,

How Teams Operate when Management Isn’t Looking

Sustainable success is beyond skills, experience, leadership and company culture

We’ve all seen it. A great collection of skill sets, strong resume experiences, qualified leadership, nice team building and culture initiatives……yet the team struggles to work together. Managers spend too much time “managing” and far too little time “leading” and facilitating innovation. On the contrary, a group of less talented and unqualified people operating in windowless, basement or garage office space can change the world.

Left to their own devices, teams self-organize, employees take on ad hoc roles (some good, some obstructive) and the team direction can trend toward a set of individual agendas. Strong team chemistry starts with employee relationships, not policies or programs. We all know from our own experience that engineering relationships is unsustainable. However, understanding employee relationships and the way a team is naturally evolving is key in taking decisive actions that will create long term success for the employees, as well as the whole organization.

Strong team chemistry is unpredictable and largely an accident when it happens. Many tools exist for managing candidate resumes, individual performance, personality profiles, leadership assessments, employee engagement, and company culture. These provide great data, but offer few insights into creating strong chemistry among a group of disparate personalities, diverse backgrounds, and varying viewpoints. Rather, we’re provided with lots of information that is isolated and not actionable in affecting the real inner workings of the team. This data could be far more effective if we had visibility into how the team operates beyond the org chart and when management isn’t looking. Targeting where strengths and challenges reside within the organization provides a hidden competitive advantage and enables a multiplier for existing organizational initiatives.

OrgAnalytix provides a platform for easily collecting important interactions between employees by simply asking them 6 easy questions (5 min). No ratings, no rankings, and no need for politically correct (or condemning) answers that bias the findings. Sophisticated algorithms provide customized insights into how the team interacts on important business dimensions, as defined by the executive team. Results also include org chart impacts, individual alignments with key management objectives, key team influencers and employee attrition risks.

Find out more about how OrgAnalytix can help you make targeted and precise org-related decisions by visiting www.organalytix.com or emailing us at info@organalytix.com

,

The #1 Reason Why Good Managers Make Bad Team Decisions: Incomplete Information on their teams

OrgAnalytix Platform

Information on employees and teams is GOLD — This is proven by the vast industry of Human Resource Information Systems — there are a plethora of tools in the market to help managers get more information on their employees, from tools that compile a list of personalities within the team, or anonymous surveys which provide a report card on employee engagement.

However, there are no tools in the market that provide any transparency into the relationships and the undercurrents driving the team performance.

Without this information, even the most intelligent and experienced manager of teams is operating with incomplete informationon their team members. Managers try to compensate for this lack of information through experience and honing their instincts and managerial intuition to guide their decisions. However, without full and complete information on their teams, these instincts are subject to information bias and increase the chances of flawed decision making.

Not only does this opacity in information lead managers into wrong decisions, like ineffective reorgs, unsuitable promotions or erroneous hires, but it also increases the disruptiveness of these decisions leading to greater operational risk. In addition, since managers do not have information to effectively anticipate all the ripple effects from their decisions, managers are forced to make iterative changes, leading to further corrective actions with their own disruptions and ripple effects.

Larger the team, larger the information gap — hence, greater the potential for organizational flux, further increasing risk and cost of managerial decisions. Most importantly, this information gap distracts managers and leaders with tactical iterative decisions, instead of allowing leaders the chance to focus on strategic decisions on customers, product innovation, or productivity realization.

SO HOW CAN MANAGERS BRIDGE THIS GAP?

The latest team management research has focused on team chemistry between employees and spawned new technologies on relationships and team behavior. OrgAnalytix, the pioneer Team Chemistry Analysis company, has developed a new technology solution that provides managers an easy-to-use tool to view and map the actual inner workings of the team. This transparency and insight help managers make precise decisions on organizational changes with minimal disruption and risk to operations.

OrgAnalytix innovative solution conducts Team Chemistry Analysis on teams larger than 50 employees, by incorporating both Employee information (on skills, experience, and personalities) with data on relationships and interactions that employees have with each other. OrgAnalytix algorithms convert this data into an Org Inner-Workings Map which can then be used in the following 3 ways:

  1. Conduct risk assessments on teams, impending projects and changes, such as reorgs or M&A integrations, to understand the sustainability of the changes as well as potential vulnerabilities and threats to successful implementation.
  2. Provide actionable roadmaps for key organizational objectives, such as growth planning or re-structuring the management team hierarchies to better utilize employee skills and talent.
  3. Filter and Interpret results from existing tools, such as engagement surveys or workplace cultural assessments, into specific root cause and actions.

The Team Chemistry analysis also provides potent assessments at an employee level to allow employees to proactively manage their careers by uncovering their hidden informal roles within the team and their level of influence on team members. This transparency can then be harnessed into more targeted training and performance reviews, as well as result in appropriate changes to formal roles and decision rights.

NEXT STEPS

Find out more about how OrgAnalytix can help you bridge this information gap by visiting www.organalytix.com or emailing us at info@organalytix.com

, ,

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

,

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.

Read more

,

A New Way To Improve Your Team’s Performance

One of the many surprises when I entered the field of Operations was how success is measured for an Operations team. Operations managers or Process Leaders are held to 3 key success factors:

1. How much their team produced,

2. The quality (or error rate) of their production, and

3. The cost effectiveness of the production.

Employee or Team Management related metrics such as Attrition rate, Employee Satisfaction, or even Training and Development played a role in overall leadership performance metrics, albeit with minimal impact. If the operational metrics did well, the team related metrics were dismissed as irrelevant or assumed to be incorrect. These metrics only seemed to matter when team performance declined, but because of the disparate attention and importance given during “good times”, as an operations leader, it was easy to just do the bare minimum on these areas and myopically focus instead on the Operational metrics.

In addition, the team management related metrics were also primarily seen as HR metrics, not for Operational leaders. This inconsistency creates a two-pronged issue for organizations; firstly, that HR managers are held to metrics which have little impact on their day-to-day functions, and secondly, that Operational leaders who deal with the impact of high attrition, low satisfaction, and inadequate training, are not given ownership or credit for improving any of these metrics.

As the old adage goes, employees often do not leave companies, they leave their managers. And those who stay, often do not stay due to the # of units they did or did not produce, but because they identify with the team and company, and enjoy what they do and whom they do it with. Yet Operational leaders who create and manage teams that have strong trusting bonds are not always celebrated or recognized for those trusting bonds — they are only celebrated when their team eventually demonstrates higher productivity or quality, which sometimes can take months or years to materialize, if at all. This delay in recognition provides managers with a warped incentive of managing their team for the short-term results, instead of long-term sustainable success.

On the other end, akin to measuring a scorekeeper’s performance by measuring how well the team performed, HR leaders’ success is not always measured by the processes they perform, but rather by broad team related metrics over which they have very little impact. This results in an under-utilized function, whose role is severely handicapped due to confusion on how and what contribution they can make to the team. For example, one of HR success metrics tends to be ‘attrition rate’, yet if an HR manager identifies that key employees are “burning out” due to excessive workload, they neither have the power or the budget to hire more support staff for that team, nor do they have any control over a given employees day-to-day workload.

SO WHAT SHOULD THE METRICS BE?

Operational leaders should be held accountable for the team dynamics they encourage, and the resulting work culture propagated across their teams. Detailed metrics such as Attrition, Employee Engagement/Satisfaction, Inclusivity, and Effective onboarding and Training should be added as primary success metrics for Operational leaders, not HR departments.

These metrics reflect the realities facing the team on a more real-time basis than how many widgets went through the assembly line — mainly because the effects of a toxic culture or an over-worked team are only seen over the long-term when enough employees leave that the production levels are severely impacted. All too often, by the time this occurs, the culture and team dynamics have reached a point of no return, and it becomes much harder for any subsequent manager to turn the performance around.

However, measuring the employee related metrics, especially if captured multiple times a year, will allow managers the insight into the drivers behind team performance, and provide them with enough lead-time to correct course and ensure the right talent is retained and developed for continued success.

The employee engagement and attrition metrics are also similar to balance sheets on the financial side — they are accretive and provide a view on the team at a specific point in time, taking into account all the prior activities, instead of just a snapshot of a certain period (such as monthly or quarterly production metrics). This additionally provides insight for the leadership to ensure that their actions are in fact leading to consistent improvement for the team performance, not just a short-term jump in productivity or efficiency.

 

 

Employee Related metrics are often seen as capturing the “soft” side of performance and are duly discounted as being hard to measure and even harder to impact. While there are a lot of tools that do measure and try to gauge sentiments and opinions of employees, there are new and innovative ways being developed that actually marry these same sentiments with hard data on actual interactions and relationships between employees. These new tools help leaders measure and gauge how the team is feeling about the company and the work they do, but also understand the most likely root cause for these sentiments and how to effect quick change in the team and improve their performance.

Relationship Network Analysis, or Organizational Network Analysis, has been a field of study and research for more than 3 decades in the academic community. This fascinating field looks at how employees in an organization interact with each other in different scenarios (e.g. social vs. mentorship vs. knowledge sharing) and work to identify patterns of behavior and gaps in networks that can make the network, i.e. the team, as a whole operate more efficiently.

While this field of study has focused on interactions between employees, an equally fascinating industry of employee engagement surveys has popped up over the past 2 decades that purport to measure exactly how an employee is feeling about the organization. This industry has spawned multiple large companies, with to be more than $1B in annual revenue, and is one of the fastest growing sectors within what is considered Human Resources Tech or People Analytics field. These new innovative tools have made it relatively painless for the HR manager to “take the temperature” of an organization at any given time. The only major limitation to these surveys is often just the ‘survey fatigue’ from answering an average of 80+ questions per survey. The length of the surveys is due to their inherent design of using one-sided questions to determine the context behind the sentiments being articulated. While these surveys are very efficient in gauging the sentiment of the employees, their format does not often capture the organizational context of the sentiments, and neither do they fully identify the root causes behind the team performance and behavior.

This is where tools such as OrgAnalytix fit in. Their innovative combination of Organizational Network Analytics with Employee Engagement surveys help managers actually understand the causes behind the issues highlighted by the team, and the fastest, least disruptive way to correct course and address these issues. For example, finding out that 40% of your employees are not satisfied with the level of training provided is great information, but not immediately actionable. Even breaking this down to which gender or which functional team they are part of doesn’t show managers the cause — it just allows for a granular break out of the results. Instead if managers are told that employees are unhappy because they are not connected with the key knowledge sharing hubs in the company, and are on average 3 degrees away from the knowledge hub, then managers can start focusing on how to help knowledge flow more efficiently across the team, so employees feel that they have the right information and training they need to succeed. Without the network analysis, managers would have interpreted the results as more investment needed in training programs. In fact, the true root cause was not training program investment but changes to specific knowledge sharing and communication flow pathways.

 

HOW DOES THIS WORK? WHAT DOES THIS COST?

 

Unlike Traditional Engagement surveys, network analysis data is gathered via a simple name selection method where employees have to select the names of their colleagues whom they go to for specific information or roles. They then have the option to then rank their selections. This simple process is augmented by some basic sentiment gauge type questions, such as ‘would you recommend this company to your friend’ etc.. Since the network portion of the tool already captures the context behind the responses, the sentiment related questions can be focused on the general feelings and opinions of the employees hence do not have to be as copious and intensive. This process is less taxing on the team while providing managers with more details, context, and root causes behind the employee related metrics.

HOW IS THIS INFORMATION USED?

This simple method of gathering data goes through several different machines for analysis. Firstly, the data collected becomes completely anonymized to protect the identities of the employees and their responses. The data then gets converted into network maps, one for each ‘Name Selector’ question asked. These network maps go through a variety of machine learning models which identify the roles and network/team dynamics articulated by the team. The ‘Sentiment’ and other Org data is then overlaid on to the network maps which is then analyzed and presented to each manager / the leadership team member, as appropriate for the organization. Any action plans and next steps are entered into the tool directly by each manager and used to track progress for any subsequent analysis completed for the team.

WHAT ELSE CAN THIS ANALYSIS HELP ME WITH?

Engagement surveys are not the only tool that this type of analysis can replace. Another facet of the tool is to use these network analysis maps to conduct 360º reviews or understand how Inclusive your team is with regards to diverse employee backgrounds, etc. In addition, this tool can help managers understand which employees are most “in demand” by the rest of the team for certain team-related activities such as mentorship advice or training/knowledge share. Understanding this ‘intangible overhead’ can help managers be more effective in resource management and workload balancing and identify those ‘burn out’ or ‘hidden gem’ candidates faster.

The 3 additional features and applications of this analysis are as follows:

1. Replace your biased 360º Review Process

  • When this tool is used for 360º, we anonymize the names of the people who chose an employee but display the objective “review” on that employee from the rest of the organization.
  • BENEFITS: Because this tool does not limit the responders to just the direct line colleagues, or those chosen by either the manager or the employee themselves (which creates a selection bias in the data), this process is akin to a crowdsourced review on every employee.
  • This analysis also separates out the various roles that an individual would play within any team, such as that of Mentor, or a Cultural Ambassador or an Information Courier. This, coupled with the unique rating mechanism built into the data gathering system allows for a multi-dimensional analysis of every employee in the team.

2. Attract and Retain the Top Talent, including those from Diverse Backgrounds

  • The network maps and sentiment questions asked of the team can be modified to gather data specific to the inclusion, innovation, and sponsorship that employees feel within the organization.
  • Once the data is gathered, we then overlay any categorical information on gender, ethnicity, background, etc.
  • The analysis results will also focus on idea generation, support, and sponsorship of new ideas, and help managers track where and how new innovative ideas are being circulated and vetted and if there are any roadblocks preventing innovative ideas from being implemented.

3. Strengthen Accountability and Trust

  • This analysis helps managers understand the demands that the team and other members of the organization place on each employee, and understand if those demands pose any operational risk to the team.
  • Similar to the 360º review process, while we share the demands placed by the team on an individual, we would mask the identity of the selectors, thereby giving managers an anonymous view on how the team really interacts with each other and if they rely on one person more than the other.

IN CONCLUSION

Managing your organization for long term success means Operational metrics have to be updated to include the ‘Employee-related’ metrics, which have been heretofore erroneously been measured as HR metrics. Operational managers, however, need tools and analysis that are data-driven, actionable, and do not create a large overhead for the team. Despite the boom in People Analytics in recent years, managers are still left with a metaphorical Thermometer to measure and help correct complex organizational issues such as motivation, innovation, and collaboration. New innovation which marries the field of sentiment gauges with powerful organizational network analysis can help operational managers understand, assess, and track progress and understand the context around employee behavior, leading to better, more timely decisions for the team.

Learn more at info@organalytix.com or www.organalytix.com