If my chosen title makes you roll you eyes because you think there is no wisdom in your workforce, read no further. This isn’t for you.
If you’re still with me, here’s the bottom line. There is enormous, but typically untapped, wisdom in an organization’s workforce. If you learn how to tap that wisdom, you can use it as a source of competitive advantage.
Here are the four steps that will get you there:
Step #1 –A “smarter” employee survey
As I argued last week in Debunking Employee Engagement Myths traditional employee engagement (or satisfaction) surveys are simply not up to the task. The problem is that engagement is a psychological construct about what motivates individuals to grant the gift of their discretionary effort. While that is necessary for great producing results, it isn’t sufficient. It fails to adequately capture important “organization-level factors” necessary for making the best possible use of employees’ time. And perhaps more important, it fails to capture other gems of the workforce’s wisdom about how to improve your standing as a good seller and steward – standing that creates enormous economic benefit.
Step #2 –“Linkage analysis” to business outcomes
Statistically linking a thoughtfully-constructed employee survey (step #1) to other data – such as customer satisfaction measures, sales numbers, cost containment effectiveness, 360 degree feedback – enables you to identify with precision and rigor the human drivers of key business outcomes. This is the essence of creating actionable business intelligence on the “people side” of your business. See my blog How to Create Actionable Business Intelligence on the “People Side of Your Business.”
Step #3 –A rigorous, fact-based process for identifying the most important areas of opportunity
To identify the most important areas of opportunity for improving business outcomes, it is necessary to statistically combine two pieces of information: (a) measures of relative strength and weaknesses (from Step #1) with (b) measures of the statistical importance of each of the various human drivers of business outcomes (from Step #2). It takes both of these pieces of information, combined in a disciplined manner, to come to the right conclusions about where the organization should be focusing its attention and budget in order to create great results.
Step #4 –Insightful, easy-to-understand recommendations for improving business results
Getting to Step #3 represents a huge shift for most organizations – one that would put you well on the path to become more strategic. But unless you learn to communicate the findings from your analysis in an insightful and easy-to-understand manner, you will not get the full advantage of this breakthrough.
A data dump – a lengthy PowerPoint presentation of one graphic after another – does not create insight. It is simply a data dump. So the last step is to work hard to communicate simply and compellingly. This is as much art as it is science – but a skill that is well worth developing.
Laurie Bassi is CEO of McBassi&Company, email@example.com