One of the most relevant and worst performing questions in employee engagement surveys is “I understand how my work relates to the strategy of the company.”
In the mid 90’s I ran a customer Service Center, and our employee engagement survey had several areas of improvement that we had to address – one of them was this issue of our employees understanding their role within the Service Center’s and the company’s broader mission.
We had a solid set of key Performance Indexes (KPIs) so we had a good base to work with.
We took one of the walls of the service center and created a huge dashboard about 10’x 6’.
Across the top of the wall we had key categories starting with company financials, service center financials and then the various functions/departments of the Customer Service Center.
Underneath each category we had a series of 8.5” x 11” sheets of paper with the representative KPIs of that category.
For company performance it was Revenue growth and plan versus actual, cost, EBITDA etc.
For the Customer Service Center it was financials. Across the functions and departments it was their representative KPIs. For example:
Customer Service: call volumes, service levels, calls/agent, Customer satisfaction
Order Management: Quality of the order, customer order patterns etc.
Finance: Receivables, Payables
Human Resources: Hiring, employee attrition, employee satisfaction
Once a month we would update the wall and I would hold an all-hands meeting for all 120 employees and I would “walk them through the wall”.
My team and I would give them an update on company performance, on overall Service Center Performance.
We would show the finance department that the receivables work they do impacts the free cash of the company.
We would highlight how the hiring efforts of HR impacted our ability to staff teh organization optimally and deliver performance.
Customer Service efforts and their correlation to company performance and customer satisfaction.
The wall walk was an opportunity to update, educate, to recognize individuals and to highlight areas where we needed to step up.
The wall stayed up all month and everyone was encouraged to write comments of recognition on sticky notes – interactive!
Walking our employees through the wall was very well received and our employee engagement scores went up and we received feedback that our teams better understood their impact to the company beyond their specific function.
I learned a lot and took it with me as I moved into general management. When my organization was dispersed.
I adjusted and the wall turned into a playbook that my team would take with them on their site visits to update employees.
I tried to use various communication methods but always with the idea in mind of not only sharing contextual information to employees about company performance, but as importantly, how they fit into the picture.
It is an ongoing effort, a process.
But employee engagement requires attention, requires a process. It is the fuel that creates a healthy culture, a high performing environment.
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