You have therefore understood that the employee experience does not consist of people experiencing pleasant things, but rather experiencing them when they do their job, that there is therefore a subtle difference between “being at work” and “being working” and that in the end “experiencing pleasant things” means “working efficiently and fluidly with all the necessary support and without unnecessary hindrances”. This is good. Now it is time to draw the consequences.
The real work beyond the broad principles
As a manager at the level of your team or as an employee experience manager at a more global level knowing which guiding principles to apply is quite simple.
2°) Make things more fluid
That’s all well and good, but once we say that, what do we do? When it comes to transforming an organization the self-fulfilling prophecy doesn’t work. Using “soft” methods such as working on soft skills or I don’t know what kind of (self-) coaching can accompany but will not change anything to the problem because we are not only talking about bad habits taken by employees but also about rules and processes prescribed by the company.
You need a clear vision of what gets stuck in order to be able to tackle it, and to do that you have to go down to the details.
Experience is in the details
It’s very interesting to ask a manager what his staff does at work. When you ask the question the most natural and logical answer is to describe each other’s mission. But that’s not the question: the mission is what they have to accomplish, not how they do it.
So when you start digging into the “how”, you end up with a list of activities at a fairly macro level that describes the daily life of their employees. “They make appointments”, “they elaborate commercial proposals”, “they track the profitability of projects”, “they organize and manage resources”, “they do this or that thing on the basis of such and such instructions”, “they do this type of reporting”, “they make the link between xxxx and xxxx”
Nothing surprising or shocking here. We are still in the “what”. But we can already see that some parts of their activity could already be automated.
No, the “how” asks to go into an even higher level of detail. Namely, and at least :
- What triggers this activity
- What information do they have at that time. How it is transmitted, by whom, where it is located.
- Is the flow of tasks that make up this activity formalized (even in large ways for things that require adaptability), is there a “check list” of things not to forget (very useful for newcomers but not only). Is it, indeed, rigid or flexible?
- Do they have to reinvent the wheel every time or are there deliverable templates?
- Is the information they need easily available and usable? Do they have to reprocess it in order to use it?
- Generally speaking, what is the life cycle of the information used? Does it flow smoothly from tool to tool, from processing to processing, do people spend their time copying and pasting from one tool to another? Who captures what information? Who uses it? Who processes and retrieves it? How long does it all take?
- What happens if there is a “problem”? According to the types of problem how, under what conditions, by mobilizing who, how and according to what procedure does one obtain a solution?
- What validations are necessary during the flow? From whom? On the basis of what? How quickly are they obtained?
- What reporting is required? What data is it based on? What volume of work does it involve? At what rate?
- What are the management and control interfaces? What meetings (and how are they followed up and prepared), with whom, at what pace, what inputs, what workload do they require?
- What other people are involved? How is the collaboration and coordination between these people, and a fortiori when they are not members of the same team?
- How are people managed? What is the style of management or leadership of the manager(s)?
- If the activity mobilizes different people in a team or even (and especially) people from different teams, what are the objectives of each, are they coherent and aligned for one and the same person, coherent and aligned within the team?
Well it’s only an overview but it’s already a starting point and in any case it’s the one and only way to know what your teams really do when they work! And I’m sorry to say that many managers only have a very fragmented vision of the matter or don’t measure the extent of the damage. Worse still when you go up a level: their own managers don’t care about the subject and the middle manager finds himself between the rock and the hard place, between people who ask for anything and everything and always faster and teams on the verge of breaking point.
What you learn when you look at what people do at work
The list of conclusions you can draw from such an analysis is almost endless. But some things should surprise or even outrage you:
- Lack of formalization: things happen but nobody knows how, processes are transmitted orally, so the new people are lost and everyone does things a little bit in his or her own way.
- Friction points at almost every stage.
- Confusion between formalism and rigidity: giving a guideline is essential but in many cases it is necessary to allow the employee to adapt to his context by remaining faithful not to the rule but to its spirit.
- The number of unnecessary steps that could be removed or automated.
- The time wasted entering, processing and reprocessing information and switching it from one tool to another.
- The time wasted in meetings and in making documents that feed those meetings.
- The slowness of decision-making processes that are poorly adapted to the demands of speed in the field. The same applies to problem solving and the need to be able to find a solution alone or in a group and implement it.
- Processes that are generally designed to save time for one function by putting the workload on another and, generally speaking, which transfer part of the work of support functions to operational staff, thus organizing their efficiency to the detriment of that of others.
- Inconsistency in the objectives of different people contributing to an activity, particularly when it involves people from different teams. When one is measured on one indicator and the other on another, I promise you that the trade-offs are anything but obvious.
- Employees who spend their time reinventing the wheel.
- We’ve turned so-called operational employees into bureaucrats, they suffer from it, we continue to evaluate them on the operational side while they spend 70% of their time on the administrative side.
- You can’t change things on your own at the team level because a lot of the things you do will have an impact on other teams (and vice versa). So you will have to work together.
I stop the list here and let you complete it according to your own experience.
And once we know what people do at work, what do we do?
Once this healthy work is done you will have a fairly clear vision of the issue and your problems. You will also put into perspective the importance of the playstation budget that you voted for the rest room and of your latest well being initiative (which does not in any way call into question its importance).
You will have understood why your teams are suffering, why they are frustrated, why the mass of talent at your disposal does not produce the expected results and in the end why you are wasting “crazy money” by trying to run a jammed machine at full speed, at the risk of breaking it as well.
But then how do you put things back in place? We’ll talk about that in a next post of course .