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  • Writer's pictureAndy Goram

Turning People Data Into Action

Data, data everywhere, but not a drop of insight in sight.

90% of companies have some form of employee listening programme, but only 7% of employees feel that their company is very good at taking action with that feedback.

When it comes to employee data, how many companies are ticking the box of collecting various bits of information, including sentiment towards the business, through surveys and other such listening mechanisms, and then do very little with it? Is it because they are overwhelmed, don't have the skills, or can't be bothered?

In episode 47 of the Sticky From The Inside Podcast, host Andy Goram, from the employee engagement and workplace culture consultancy, Bizjuicer, talks to Kevin Campbell, an employee data scientist from Qualtrics. Kevin shares his experiences of working for Qualtircs, Gallup, Deloitte, and as an independent data consultant and shines a light on how to turn all this data into real action, that moves the business, and those in it, forward. From throwing insight back to the people who've generated it to help make practical decisions, to sharing a simple ABC 123 rule of thumb for turning people data into action, the pair cover a load in a little over 40 minutes.

This is a full transcript of that conversation, but you can listen to the episode here.

two men discuss people data and employee listening
Kevin Campbell (left) and Andy Goram (right) discuss how to turn people data into action

00:00:00 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 their 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.

00:01:10 Andy Goram

OK, then one of the four enablers of employee engagement, as proven by the research paper, “Engage for Success” written by David McLeod, Nita Clark, 10, or 11 years ago in the UK is “employee voice”. It's concerned with making sure employees feel that they have a voice that's listened to and heard within their organisation.

It's a simple enough concept to get your head around. If an employee feels like they're able and encouraged to speak up, give feedback, contribute to discussion and influence what goes on in the business, they are more likely to be engaged and therefore more likely to bring their best self, effort and ideas to the party, every day.

Now the most common form of gathering this employee feedback is through some sort of engagement survey, or a series of Pulse surveys that check in with how employees are feeling. There are of course many more ways to gather data for employees, but it's not so much what you gather, but what you do with it that counts.

Now in my experience, one of the saddest things I see, is when companies have given employees the opportunity to be listened to, the employees then step forward and our brave and share their honest opinions and feelings, but then they hear nothing back from the leadership team about what was said, or what will likely happen as a result of their feedback. The knock-on effect of this is, that the next time employees are going to be far less likely to share what they're really thinking, and they'll begin to mistrust the business's intentions with all these questions.

The key is to really move from employee listening, to involving action taking. But how do you do that effectively?

Well, with me today is Kevin Campbell. Kevin is an employee data scientist for Qualtrics and is hugely passionate about doing people, analytics better and making more of and doing more with the data that can be gathered from your employees, so he's the perfect partner for today's discussion on getting better at employee analytics. Welcome to the show, Kevin.

00:03:09 Kevin Campbell

Thank you for having me, Andy.

00:03:11 Andy Goram

Great to have you here, my friend. Look, I am no data scientist, but I do love a bit of data. So I'm really looking forward to this conversation today.

Can you do us a quick favour, Kevin? Can you just give us a sort of a brief introduction to you and what you're doing, and perhaps what you're really focused on, right now?

00:03:28 Kevin Campbell

Yeah, yeah, so I'm an employee experience scientist at Qualtrics and my goal is to help Qualtrics customers identify and close gaps in the employee experience as quickly as possible, and in ways that ultimately help them improve their business goals and their business outcomes.

So yes, improving the employee experience for the sake of employees, improving the employee experience and connecting that back to business outcomes like customer metrics, operational metrics, and ultimately the profitability and success of the business overall.

So my background is as an organisational psychologist. I'm a recovering consultant... and I worked for the Gallup Organisation for a bit, with Deloitte as a human capital consultant, and I've done my own, independent thing for a while. And now I'm here at Qualtrics. So, I'm really excited about this topic, because yeah, the data is everywhere. There's no shortage of information or data that we can tap into. But you really said it best around this idea of employee voice. Because, you know, there's employee engagement in the the sense of what employee engagement has come to mean. Meaning, this idea of giving extra discretionary effort and feeling psychologically and emotionally connected to the organisation. But that word “engagement” also has another meaning - being engaged in what you're doing.

You know if you have an engaging conversation or, if you're listening to an engaging lecturer, there's usually some sort of involvement in your part. I think there's not just a common word in these two concepts of engagement, but I think there's also a relationship, both theoretically and according to the data of how we can connect both those things. I believe that when employees are engaged, meaning involved in setting the agenda for the organisation, driving improvements in the organisation, they will also become engaged in that other sense of the word as well.

And I love what you said about employee voice. And I think it is employee voice and it's that step of not just having and expressing that voice and doing something with it, being actively involved in solving problems and moving the business forward.

00:05:50 Andy Goram

I think that's really well observed. I think the word engagement can get misused, misunderstood, conflated with lots of other things. And whenever I speak to data guys about this, you know there's lots of different schools of thought around it. You know, I come from the perspective, I guess, that engagements an outcome. You know, it's a product of a number of things. But I really love the fact that you talk about involvement, participation and connection. Because, I think there's also... and maybe this is where business has driven it, and who knows whether we'll get into this or not, but maybe businesses also bring in this word alignment. So actually, to be engaged. You've got to be aligned to everything we're talking about.

And as is often challenged towards me, well engagement can be,

I don't agree with that. I have a slightly different view to that. But I’m engaged in the conversation. I care passionately about what happens,”

you know. Does that mean I'm not engaged, because I'm not aligned?

I mean now we start to sort of dig into some rabbit holes that we might want to dig into, but what's your thoughts on that whole thing?

00:06:51 Kevin Campbell

I love that. I love that because, you know, I agree that alignment is a goal. But I think there's a lot of different ways that you can get to that alignment. It can be a cascade, or it can be a top down. It could be a bottom up, or it can be both end. I think, what the the research has come to show us, and we've probably experienced this ourselves from personal experience in business and in life, that the all-around form of alignment tends to be stickier and more engaging then the top, down or even the bottom up.

And this was an interesting research thread that you know there were two camps of Org. Psych. Researchers. One that found that it didn't matter whether the employee, or the manager set the goals when it came to goal commitment and goal alignment. And another one who found consistently that... another group of researchers that found consistently that it was only when the employee had a hand in setting the goals that you had those same levels of commitment and alignment.

And they did something that is actually quite rare in academia. They did a rival collaboration, where they're like,

Hey, we trust that you're not making this up. There's something in what you're finding? Let's collaborate to find out what's the moderator or the mediator of why we're coming up with these different findings.”

And what they found was that it's not enough just to tell employees, what their goals are. You have to sell them on those goals, or you have to collaboratively create them with the employee. So, you know when it goes back to this idea of alignment. Are you trying to dictate alignment, or are you trying to create alignment? And I think a great way of creating alignment is to involve and engage people in what that is. And this has real world positive consequences for businesses.

I mean, I was working with a large tech company that has a manufacturing arm in China, as many do, and they found that there was product that was leaving the factory line, or boxes rather, that we're leaving the factory line without any product inside of them. So, imagine that this this would cost a lot of money because then things would get returned and all this stuff, right? So, they were going to hire a team of consultants, an untold amount of money to fix this problem through logistics and maybe some some robot-process automation. But somebody had a stroke of genius and said,

Well, let's take this problem back to the frontline and figure out what their solution might be.”

And their solution was a $5 fan.

Because you set-up the fan on the line, and if a box with no product goes through, the fan will knock the box off of the line.

00:09:53 Andy Goram


00:09:54 Kevin Cambell

So you know, there are real world business implications for actually going back and involving. And not only has that solved that problem and saved them probably quite a bit of money, but you know the person that had the idea, or the team that had the idea to implement that solution, they're going to stick around. They're going to feel like they're a lot more vested in the interest in the outcome of that organisation.

00:10:19 Andy Goram

I love that story. The $5 fan story will live with me forever. I think this whole thing about listening to employees is far more than “Tell us what you think about our values, or tell us what you think about the organisation goals.” Answers to problems are sitting at desks, right? Are sitting on the line. As you just said, no one ever asks.

There's some horrible stats. I'll get the numbers wrong, so I won't even bother. But the number of people who come to work with the intention of sharing their best effort and ideas, but no one ever asks them, so they never surrender them or they never offer them up. They're never given the opportunity and I just think that's a sad, sad thing.

00:10:59 Kevin Campbell

Well, stats from Qualtrics actually says that.

about 90% of organisations have some sort of employee listening programme. But only 7% of employees feel that their employer is very good at taking action on that feedback

00:11:14 Andy Goram


00:11:15 Kevin Campbell

Which is almost worse than them not asking at all in some instances, right? Of, you know, asking for feedback, but they're not doing anything with it?

00:11:23 Andy Goram

I think that's the thing, and then I've sort of mentioned it in the intro. I mean, can you think of anything worse than being asked a question, you answer and then no one responds to your answer, right? In a conversation, if it happened in a conversation, you’d think,

What?! I'm not going to speak to you again, you ignorant swine, you.”

You're not going to have that conversation. Why should any different with employees and organisations chatting? You know, if I'm good enough to give you an answer, you might not like my answer, but at least respond, right? At least tell me why we don't agree, or what you're going to do as a result, or what you're not going to do as a result. I think that's just as important.

And maybe that gives us an in, to the sort of first area that would be good to try and maybe have a look at from your perspective, Kevin, is when we think about the opportunity that talking to, talking with, listening to employees gives us, what do you see from your, let's be honest, fantastic position, working for a business like Qualrics, with the range of businesses that you end up working with, what are people missing out on and what do you see as the causal effects or causal reasons as to why they're missing out on that stuff?

00:12:28 Kevin Campbell

Yeah, I mean, I think they're missing out on closing the loop, and they're leaving money on the table, and they're leaving opportunities to engage employees on the table by not thinking about how do you begin with the end in mind around what decisions are you looking to make? What actions are you willing to take as a result of the different channels that you have for collecting people analytics and more specifically gathering employee feedback. So, beginning with the end in mind around... I'll give you an example from another company that I'm working with.

A quick service, restaurant location, they serve burritos and tacos and things like this. They have about 1000 locations and they're looking to triple to 3000 locations within 18 months.

00:13:22 Andy Goram


00:13:23 Kevin Campbell

Yeah, now there's a lot that goes into planning that kind of an expansion. One of the findings that they have is that only about a third of their managers feel like they're fully enabled to do their job.

00:13:38 Andy Goram

Oh, Wow!

00:13:39 Kevin Campbell

So, think about what the consequences of that expansion are going to be and what the demands on your talent are going to be as a result of that expansion. So, the reason I give that example is, that if you're not marrying employee feedback with the decisions that you're making as a business, and how you decide to allocate resources, or what things you decide to do, then you're really just kind of listening for the sake of listening. You're satisfying your curiosity for interesting pictures and graphs and insight into what's happening in the business. But you really want to translate that insight into something that's going to help you achieve your ultimate goal. And I think this isn't just at the organisational level. And in fact, I think it's even more important at the manager and team and perhaps even the individual level, to start to empower and enrol your managers in the idea that like,

Hey, this isn't something that leadership and HR are only responsible for.

Because those things, those organisation-wide opportunities and actions can take six months, they can take a year. They can take several years. Meanwhile, the employees whose feedback is actually being acted upon, might not see the connection between the feedback they gave and the things that are happening. Whereas on the team level, the individual level, the manager level, you can take action on that feedback within a week, or sooner. You could start adjusting your behaviour right away and have both of those closed loop cycles happening at the same time. Where you have the quick feedback loops happening at the team level, but then you also have those structural, systemic, organisational things happening.

And I think the biggest miss is when organisations focus on one aspect of that to the detriment of the other. So really building that ability to think about both of these loops in tandem, and how you can empower the people that are working with that data to be able to make those improvements.

00:15:47 Andy Goram

Have you seen or witnessed any kind of like major problems with not listening as effectively, like you're talking, and not kind of linking the feedback to actions? I guess living on assumption or misreading the data or whatever it might be. Because I think this is a really important thing.

00:16:07 Kevin Campbell

Yeah yeah, I mean OK, so one example... an example of over-emphasising on the team level and not acting on the organisational level. You know, a poor practise is having some sort of formulaic compensation system, where a specific dollar amount, especially a large dollar amount, is tied back to specific managers and the employee engagement scores of their teams.

00:16:33 Andy Goram


00:16:35 Kevin Campbell

I agree that there's a space for being able to incentivise people around these things, or looking at scores as part of a holistic scorecard, but when you start to create formulas around, “If your score is X, you get Y bonus” it tends to lead to behaviours that jeopardise the whole point of your programme. It could be as innocuous or seemingly innocuous as saying, “Hey, we're going to have an employee party the day of the survey release. And oh, by the way, while you're, you know, having a drink and enjoying your pizza, you know go ahead and fill out the survey.” Right? That's going to skew the results, obviously.

00:17:14 Andy Goram

You reckon, yeah?

00:17:16 Kevin Campbell

But not to the same degree that a manager saying,

Hey, you better give me 5 out of 5 for everything, or I'm going down and I'm taking you with me.”

00:17:25 Andy Goram

Yeah, yeah.

00:17:26 Kevin Campbell

Or, “I'll split my bonus with you, you just go ahead and give us all fives.” Right? And what that could end up doing is just jeopardising the integrity of the whole programme. So I think that's one element of over-emphasising that.

You know, I worked with a large financial institution that was in the news for some bad behaviour and they didn't pick up on that bad behaviour in their employee survey. And part of it had to do with the fact that they were over-incentivising managers to have good results.

00:18:01 Andy Goram

Oh wow!

00:18:02 Kevin Campbell

There's a lot of reasons that that all went down, but that was one avenue that they could have had for getting ahead of that programme, and an opportunity that was missed, because they treated this data like an exam, right? They treated it like a scorecard that you were keeping points, like in a game of sport, rather than thinking of it like the speedometer on your car, or the number of steps on your Fitbit, right? It's like one is thinking about this information as a way of keeping score and ultimately determining a person's worth or ability as a manager, and another one is looking at this information as data that you use to adjust your behaviour and improve. And I think that's a good lens to think about it.

Like, are you giving people enough grace to be able to help them look at that data in a way that it feels like it's not a check-up, or a carrot, or a stick, but it's a way of monitoring the health of your organisation? The health of your team and a leading indicator of how you're doing as a manager.

00:19:19 Andy Goram

No, I think it really is. I mean I think this whole emphasis that you're bringing to today's conversation is obviously about taking action, right? Taking meaningful action on the back of data. And I think the sort of things that you've highlighted there, bad things, or sort of like poor practises. Loads of people fall into that into that category, right? So, we've got the numbers, therefore, that's what we'll do, is stick to that, rather than thinking about as the progression piece. Looking through the windscreen and looking at the dashboard at the same time, rather than just honking out the the rear-view mirror of what's happened in the past. “Oh look, we’re better than last month. Brilliant, well, this month I want to be better.” Yeah look, but how, why? What's the drivers behind all of that?

But conversely, you must see, and you must have some great clients that you work with who are really making the most of listening and taking action. Have you got some examples of people that really kind of like making your heart sing as a data guy with how they're using their data?

00:20:18 Kevin Campbell

Yeah, absolutely. So both from... I think there's two parts to this, right? One is the systems and tools and analytics that you use organisationally, and the other part is enablement that you have for managers and leaders to be able to take action.

So I'll start with the first one, and going back to this idea that you had mentioned around over-emphasising the numbers, rather than thinking about what the numbers are actually measuring. Because what happens if all your scores start to come in at 90%. Does that mean you just rest on your laurels?

00:20:53 Andy Goram

Oh, we're done!

00:20:53 Kevin Campbell

We're done! Yay! Declare victory with everyone walking around in a state of perpetual bliss, right?

00:20:59 Andy Goram

We have completed business. Well done, excellent finish. What's next?

00:21:04 Kevin Campbell

Yeah, so some I.O. Psychs. on the Google Analytics team actually came up with a new analysis that I recommend everyone check out. And if I can find the link, I'll shoot it over to you so you can include it in the podcast description. This is work that was done by other really brilliant organisational psychologists working at Google that are now at different firms. But this is started to be adopted by different firms as well, called a heartbeat analysis. So I'm not going to get into the weeds of what it is, but if you look at when someone responds to a survey you're going to have sort of an average for that person, right? So, you know, you might... I might go through and on average my typical response might be a four out of five. The “agree” versus the “strongly agree”. But if I go in and I respond, “strongly disagree” to an item, that one deviation from my average, that high standard deviation should count for something.

So, what it allows you to do is to say, OK, even though you're at 90% for a particular item, where are those places? Where are those real outliers where people feel extremely satisfied with a particular thing or extremely dissatisfied with a particular thing? Because you might have 80%, but there might be pockets within your organisation.

00:22:31 Andy Goram


00:22:33 Kevin Campbell

And the reason this is important is because, you know, you really want to dig into those pockets of where there's those outliers. Because sometimes the average is almost meaningless, right? But once you get to a few thousand employees especially, there's really not an organisational culture at that point. There's pockets of culture with your organisation.

00:22:52 Andy Goram

That’s so true.

00:22:54 Kevin Campbell

Another great example is, you know, this emphasis on thinking of any kind of employee feedback as a tool and an input for manager development. Right, so how are you not thinking of this just as a way of making decisions organisationally, or getting kind of a read of the temperature of the organisation. But how do you create relevant and tailored leadership development and manager development interventions based upon the feedback that that individual leader or manager has. Both from employees and maybe from external customers or internal customers.

You know, I worked with one organisation, it was a financial services organisation that had a bunch of bank branches. And as part of their way of taking action, every single one of those bank branch managers had an hour-long coaching conversation with a people scientist, who also is skilled in coaching, to look at their data. Look at their employee data. Look at their customer data. Look at their own psychographic information from talent assessments and put all those things together in a tailored plan that those branch managers can use to move their business forward.

And it was done as part of the action planning process that was done with the annual survey. But this was not just, you know, a check-the-box action planning thing. This was like,

Hey! Where do you want to go with your branch? Where do you want to go with the business that you manage within this larger organisation? And how can you use this information to help you get where you want to go as a leader?

So, let's not even... let's not start with looking at all the data from these different sources. Let's start with what are your business goals? What are your personal professional development goals? And how can we use these data sources as an input to help you get where you want to go?

So, there's another great practise.

00:25:01 Andy Goram

That's great, I mean... I'm sitting here 'cause listen, I like data. I enjoyed doing it. For a brief period of time, I ran a data department. Which is just... they must have just run out of people to kind of do that. But I'm listening to what you're saying about this last bank example and like, how do you present that data in a way that is really conducive to a Wally like me, kind of understanding it, and really being able to take it forward? Because it sounds like there could be just so much in there. I guess presenting that in a kind of easily consumable and meaningful way is where you guys really earn your corn, right? Well, how do you go about doing that?

00:25:42 Kevin Campbell

I love that question and it could be just a small tweak in the way that we use language to talk about this. Whether it's with customer data or employee data, you know, rather than saying your Net Promoter score, you know which is like that's used in the customer world. Your Net Promoter score is 50. It's more powerful to say, “You have twice as many customers that are willing to recommend your business, as customers that aren't willing to recommend your business.” It's information. You're just phrasing it a different way.

00:26:17 Andy Goram

Yeah, yeah.

00:26:18 Kevin Campbell

I don't know the math checks out on that on NPS scores, so it's a bit...

00:26:20 Andy Goram

We'll, we'll take it. There's no passives. There's no passives, it’s fine. We’re not talking about passives.

00:26:24 Kevin Campbell

Or rather than thinking that the engagement score is 80%, yeah? Why not say, 80% of our employees are showing up every day, willing to give extra discretionary effort, and go above and beyond in their job, and are emotionally and psychologically committed to this organisation, right?

Or your retention scores are 20%. Well only 20% of your highest performing salespeople, intend to stay here more than two years. Like it's the same information, but instead of putting the number, putting the person, the human at the centre, allows us to put it in context and it gives that emotional resonance.

00:27:06 Andy Goram

100%! That contextual language just is all the stuff people are trying to work through in their head when they look at a number. And a lot of people look at the number and go, “OK. I'm at 80%.” And that comes back to your transactional approach to numbers before, “I'm at 80 this month. I was at 78 last month. Yeah, that's the same. OK, fine move on” right? Where you're kind of using this contextual language, I really like that because that helps people, kind of really understand on a real base level about what it's doing.

But the impact that it's having, and we're all about thinking about the impact on this stuff, right?

I can't help myself thinking about what we started to talk about at the beginning of this programme. But employee engagement and listening. I mentioned in the intro, the annual survey or even a pulse survey, and that's often the kind of the raison d'etre of doing employee listening. But what's your view? Are we just sleepwalking through it or are we really kind of like starting to make some headway with it?

00:28:06 Kevin Campbell

I think there's a continuum of folks that are sleepwalking through it and people that are making headway with it. And there's a couple of guidelines that we can think about, for being able to improve that within your organisation, and especially for your leaders and managers.

One thing I will say is that, you know, go back to this idea of listening being a conversation. And you know, it would be odd, as you mentioned, it would be odd to ask somebody for their feedback, ask them a question and do nothing with that information. It would also be odd, if you were to have a relationship with someone, where they're the only ones that initiate the conversation. So, is there employee-initiated opportunities for being able to provide feedback and provide information?

So it could be as simple as having a QR Code in the kitchen or in the bathroom, where if there's a problem, you can go ahead and initiate a conversation with someone that can take action on that. Or if you're interacting with an IT system, or a piece of software that is important for you as an employee to do your job, is there an intercept where you can channel that information back to the right person. So those are important things to keep in mind. Like you want it to be a two-way conversation and you don't want that conversation to be dictated by the calendar. Sometimes you need it to be dictated by the event or the interaction that person is having.

And that's why all the other points in the employee lifecycle are important too, right? That onboarding experience is incredibly important. When you go out on leave and you return from leave that experience can make or break your career and your experience with an organisation. When you move into a management position from being an individual contributor, or you move into a leadership position from being a manager. All of these different transition points or important moments that matter in the employee lifecycle happen. Sometimes they coincide with your pulse survey or your engagement survey. And sometimes they don't. And one way to really break out of the sleepwalking is to connect these touchpoints using what we call employee journey analytics. And you don't have to be a data scientist to do this with the right tools. You can do it on a platform and it'll run all the stats for you. But to say what specific experiences, as part of that onboarding process, predict whether that person is going to be engaged six months to a year later? What pieces of that engagement survey connect back to how well they're going to transition out and back from leave. And when they transition out and back from leave, what is the impact that that has for a manager on the engagement of their team, or their internal or external customers? So the real power, and a lot of this to move out of that sleepwalking, happens when you're able to connect different data sources together, so that you're able to get more actionable information from fewer surveys. Because rather than having one long survey where you're trying to boil the ocean, you can have lots of little miniature touch points that you can stitch together to create a more accurate picture of what's happening and what needs to be done.

00:31:32 Andy Goram

I think that's great. And I think that those little, frequent touchpoints build this ongoing narrative between the organisation and employees, rather than this kind of one stop, census of opinion. Which, you know,

Oh! Like there's only 90 questions to go. You're nearly there!”

00:31:53 Kevin Campbell

Well, see I'm still a big fan of the Census survey, right? I think there's a place for it. But it's about making that census survey quite a bit shorter, more frequent, but not relying just on that.

00:32:05 Andy Goram

Yeah, I would agree.

00:32:05 Kevin Campbell

Having other pieces as well.

00:32:07 Andy Goram

I would absolutely agree with that, and my head's buzzing. I love that whole thing. And it's a simple thing for you data guys to have thought through, but just thinking about where you go as an employee on your journey. Through different job roles, different responsibilities... 'cause you could go from being all over and master of your craft in one position, and suddenly you'll kind of elevated to a new position and you're in a state of flux. Maybe a bit of turmoil, or trying to get to grips stuff. You don't feel as in control. Don't feel on top of your game. Maybe it's a bit harder at work than it was before? All of a sudden, you could have been in the top percentile of engagement before, and in the next survey you drop down because you know of all these other things that are going on. If that's not recognised, within the nuances of the measurement, there's just a big change in engagement, right, overall, if there's plenty of people going through that stuff. That's really interesting to think about. Because organisations just lurch from “Oh we're good at this and we're bad at this” when really, the context of what's actually going on with the individuals in their own employee journey is fascinating. I mean that's another podcast on its own.

00:33:15 Kevin Campbell

Yeah, I mean that's why employee personas are so helpful, right? So, you know, and they're much better at this in the customer world and the product development world. But I think we, as professionals in people in culture, can adopt some of those, right. So, a great example is an organisation, that's a cruise ship line, that I work with right. So, they have ship-side employees. The folks that are actually working on the ships, and then they have shore-side employees. The folks that are working in the corporate offices, in marketing and HR and legal and IT, and planning and strategising roles. And the persona of the folks that want to join the organisation to work on the ship and be part of the cast and crew and live that life, versus the folks that are working in shore-side is a very different persona. And the employee journey is going to be different and the things that motivate, or going to be important for each of those personas is going to be different. So the way that you might think about your customer segments or your marketing segments, you're also going to want to think about your employee segments.

To your point, right? A perfect score in one segment might be very different from another. And the things that are driving employee motivation and engagement and belonging and intent to say are going to be very different for those groups. So, breaking out of that monolithic approach is very, very valuable.

00:34:40 Andy Goram

Let's talk about breakout, then. Let's talk about, if we're thinking about the concept of this today, of doing people analytics better. What's your rule of thumb for achieving that, then, Kevin?

00:34:51 Kevin Campbell

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, I really like to simplify it. Radically simplify it. So that any organisation, regardless of your level of maturity, you can start to take action on feedback in a meaningful way. Right, and it's as easy as ABC 123.

00:35:08 Andy Goram


00:35:09 Kevin Campbell

So, if you're hearing the Jackson 5 playing your mind’s ear, I apologise. But maybe it'll help you remember it, right? So, ABC stands for action-orientated, business relevant and conversation based.

So, for action orientated it really goes back to this idea of beginning with the end in mind. Putting as much emphasis on the action taking as you do on the data collection. So, from the questions that you ask in your survey, right? So as an example, beautiful engagement questions like, “I am energised at work” or, “I'm willing to go above and beyond in my role”. Great questions, but they're all outcome orientated. You only want at Max 10 to 15% of your questions to be outcome-oriented. You want the vast majority, 50 to 70% of the questions you collect from all your listening, to be action orientated. What are the drivers? What are the things you can actually do?

And then also make sure that the expectation from everybody at all levels of the organisation, is that this is for taking action. This is for making decisions. This is for moving things forward. And also, that shift in mindset away from score chasing, around, you know, this is a this is an ultimate determination of how good I'm doing, and moving it into,

This is information that I'm going to use for the purpose of taking action.”

So that's the first piece. It’s just starting with action orientation.

And then B is business relevant. So, what are the ways that we cannot think about this as just an HR thing, or just a people analytics thing, but how can we think about this as an overall organisational and business thing? Not to say that employee experience and employee engagement aren't good goals to have in their own right, but also to say that hey, you know,.for a frontline manager, they're not thinking about employee engagement. They're not thinking about employee experience. They're thinking about,

How am I going to do more with less? Because I just lost half my staff and I'm onboarding 10 new people today.” “How do I deal with this customer that's arguing with this new employee because they won't accept their coupon?”

So, the more that we can make the conversation about those things, how do you retain your staff? How do you engage your customers? What are your actual business goals? Beginning a conversation with that and then say “OK, how can this employee experience data be used to help me move those goals forward?”

You know, another great example is, let's say you're a salesperson, sales manager, and you want to increase your sales for your team. You know, I think for a lot of the sales managers the go to action to take in that instance, is to, you know, buy some sales training. But if you look at your employee engagement data and you see that the area of opportunity is actually related to tools and equipment, then maybe the answer isn't to provide more sales training. Maybe it's to update your CRM.

00:38:18 Andy Goram


00:38:19 Kevin Campbell

But if it comes back and learning development is an area of concern, then maybe the way to improve sales is actually to do some sales training. So, you know, be able to think with that data through the lens of how can I act on that?

And in the last for the ABC component is C. Which is conversation-driven or conversation-based. Rather than thinking of this as information that you as a manager, or you as a leadership or HR team are going to take into the corner and run your own analysis behind the scenes, and then come back and present like you're, you know, walking down from Mount Sinai... “This is the way. This is what we’re going to do.” Is actually having a conversation with your team around, “These are our scores. What might I do? What might we do collectively? What might you do in order to move the needle on these things? How can we have a conversation around it?” And I'm not saying have focus groups. I'm saying, have a conversation with your team around the scores, in a non-confrontational way, that allows you to really unpack this and say, “What does this mean for us? What might it look like if we were to really improve in this particular area? What are the ways that we can share this responsibility, to be able to move forward?

So, that's the ABC component. And then 123 is about communication and narrowing your focus. So, 1 means picking one area. One thing to work on. Don't try and boil the ocean. You know we have this tendency to want to do all the things. But sometimes doing just one thing with a lot of enthusiasm and energy, can take you a lot farther, and it feels more manageable. And that's where the analytics can come in. Because the analytics will give you the gift of focus to say “Hey, here's a couple of things that you might want to focus on. Choose one.”

And then 2. Do two things about it. You know, maybe you do one thing as a leader, maybe you enrol your team in doing another thing.

And then 3. Communicate it three times, through three different channels. Because not everybody checks their e-mail. Not everybody is fully present on team meetings. So, think about the different channels of communication that you might be able to communicate with people around what you're doing, and do it at least three times. And in this very simple format of “We heard X, therefore we did Y.” And that will go really, really far, because oftentimes people are making a lot of changes as a result of this feedback, but the loop doesn't feel closed, because employees can't always connect what's being done, to why it was being done, in a very simple way.

00:40:56 Andy Goram

I love that I. Love the ABC 123 and it links very nicely, almost completely to the final bit of this episode because we're running out of time already, which is ridiculous.

And so, I have this part in the show, Kevin, called Sticky Notes, right? It's where I ask you to try and summarise or give your pearls of wisdom on 3 little post-it notes that people could take away, that we stick on the Instagram channel and people can kind of see.

It may well be that ABC forms one sticky note. The 123 forms another sticky note, but if you were to leave behind three sticky notes, what would they be, Kevin?

00:41:33 Kevin Campbell

Yeah, so Sticky Note 1. I'll connect it back to the A. Focus on the drivers and action-orientated questions.

Sticky Note 2. We'll connect this back to the B. Start with the business goals before looking at the People analytics.

And 3 stands for C - conversation. Go have a conversation with your team.

00:42:04 Andy Goram

Beautifully simple and what a world we would live in, if everybody did that. It would be marvellous place wouldn't it, I think?

00:42:13 Kevin Campbell

I think so.

00:42:14 Andy Goram

Kevin, I've loved talking to you today. I mean, I could talk to data guys for hours and hours on this stuff because the minute you say one thing, which is a bit like data, something else comes up and springs in your mind and links to something else. And I think that is the whole joy of data. But I'm so grateful for you coming on today. I've really enjoyed talking to you. I'm sure my listeners will be as head buzzy as I am as a result of this. And yeah, I just want to say thanks so much for coming on. Really appreciate it.

00:42:43 Kevin Campbell

Thank you, it's my pleasure.

00:42:44 Andy Goram

Thanks so much. You take care, my friend.

00:42:46 Kevin Campbell

You too.

00:42:47 Andy Goram

OK. That was Kevin Campbell, and if you'd like to know a bit more about him or find out a bit more about some of the things we've talked about in today's show, please check out the show notes.

00:43:00 Andy Goram

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 forwards.

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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