Every big leap takes the right timing, careful planning, intention, a clear goal, and focus. And there are many influences at play that ensure a “successful landing.” Yet there is an immediate imperative to execute this leap as the world of work rapidly evolves. So, drawing from the amazing speakers at Centrical’s Success 2022, I thought I would share the insights I gleaned from the people who have already taken “the leap” and witnessed first-hand the impact it’s having on addressing the issues of retention, motivation, and growth.
A New Blueprint for the Radical Leap Ahead
For decades, business has had a set of schematics on which work was built; Work 9-5, information is power so hoard it away, focus on the input regardless of the output. Physically bound to the workplace, learning is dumped on you in bulk with an expectation that it’s absorbed overnight, and the notion that employees will simply be grateful for a job.
However, over the last couple of years, an evolutionary leap has occurred in how we work. The pandemic accelerated digital transformation and removed many constraints we previously had. Employees are working anytime and anywhere which has forced businesses to look at the outputs instead of input and employees have had a voice like never before. The future of work is here, we are now in the age of the employee, and as such employees are taking a stand on what work should look like. And, if work doesn’t meet the new tests of engagement, then they are voting with their feet.
This is being realized by companies who have not adjusted to the new blueprint of work in the form of high employee attrition and low employee engagement. This is being further exacerbated by rising inflation, salary pressure, the war in Ukraine, and the uncertainty of whether COVID is really behind us.
So, the environment has changed and those established preconceived notions of work might as well be from the dark ages. The gap between what work was and what it is today is growing at a rapid pace, making the need to leap to the modern workplace an imperative.
Employees Must Have Clear Goals
Lisa Leslie, WNBA champion, all-time highest scorer and rebounder, and 4-time Olympic champion summed up nicely why goals are important when she said, “By having that focus of what it is that I wanted to achieve it really forced me to make sacrifices. And I think that’s really what it’s about when we have goals, we have to make sacrifices to reach those dreams.”
It’s one thing to set goals but it’s the clarity that goes along with these goals that will see them executed. Often, we set goals without explaining that they require hard work and sacrifice. Knowing this upfront not only provides clarity but also allows an employee to align the company goals with their own, which is something companies like Hilton have realized.
Companies need to understand employee goals too. Lisa spoke to the power of knowing your employees’ goals when she said “We have to understand what an individual’s goals are because some people come to work but their job may not be their ultimate stop. It might just be a means to an end because they have to feed their family.” Regardless of the motivation, it is good to understand it because it helps managers align goals with individuals.
Through understanding clear goals, we start to gain a sense of shared purpose. No longer is it just about the company goals but instead both the employee and company goals. Employees must understand why their work matters and how reaching their goals will contribute to the organization’s success.
Employees want clear goals and I thought Linda Malone’s, Senior Director of Reservations and Customer Care for Hilton, story on how they named their Centrical platform confirmed this. Hilton asked their staff what they believed the Centrical platform would deliver to them, and they came up with, “Rise, recognize, inspire, set goals, and empower.”
It’s almost poetic. So beautifully simple. See me, show me but also show me why and then trust me.
Ownership and Autonomy Lead to Social Learning
Empowerment leads to a sense of ownership and autonomy. But why is this good for business and employees? For starters, employees are more likely to engage, problem solve, and be creative when they have autonomy and own their role as if it was their own company. Like many proud business owners, they are going to want to share their success, which not only helps others but is also an intrinsic motivator.
So why would we not then make sharing knowledge a priority? It could be because traditionally, sharing of knowledge has been seen as ‘too risky’ or hidden behind the veil of the term ‘single source of truth’. I’m not suggesting it’s ok to play the game of whisper down the lane with important information, however facts without context often lead to lines in the sand that don’t drive great customer or employee experiences. This is why social learning is finding a safe place in the new world of work.
There is something to be gained from applying real-life experiential tips from front-line employees with verified facts. Progressive organizations like Payoneer are recognizing this and are putting it into practice with what they call “Own personal coach[es].” Naomi Roney, Customer Care, Training Development, and Quality Assurance Group Manager for Payoneer explained how they are leveraging content not just from learning professionals in the company but also content from the managers and front-line employees, and through using Centrical they can provide an environment that curates a learning journey that is not only autonomous but personalized. No longer is it forced upon employees from the top-down, instead they are empowering their staff to be their own personal coach in the process.
Jessica DiCicco, Vice President of Learning and Development at Randstad, put it nicely when she shared a story of her learning journey compared to her children’s. She said: “As a child, I was in a classroom model, and it was a lot of individual learning. And if I go to the classrooms for my children today, they’re in pods and they are learning together. They are collaborating a lot.”
The value of knowledge isn’t just changing, it’s already changed. The days of knowledge hoarding to get ahead at work are long gone. After all, we live in a world where anyone can learn anything on YouTube and we can easily share our experiences online in today’s world of infinite information and scrolling. People want to share their voices and learn from others. So why not embrace this? Imagine for a second how an employee who is used to this would feel walking into a workplace and experiencing the odd sense that sharing information is taboo.
Jessica reinforced this notion when she said, “we as learning professionals need to take a look at how we’re training our employees because they’re used to social learning and collaboration. And we need to make for sure that any of the training that we do has that collaboration element to it because that’s most effective for our employees.”
Social learning is about seeing each others strengths and weaknesses and then collaborating to grow together. Ultimately creating a culture of learning.
Motivation + Inspiration = Engagement
Constant motivation is tough… and I’m going to go so far as to say ineffective if not combined with other elements. Throwing money at pizza days may win you some short-term brownie points but it definitely won’t inspire people. So, to reach the ultimate goal of employee engagement motivation needs to be used in an appropriate and timely manner.
Brian Snyder, Regional Director of Cellular Sales said it best when he said, “the difference between motivation and inspiration is when somebody’s motivating you, they’re wanting you to do something right. But when you’re inspired, you want to do it for yourself.”
I had never realized that which made me reflect on times I was motivated verse times I was inspired in my life and it got me thinking. Motivation is like a match, it should spark something. Inspiration is the fuel in the fireplace and engagement is the roaring fire once lit, heating the household and those huddled around the mantle.
Brian also talked about how the team at Cellular Sales come to work for themselves and their families and to exercise their passions, which goes back to my earlier point of understanding employees’ personal goals (inspiration). Motivation should be the nudge that reminds employees that the business objectives are there as a vehicle to achieve one’s personal goals. The moments of celebration and encouragement no matter how big or small should always be linked to the employees’ goals because that is most likely the thing that is inspiring them.
Let’s Get Personal
From learning to performance and goals to wellbeing. The overwhelming message out of Success 2022 was “see me and treat me as an individual.”
Learning and coaching need to be hyper-relevant and timely. Delivered in the moment of need. Not so easy when you may be managing what feels like 18,000 contact centers of one.
Success 2022 however showed that it is possible. Technology has come so far. AI can provide insights that help managers to scale their impact. If we allow it to augment our abilities, without sacrificing personalization, there’s real power.
Claire Hillier, Partner Lead for Customer Experience Partners at Amazon Web Services shared a story about how AI and human intelligence combined are far more powerful than working independently. She spoke of research conducted whilst she was at MIT around x-rays and cancer. If the consultant looked at an x-ray, they could tell where somebody had cancer with about a 3.5% error rate. And when they got the systems with the AI, trained to do the job it would get around a 7.5% error rate. But the ingenious thing was when they combine the consultant and the AI, they were getting to a 0.5% error rate.
AI and human intelligence combined have the power to deliver hyper-personalized learning journeys and coaching experiences which is being realized by Robin Harrison, CMO of Webhelp who said “we found that personalized learning paths and push notifications associated with it really drives adoption of self-paced learning.”
I want to end where I started. Every big leap takes the right timing, careful planning, intention, a clear goal, and focus. The time is now, the goal is clear, the planning has been laid out for you and your intentions are good. Now all you need to do is focus… and take the leap.