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Why is your team struggling — despite cutting edge HR tools and surveys?

Executives today have increasing amounts of data on their organizations. They can conduct Engagement surveys, Cultural reviews, Team Dynamics analysis, Personality tests, Psycho-analytical assessments, Behavioral models, and good ol’ fashioned data mining of HR data and Social media, just to name a few tools in the marketplace.

While each of these tools is useful in its own way, none of them help executives create a cohesive organizational strategy. They instead, often provide disparate, and sometimes contradictory, views on their organization, leaving managers no better-off than before the analyses were completed. The team members meanwhile grow increasingly frustrated that their voices are not being heard, despite answering every question asked by management and providing honest feedback. This growing rift between teams and executives often lead to deep symptomatic issues within organizations, such as the ones highlighted below:

So, how do you break this cycle?

Executives need a ‘frame of reference’ and organizational context for all the data they gather and seek to consume. Understanding employee relationships allows leaders a rare view into the ‘Inner Workings’ of the team while also providing them with the right organizational context and framework. This context allows leaders to then develop a cohesive and actionable strategy to leverage employee and team strengths while addressing any gaps and vulnerabilities within the organization.

A Brief Case In Point:

Currently, when companies conduct Engagement surveys or Team Dynamics studies, they receive feedback such as: 62% of the employees agree with statement: “My manager is out of touch with my concerns.” while 55% of the employees disagree with the statement: “I trust my manager with personal and work-related problems”. While this provides executives with useful information that their managers need to work on trust and communication, the anonymous nature of such surveys prevents leaders from learning more on the “WHY”, the “WHERE”, and the “HOW” for these issues. In addition, companies typically perform multiple types of surveys and studies throughout the year, each of which provides a different perspective, yet often times with varying degrees of detail and specific actionable results. Leaders also can not discern whether an issue articulated in these surveys are, in fact, urgent and relevant issues or are they largely a perception gap with a minority of team members, the so-called ‘squeaky wheels’.

Potential Actionable Results: Vague directives for everyone in the Management Team to focus on low ranked areas, such as building trust and increasing communications.

Alternative Scenario:

Understanding Employee Relationships can provide executives with the relevant context on this feedback from the employees, and turn this same data into strategic actions.

Employee relationships will show, for example:

  • That the employees felt ‘out-of-touch’ with management since no one from the management team socializes with the rank-and-file employees, instead choosing to socialize with peers.
  • In addition, Trust networks reveal that most of their teams do have leaders who are trusted, however, the largest team is very hub-dependent, and rely on just 1 key mid-level team member, who in turn trusts other junior team members, and does not have trust connections to senior management. This dependency can skew perception for the team, which is compounded by the social disconnect from senior management.

Potential Actionable Results AFTER Employee Relationship Analysis:

  1. Establish social team rituals that involve all layers of management — Management and other leaders are expected to proactively attend, organize, and facilitate these rituals (Pizza Fridays, Bagel Tuesdays, a round of drinks after work on Friday, etc.), to ensure employees see such efforts as genuine and sustainable. Such rituals build social connections, the foundation for good trust relationships in the long-run.
  2. Focus on the communications between the largest team and management to ensure the team receives honest, fair, and transparent updates, feedback & evaluations. Consider additional transparency into the management decision-making process via town halls or skip-level breakfast or lunch meetings.
  3. Leverage the influential Trust Hub in place currently in the largest team by ensuring they are involved in all social rituals and part of any communication efforts.

Find out More:

To learn more about how the innovative new process of Employee Relationship Analysis and how it will help you develop a cohesive and comprehensive organizational strategy, please visit www.organalytix.com, or email info@organalytix.com

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Why Your Diversity Programs Are Not Working

Diverse Population ≠ Inclusive Culture

As a minority woman, I have been part of several different ‘Diversity/Affinity programs across a number of companies and industries. As a manager and leader, I have also been an active member of the recruitment processes, and know that most organizations have rigorous processes and policies in place to attract candidates from diverse backgrounds. Out of all these programs though, only one stands out as being actually effective in attracting and retaining diverse top talent from top schools — The others faltered for a variety of reasons, and either had a hard time attracting diverse top talent or would see high levels of attrition within this small population.

So why did most fail while another seemingly succeeded? How can we replicate this success within our teams?

We all know the benefits of diverse employees stretch much farther than just the reduction of legal/reputation risk or the benefits of staying “on trend” with the rest of the market. The 2015 McKinsey study proves yet again that being diverse actually increases productivity and profits. Companies with diverse populations are up to 35% more likely to outperform their competitors and are more likely to retain their employees for an average of 3–5 years, compared with 18 months average for non-diverse companies.

Companies with diverse populations are up to 35% more likely to outperform their competitors, and are more likely to retain their employees for an average of 3–5 years, compared with 18 months average for non-diverse companies.

However not every company achieves these diversity goals and the subsequent benefits to profitability and productivity. Even companies in Silicon Valley who are greatly focused on People Strategy and Analytics struggle with lack of diversity and the ensuing toxic culture of discrimination and harassment. This issue is sadly not unique to the dynamic Silicon Valley and as the recent viral #MeToo campaign has shown, the issue of implicit discrimination and toxic culture is not an isolated incident in just one type of industry or function or region.

 

So why did these Diversity programs not work? Was it the programs or something broader?

One main reason is that companies and leaders have historically focused on Diverse Populations, not Inclusive Teams. The thinking has been that if we have a large community of people from diverse backgrounds, then we must be a diverse and inclusive workplace, else all those people would not work here. The problem with this thought process is three-fold:

  • Firstly, this metric ignores the situations where employees from diverse backgrounds are employed but self-segregate into homogenous clusters with very little interaction with the broader community. This inhibits the ability for companies to take advantage of the diverse population and in fact inadvertently condones the ‘exclusive’ culture and norms, instead of promoting Inclusivity.
  • Secondly, this metric also ignores that there are two sides of this equation. Not only is there a candidate who has been hired, and is being paid to contribute to the company and team success, but there is also an existing team who have to be welcoming, open-minded, and inclusive towards the new employee to ensure that their ideas are heard and acted upon with the same urgency as those of everyone else in the team. If the second part of the equation is not focused on, then no matter how smart, capable, or innovative the new hire is, he/she will not be utilized appropriately by the team, and this team behavior in fact, can lead to higher attrition amongst the broader team, since team culture does not promote trust and integrity.
  • Thirdly, these metrics are typically backward-looking and present a significant lag for leaders making conscious decisions on how to build trust and inclusive teams. A manager can hire employees from diverse backgrounds, but often doesn’t know if they have been welcomed and have been able to contribute at the average or above average amount — until the annual engagement survey cycle, which can be 15–18 months from the time of hire. This feedback loop is too long, especially with today’s workforce, who no longer work loyally for one company for few years, but rather move from company to company till they find the right fit. This attrition rate due to the lag causes further uncertainty and avoidable operational risk in the team.

All of these risks and short-comings can be easily minimized with more active management of the team culture, and an ability to track and measure inclusivity.

 

However, the current tools available to managers and leaders to measure success of a ‘Diversity Program’ are similarly either numbers-based (how many employees recruited, promoted, etc.) or are opinion-based, focused on how well the employee with diverse background is “fitting in” or conforming to the standards set and the culture propagated by the “traditional” (aka non-diverse) workforce.

These tools are categorically inadequate measures to assess and track whether a workplace is a welcoming place for people from diverse backgrounds and does not help managers actively promote an environment that fosters the best, most creative, highest quality output from their employees. Managers instead need tools to understand how inclusive their teams are and how they interact with each other, particularly with those from diverse backgrounds.

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