that sounds like, even just for me listening to that little bit you said there, so many different data points, some which I guess would be more trackable, like, I don't know, email contact perhaps, as an example, but I guess if someone does a town hall or a leader does a speech, how do we know the effect that it's had from the... Maybe I'm looking into it in too much detail, but talk to me, how's that all work?
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (32:21):
Sure. So the first thing is, where do we get that data? And there are two different ways to do ONA. The first one is through surveys. So, we ask every person, "Who do you regularly collaborate with? Who supports your learning and development in this organization? Who provides you with leadership and guidance? Who gives you positive energy?" And a few other questions. And you can ask basically any question and it's going to create a network, right?
Andy Goram (32:55):
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (32:55):
Because people name their colleagues, their managers, whoever, in those surveys. So that's one way, and it gives really nuanced information about different people's roles regarding their capability to execute and their leadership skills and potential, and their cultural expertise. So, it's really nuanced profiles, and this is where we get to all of those personal network things as well. But let me just tell you about the second way to collect that data, and it is from passive data, including Microsoft Teams messages, Slack messages, and calendar markings, and attendee lists and emails. And all of that data is just sitting there, and it can be used also to match pretty much the collaboration layer of that survey-based network. We get information about who's talking to whom, but we don't see the context, that's our approach. So we don't read any information or the context.
Andy Goram (34:18):
You're just finding the connections between them.
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (34:20):
Yes, it's only based on metadata, metadata of those messages. So who sent it, who received it? Was it two-way or one way? How's that reciprocity in those discussions usually?
Andy Goram (34:37):
So in that reciprocity, if there are people who are conversing more, or they have more messages, more contacts, does the analysis suggest there's a stronger link there?
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (34:45):
Andy Goram (34:49):
I don't know, because you're not reading the messages themselves, is it smart enough to work out whether that is a good set of connections or a challenging set of connections?
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (35:02):
Well, you would need to read the content of those messages, and that is too far off in my opinion, and many others agree. Maybe there's a company who would agree to share with us every message that their employees exchanged, but we don't want to ...
Andy Goram (35:21):
I think that will end up causing a whole bunch of Big Brother mistrust, and what have you, right?
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (35:27):
Andy Goram (35:28):
No one wants to be spied on. I think it's just, for me, understanding the level of which this will go to, or can go to, and the benefits that individuals will see as a result of it. If all of this stuff can bring real benefit to, let's be fair, the individuals as well as the organization, then these things will be, I guess, more acceptable. People will buy into this stuff more.
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (35:55):
And it's, again, helping people be more engaged also, because if you don't have any connections inside the company, it's important for you to know that by making those connections, you will be more engaged. That's the order of things. You need to build those connections first, then you can be engaged to the company, otherwise you don't have any touchpoints. And it supports people in increasing their wellbeing and engagement.
Andy Goram (36:28):
I've not heard too many other people looking at this sort of network analysis stuff. Is it that new? I don't hear Gallup talking about it, for example. So, is this just smaller guys like yours like yourself really trying to push the tech boundaries and find new solutions, or do you think it's an emerging thing that will get bigger?
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (36:52):
I think it's definitely going to get bigger. None of the big companies, Lattice or Culture Amp, or Officevibe and what have you, they're not doing it, none of them are. And I think they're really missing out on a great opportunity because they are blind to the actual organizational structure, so they only have the plan, org chart is a plan of how the organization should work, but it rarely matches the reality.
Engagement Case Study of ONA Use
Andy Goram (37:26):
Have you got clients working with you, testing this sort of stuff now?
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (37:29):
Andy Goram (37:30):
What are they seeing? What are the benefits they feel they're getting from it, Jaakko? Tell me about that.
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (37:35):
I can share one example, and this is from a case study that's on our website. So, we did, with one of our customers who had been using our engagement surveys and pulse survey solution for a while, and they had their organization divided by competence groups. It's a consulting firm. And one of these competence groups was really struggling. They were losing talent, their pulse scores were quite weak in engagement and wellbeing, and it was obvious that there are some issues, and they had no idea what's causing them. And then we ran this network analysis or ONA, which was entirely survey-based by the way, and what we found out is that they are absolutely not linked to anyone in the senior leadership.
Andy Goram (38:28):
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (38:28):
This whole competence group had almost zero links. And the reason for that was not straightforward. There was a competence group, well, coders basically, who were much bigger, there were more people, and they were surrounding the leadership team in that organization. They exhausted all of the collaboration links from leadership so that they didn't have any time or capacity to any other competence groups. And then the other competence groups, they just attached to this larger body of coders in that organization, and they had no idea that this is happening.
Andy Goram (39:14):
Wow. Because your initial thought on what you've just said is, "There's a problem with that team." Traditionally, you'd only see the problem with that competence group. You wouldn't have seen the influence that another group has had on their ability to network with other senior individuals, right?
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (39:32):
Andy Goram (39:32):
So your solution would've been way offline if you hadn't had that insight. How interesting. Wow. So what happened as a result?
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (39:42):
Well, this is a fresh study-
Andy Goram (39:44):
Oh wow, cool.
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (39:44):
... so we're looking to do the next ONA in, I think, six weeks. So, really looking forward to seeing those results. But this was jaw-dropping obviously for the executive team where we had that workshop, and I showed the results. And like you said, whatever they thought the problem was, it wasn't that.
Andy Goram (40:09):
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (40:10):
And what they need to do is to start saying no to people basically. They need to draw some boundaries, build some processes into that larger competence group so that they don't have to interact with individual people as much so that they can use that time to coordinate the other work and other competence groups.
Andy Goram (40:30):
That is fascinating. My head is racing at the moment, thinking about teams I've worked in, or clients I've worked with, and you just use the data you've got, but the focus of that stuff's always on, "Well, why is this team performing like that? Sort them out." You're not able to see clearly, necessarily, what the other effects are. Whereas, almost immediately in this piece you can see that it's issues external to that team that are causing blockages, which is... I mean, you might have got there in traditional stuff, but not as quickly. It would've taken a load more man-hours to get to that, and your solutions would've been completely different. Wow. That's fantastic.
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (41:18):
Andy Goram (41:19):
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (41:19):
You want to hear another example?
Andy Goram (41:21):
Yeah, of course I do. Come on.
Second Engagement Case Study of ONA
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (41:24):
Okay. So there's a company who has multiple different sales organizations across different time zones across the world, in different countries, and they have their headquarters in Northern Europe. So when they did an ONA, they were quite surprised to see that these country organizations, almost none of them were collaborating with the product team in that organization. Only the biggest, most senior, or oldest country units were doing that. And what that means is that those markets cannot get their feedback across to the product development, which means that they cannot serve that market. They can't implement changes in the product that would help serve that market. And they had different needs, and the frustration was of course visible in those units. And it was really hard to put a finger on the actual issue because they just thought that they're not listening to us. And partly that's true, but there was just lacking collaboration with the product management and the country units. And that's very business-critical, if a company wants to grow on multiple markets, to get that collaboration link working.
Andy Goram (42:59):
And again, something else they would not necessarily have seen immediately, right?
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (43:05):
Sticky Notes - A Summary of the Key Takeouts
Andy Goram (43:07):
But a fundamental. And again, points you in different directions. Blimey. And it's only just started. Imagine when more case studies and everything build up and more benefits are seen just by some of this, I'm going to use, incorrectly, high level analysis, but that's brilliant. That is fantastic. Let's have a little think about how to summarize where we've got to in this very short space of time. Jaakko. Because there's so much that you shared in where things are moving in really getting to some actionable people analytics, and moving away from traditional surveys. If you were to leave my listeners with three little pieces of advice they could fit on sticky notes. This is the area of the show we call Sticky Notes, what would you leave stuck around their laptop screens to help them really think about this stuff differently?
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (44:07):
In short, my three sticky notes would be to, first, be curious, second, get relevant data, and, third, use that data. But we can of course put some flesh around that ...
Andy Goram (44:25):
You like things simple, Jaakko, and that was very simple.
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (44:29):
Andy Goram (44:29):
Put some flesh on it for me then, go on.
Sticky Notes - An Expanded Explanation
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (44:31):
Yeah, absolutely. So, it's all a matter of growth mindsets, and being open to hearing people out. And that starts with you, no matter your role or job description, it starts with you. Be open to learn, and be curious to learn.
Then the second one is to get relevant data. And here, I would look beyond surveys, I would look beyond a traditional engagement solutions. I would try and do some sort of organizational network analysis just to get a full picture of what's going on, how the company works, especially when companies are implementing different changes, downsizing or restructuring, so that they can compete in tougher times. So it's really hard to change what you can't see. So, I would definitely look into ONA.
And then third one is to use that data, and also to get everyone access to whatever data is relevant for them. Because people want to do the right thing, at least I believe that, and I hope many others do as well. People want to do good work, it's the internal motivation driver to be competent. So having access to data that's relevant, that's actionable, is the third part, and to put that data into full use.
Andy Goram (46:10):
Yeah, once you've got it, you better use it. Jaakko that they are three great little sticky notes there, mate, and a fantastic effort to simplify some of the things that you've talked about with us today. If people want to dig into this more, where can they go to find out more, Jaakko?
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (46:25):
I would start with teamspective.com, and search our "Book a demo" button there, or maybe subscribe to our newsletter or other resources there. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Jaakko Kaikuluoma, I'm sure you can find my surname in the show notes.
Andy Goram (46:44):
Yes, no worries.
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (46:48):
And do connect, ask me what's up, and ask me if you have any questions regarding this. I'm really curious to talk with all of your listeners, so bring it on.
Andy Goram (46:59):
Brilliant. Jaakko, that was wonderful stuff, mate. Thank you so much for filling my head with stuff that's going to be with me for ages, I really appreciate that. And thank you so much for coming on, I know you're busy. It's been fantastic.
Jaakko Kaikuluoma (47:13):
Thank you, Andy. It's a great pleasure to do this episode with you. Thank you.
Andy Goram (47:18):
Well, thank you, my friend. You take care.
Well, everyone, that was Jaakko Kaikuluoma, and if you'd like to find out a bit more about him or any of the subjects that we've talked about today, please go ahead and check out the show notes.
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.