I had worked at Everperform for just over a month when I was tasked with gathering insights on our own team. For eight months the team manager, Daniel, had been sending out a weekly survey (pulse) to measure the mindset of every member in the team. He had also been coordinating one-on-ones and whole team review sessions to discuss the responses and to address any questions or concerns. All this data was captured in our app and needed some unravelling… Enter me! I was very excited to get into our team data.
Prior to being given the data I had been researching the importance of fostering a positive workplace culture. All reports showed that when a business operates authentically by the organisation values there are many positive flow-on effects including improved productivity, increased value to customers and a better overall environment to start your work day. Now with my science brain, I have often read facts and figures and been taught to critically appraise, observe for bias etc. I have also carried out experiments myself in laboratory settings with strict and regimented processes and not witnessed what the literature suggested. However, this is not what happened when I started sifting through the data on our own team — patterns emerged that mimicked exactly what I had been reading about. It was like finding a pot of gold under the rainbow!
So, to familiarise my reader with Everperform, you can read about our Organisation Values and Why we have each of them.
- Always Improve
- Trust First
- Connect Deeply
- Serve Intelligently
- Enjoy Banter
- Teams Win
To ensure that we were the best business we could be, we needed to operate authentically by these values and that is exactly what the pulses enabled and encouraged. The pulse comprised of several evidence based questions to measure alignment, happiness, control, growth and sense of being on track. The pulse was not anonymous and Daniel could see exactly what each person rated and commented (read why here). Daniel often says ‘How can you help someone improve, if you don’t know who they are?’. The pulse was a commitment to improvement, required trust and honesty and allowed connections to be formed within the team. Within three months of implementing the pulses our team saw an improvement in productivity of 284%, which in turn saw our customer usage spike by 1675%.
Patterns emerged through the pulses that provided valuable insights into how each person operates, what is important to them and how they work within the team. When I talked with the team they had interesting insights about their individual learning and development from the pulses. Bryce, one of our genius computer software engineers, commented that it was great to be approached with a weekly check in to voice his opinions. He said it was much more effective than scheduling a time to meet with Daniel himself. Also in the review sessions he felt that much of what he had been feeling throughout the sprint was a shared feeling amongst the team. The team could then collaborate, bounce ideas and walk away much more aligned.
Cristian, another tech legend who sits across from me and has plain sight of all my tech fails (last week I was trying to insert a USB upside down), said that after time ‘the pulses provided valuable patterns’. We could see in the data the strengths and weaknesses of each team member and as a result could direct focus and build on areas that required improvement. We could determine that when one team member’s sense of control went down one week, their productivity decreased the following week whilst when another team member’s sense of value in the company increased as too did their sense of growth and alignment. We knew, without being explicitly told, what factors each individual valued, kept them on track and made the greatest contribution to their productivity spikes and dips. Consequently, appropriate goals and minor changes such as maintaining an ordered desk space saw major improvements in performance output.
Another reason that the pulse worked so well is that when individuals are required to reflect on their own performance as well as the performance of the team they are being held accountable. We can liken it to when someone wants to lose weight and the first thing the dietician requests is for them to keep a food diary. Our team was keeping better track of what they had or hadn’t done throughout the sprint, what their goals were and what factors improved their performance… Much like I now know that I will demolish an entire Cadbury block when I attempt my first practise exam in SWOTVAC.
A critical aspect of the pulse success was that something was actually done with the results. Might sound like a bit of an obvious point but often managers send out surveys to gain feedback simply for the sake of looking like they’re doing something. This only further damages the culture within the office because employees feel, and rightly so, that their time was wasted and valuable insights, opinions and suggestions ignored. When our team pulse was followed through with and Daniel responded to the feedback the team felt heard, which is one of the best things you can make someone feel. Ultimately, it was reassured, through action, to each team member that his or her voice was valuable in the Everperform organisation.
Employees look to each other and to management for how to behave, not to values written on walls or tucked away in documents. As such management needs to embody the organisation values otherwise they will simply exist as meaningless words. Patrick M. Lencioni wrote in his Harvard Business Review article on the topic:
“Empty values statements create cynical and dispirited employees, alienate customers, and undermine managerial credibility.”
Values need to be internalised and practised within the organisation to develop a meaningful workplace culture.
The ideal company commits to making its employees even better — that’s why Always Improve is our number one value. The commitment Everperform has to its employees offers not just a great place to work but a place to grow. Our own use of our app allowed us to highlight strengths, address challenges and develop new skills, as well as improve collaboration and offer valuable insights to the team and individuals.
So rather then expecting employees to rally around a hollow set of words, create a workplace culture that aligns with your company’s values. Get to know the strengths and development areas within your own team and get to know what each individual values and requires to perform their best… The benefits are priceless.