In the first article in this series, we walked through Guidepost statements, and why they are so important to the success of your initiatives.
However, if you think of goals as your ultimate destination, it’s not enough to know that you are headed to Bangalore, Boston or Brisbane. First, you should know if you’re starting out in Copenhagen, Cambridge (US) or Cambridge (UK).
There are two ways to check your starting point.
Assess your “state of the state”.
This involves reviewing your current systems, processes, and results. For example, if you’d like to undertake a new measures initiative next year, what are you measuring now? What are the behaviors that are a byproduct of what you are measuring? Or if you’d like to stand up a true knowledge-first culture for your service and support team, what pain points in your current knowledge-sharing system will it address?
Talk to your employees.
Ask them for their input. Find out what is working well in their workflow and where the process trips them up. After all, who would know better than the people who play an active role in it every day? They know where the proverbial dead bodies are buried – ask them in a safe space and they will point them out.
When we work with clients, we often see a gap between where leadership thinks an organization stands, and where the employees working in the trenches know it is. The leadership’s impressions of a company’s strengths and weaknesses often don’t align with those of their employees. When that happens, it’s easy to put the cart before the horse and stumble right out of the gate.
We see many companies where leadership wants to push forward with initiatives that they think are critical, but the teams are simply not able to carry out. For example, a service and support director might ask us to help them stand up a knowledge-first intelligent swarming initiative. Their employees know about the problems. Their culture isn’t truly knowledge-first. Their measures are not team-based. Their managers are enforcers, not player-coaches. But leadership just got back from a conference where a key competitor rolled out intelligent swarming, so they are ready to push forward.
A better way to ask your employees, based on 2 years of research
It sounds so simple. Just ask your employees. However, we know from working with tens of thousands of employees that it isn’t easy to get their opinion in a way that helps you set strategy and direction. So we spent two years developing a short, simple employee survey that asks your team for their input on your strategy. It’s just 14 questions, and it takes less than three minutes to fill out, even if English is their second language.
From their answers, we extrapolate your “Service DNA.” This is a measure of your maturity against six dimensions: people, process, technology, culture, leadership, and metrics. Each provides us data and a critical perspective into what works and what doesn’t.
The reason so many companies find the assessment helpful is that it shows them what is possible, not just what their employees think of them. We compare the score to other organizations we’ve worked with and our algorithms match the company with others of similar size facing comparable issues. We share what worked for them and help you adapt it for your team. Often, leaders find that their planned initiatives are not a good fit for their teams.
Assessing the current state of your organization and team is essential in making plans for the coming year. Do your goals match the current capabilities of your team and workflow? Or is there some foundational work that needs to come first? The assessment finds the balance that allows teams to complete their work simply and joyfully, in the workflow, greatly improving your chances of meeting next year’s goals.
Considering your employees’ input may be the best first step you can take in developing strategic plans. After all, it’s always better to improve a process than simply follow it, but not if the “improvements” increase the customer and employee effort or destroy your bottom line.
As you plan for the next year, why not ask your employees first?