I was recently introduced to Todd Zaugg, the CEO at Matrix Achievement, a consulting firm that helps companies improve their sales. In our discussions, Todd made it clear that optimizing your workforce is a vital component to maximizing your sales. So much so, that he actually created a workforce optimization algorithm that he believes all companies should follow. It was so interesting to me, that I had to share it with all of you.
The Changing Employment Market Demands Different Thinking
The demands of today’s workplace environment are real and intense, and the Age of the Employee is clearly upon us. There are several workforce trends that proving this point, including a war for talent, compressed on-boarding times, generally disengaged employees, and declining retention rates. What can organizations do in order to maintain its competitive advantage? Follow this workforce algorithm for success: MEEE=SV™ (Manager + Empathy + Engagement Mechanisms + Employee Assistance Programs = Shareholder Value). Let’s break this down.
M = Manager.
Employees leave companies because of their managers. Does your organization have an effective performance coaching effort that provides managers with the insights and skills to retain key talent while driving performance? Have they been trained to build “emotional bank accounts” with employees during the hiring and onboarding process that will help the manager push when necessary? Do they have a road map to help onboard quickly and compress the employee’s feeling of competency and success (hint: if you are experiencing higher than the industry average turnover, then you have a problem)? Do managers focus solely on the results (retrospective) versus focusing on the best practices of activities (proactive)? We have all heard that culture trumps strategy; the key is that Managers are the guardians of culture as well as process execution and therefore everything starts and ends with them. Organizations are very quickly going to have the revelation that for every action there is a reaction and the “Age of the Employee” creates “the Age of the Manager”.
E = Empathy.
Harvard has proven that Emotional Quotient is a far greater indicator of success than IQ. The great news is that your EQ can be increased with proper training and your front-line managers need this training yesterday in order to help balance results with retention.
E = Engagement Mechanisms.
There are at least 15 ways to drive higher engagement. New employees are demanding to be trained. Millennials were raised during a period of time in which they are used to receiving consistent feedback, coaching, and recognition. This will require organizations to be purposeful in their engagement touchpoints. Some of those touchpoints can be automated. But keep in mind that with more technology, a counterbalance will be an increased need for human interaction. One of the powerful areas of employee engagement impact is related to helping the employee connect to a purpose. Having the employee take a tactical journey in the self-discovery of their “story”, values, strengths, and positivity is an accelerator and sustainer for corporate performance. The years of research on mindset paradigms is moving some areas of our human work experience from what at one time may have been considered the New Age to now being noted as the New Normal. Positivity is one of those. To help prove this point, below are some key statistics from Shawn Achor’s The Happiness Advantage:
- Doctors put in a positive mood before making a diagnosis show almost 3 times more intelligence and creativity than doctors in a neutral state, and they make accurate diagnosis 19 percent faster.
- Optimistic salespeople outsell their pessimistic counterparts by 56 percent.
- Students primed to feel happy before taking math achievement tests far outperform their neutral peers.
- It turns out that our brains are literally hardwired to perform at their best not when they are negative or even neutral, but when they are positive.
Positivity directly correlates to business impact. Here are additional research data points from Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky that scream about the following impacts related to developing happier people:
- Earn more money.
- Better leaders.
- More fulfilling marriages.
- More friends.
- More philanthropic.
- Cope better with stress and trauma.
- Healthier, stronger immune systems.
- Live longer.
- Perform better at work.
Having a positive or negative lens can have a ripple effect impacting the internal and external personnel that employees’ interface with and has a direct line to commercialization success. Meghan Forsey, the National Training Educator for Zimmer Biomet Canada experienced some of this training and stated “We were looking for something that helped us focus on the individual connecting themselves personally to the company’s mission, their specific personal and business goals as well as the day-to-day activities that drive results. Training our sales managers and a cross-section of our sales team had a positive ripple impact on engagement, customer experience, and customer loyalty. Participant feedback showed how hungry individuals are to find the intersection between personal meaning and work. What we found most surprising was that the group that seemed to benefit the most were our self-described skeptics,” Forsey said. “One of these skeptics is an analytical-minded and vocal sales manager who thought the program would be a waste of time and was sharing that opinion with others. He was surprised by the amount of data that exists supporting how a positive mindset can directly impact performance. By making a shift in his thought process, his team did as well. It quickly became clear that the trickle-down effect was real. The key was to provide an actionable architecture for the individual and the manager”.
E = Employee Assistance Programs (EAP).
Approximately 50% of employees state that their stress is high to overwhelming. EAP programs are being updated to include life coaches and the emergence of para-professionals that can help employees navigate critical milestones and unanticipated life events that have the potential to derail their performance at work (check out the emerging platform LifeGuides as an example). The days of asking an employee to compartmentalize their personal life from work life are going the way of the caveman. Very few people can compartmentalize, and it leads to unproductive, or even worse, counter-productive behaviors.
In some ways, the next wave of your competitive advantage is really just an updated augmentation of known insights—your people are your competitive advantage. The MEEE=SV™ is a commercialization algorithm because nothing else in the organization matters more than engaged employees with an emphasis on having meaningful interactions with prospects and customers. The algorithm is a good baseline scorecard that has a lot of sub-categories that are being defined and built out by high performing organizations. It may be time to ask how you measure up to this scorecard and your readiness for the Age of the Employee/Age of the Manager.
Thanks again, Todd, for your wisdom and inspiration for this post. I think most entrepreneurs are simply too busy building out their products, that they don’t know they need to be investing an equal amount of time investing in the development of their teams.