Thursday, April 12, 2018

Continuous Leadership Learning

The New Leadership Pulse  

Ready for the Relaunch 

In 2003 we started an experiment in learning - we called it the Leadership Pulse. The idea hatched at the University of Michigan (when I was on the faculty) to take the innovations we developed at eePulse, Inc. to a larger audience. 

In a partnership with the University of Michigan Executive Education program, we started doing quarterly pulses with the alumni who went through their programs. We blended two new ideas to make this offering unique and useful to people who contributed.

1) Personal diaries and reflective learning 

In most survey work, you participate and then wait a long time to get feedback. The person running the survey closes the survey, reviews the data, analyzes the data, and writes up a report. In 2003 (and still today) our eePulse technology had the unique feature of providing every individual survey taker with a personal report. We did this because we were the first company (that we found) to start using pulse technology with companies as frequently as weekly. What we quickly learned was that if you expect people to answer your questions frequently, then they need something in exchange, and we opted to provide new learning. Back in 1996 we developed personal reports for our survey participants; when surveys closed, rather than waiting around for a report, every respondent could log in and see their own scores vs. benchmark data. We provided information on how to use the data for their own development. 

2) Data on employee energy at work 

Also, in 1996 I started a large research study on employee energy. Thus, in addition to a series of other topics studied, in every pulse we collected data on employee energy. These series of studies helped us improve and continue to validate the work on energy. We found over the years that frequent measures of employee energy PREDICT important individual and organizational outcomes. Energy fluctuates a lot more than other attitudinal metrics, thus, studying variance and the gap between working energy and optimal energy provides key metrics for prediction and performance. 

Combine energy and reflective learning for leaders and you get Leadership Pulse 101. 

We continued the Leadership Pulse, trending energy and adding questions on several different themes. Over the years as my career changed, I moved the project to the University of Southern California's Center for Effective Organizations (CEO). With this team the Leadership Pulse has evolved.

I put the overall body of work on hold for a couple of years while I took on a new job and took some time out to rethink and improve. 

In a few weeks you will get an email about the new Leadership Pulse, and I hope you join us in this new learning opportunity.  We're taking what we learned over the years and giving the Leadership Pulse an upgrade. 

We are building on the self or reflective learning, adding new technology including digital badges and we are focused on making the process more useful for leaders and soon-to-be leaders who want to improve their skills. 

We continue to work with the University of Southern California's Center for Effective Organizations, and with that team of thought leaders we provide insights and contributions to help our members learn. As we continue, you will see other universities and thought leaders joining our team, and this overall team will provide better connections, new insights, and real-time and relevant learning. 

Join Leadership Pulse 201 - remodeled, rethought and moving learning forward. 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Employee-Centric Engagement for 2018

If you are looking to upgrade, update or improve your employee engagement program in 2018, consider doing something radically new. 


We've been experimenting the last few years with a new approach to employee engagement that we call employee-centric engagement, and we are discovering that it is a much-needed add on to traditional employee engagement programs, and this approach does not eliminate the traditional work in engagement, but it enhances it in a new way that puts that employee at the center.

The idea came from some work that I did many years ago in the area of productivity gainsharing.  Through a series of studies I found that even though much attention was given to sharing wealth and calculating formulas to share the gains, it seemed like the real benefit from the programs was not coming from the money but from having employees in charge of generating ideas, validating ideas and presenting ideas for productivity improvement.

We took those ideas (which are core to many other programs used over the years) and combined them with the work we had been doing at eePulse on energy pulsing. The result was a unique model for putting employees and a team of ambassadors in charge of the energy pulsing process, and using the individual employee reflection, brainstorming and ideation tools - along with root cause analysis - to help move from learning to idea generation to idea implementation to strong ROI from change.

Managers are in the coaching role instead of struggling with interpretation of bits of data from surveys.

Employees work with ambassadors by reflecting on their own data, in their own energy pulsing reports. The employees and managers find ideas and do the work necessary to present a limited number of ideas to managers. They all work together on implementation.

The whole process engages everyone - managers no longer feel the survey is a secret performance appraisal method.  Employees feel very engaged.  Employees are learning from their own data. And ambassadors, who are people interested in learning more about management, thrive by being a role that helps everyone.

2018 - it's the year to put the employee in the middle of employee engagement.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Innovate, Disrupt and Improve Your Survey and Engagement Tools

The employee survey has taken root in many organizations. In fact, in some organizations it may have not only solidly embedded itself but also infested the organization because it causes more harm than good.

Perhaps that is because the survey and engagement processes have not evolved. Yes, technology has changed the process to be on line vs. using paper. But check out what's being done these new new on-line surveys – not much.

The availability of survey technology has led to more use of prettier and slicker tools, but at its core the process remains unchanged.  There is nothing innovative or disruptive about the way employee or customer surveys are done. In fact, the technology is so simple to use that often even less thought is taken about what questions to ask or why they are being asked.

Think about the annual employee survey. In many firms it is a required and sacred process that seems to be changing at a snail’s pace. We ask questions that, in reality, managers can't do anything about, but we give them the results to develop action plans. There is no accountability for the actions other than raising scores.

Why do we care if the score goes from 80% favorable to 82% favorable? Is that really a cause for celebration? What is gained from a 2% change? What if the improvement comes at a cost of employees being less efficient and productive? The link between these minuscule gains in score and firm performance are almost never studied or known. 

The annual survey is an annual report - so treat it like one. Who uses the annual report to manage the business or to make decisions?  No one. 

If you want a tool that truly helps managers make better decisions and that also uses the voice of the employee to help provide better insights, then you have to radically disrupt your survey process because doing the same thing with a different vendor is not going to help you.

Transforming Surveys into Leadership Tools with Energy at the Core 

* The new survey and engagement tool should do what engagement was originally intended to do -- that is, help employees bring their best selves to work. 

* The transformed engagement process does 2 things: 1) employee brings best self to work via doing new behaviors 2) and those activities are in sync with business goals and objectives.

* Most managers hate getting survey data back with the dictate to do something. They don't know what to do; the data they get back to them is whining about things they can't fix. The transformed survey and engagement tool remedies this with a proven methodology that brings solutions to the manager NOT problems. 

* The transformed survey is not a survey; employees say it is a "communication and continuous improvement" process. 

Transform and then What? 

The transformed process includes documentation of return on investment (ROI). We record ROI data and ROI stories. The power of these stories is to continuously transform. 

Learn more about this process by contacting me at:

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What are ERGs?

If you don't know, it's time to find the answer because they are influencing individuals, teams, leaders and other stakeholders to make big differences in innovation, growth, talent management and the future.  

We are counting down the days to the 2016 Employee Resource Group (ERG) Leadership Summit that is being held at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation March 8 - 9, 2016.

To get ready for the program, I have had several conversations with the experts who are presenting at the event. I also have spent quite a bit of time talking to a lot of people who have never heard of ERGs and wonder why they should care. In fact, there are a lot of individuals who have no idea what ERGs are -even in companies that have ERGs. This is a fascinating fact because ERGs have been in existence in various forms since the 1960s. Starting out as part of a national effort to quell racial tensions, the early caucuses transformed into affinity groups and later to employee resource groups (ERGs). Today we see them continuing to evolve, with some businesses calling them business resource groups because they are indeed focused on providing resources to members and the business.

ERGs are marching forward and supporting business agendas for growth. They are innovating, creating, teaching and building trust. There's a lot to learn from ERGs, but unfortunately you will not find that knowledge in a book. There is simply not much written about these organizations and how they work. So we're learning from each other - in person and live - the old fashion way.  

McKesson is going to talk about their experiences in transforming the structure of their ERGs to drive more results in their global business. Steven Rice, the CHRO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has a unique take on ERGs having worked with them in several organizations over his career. He and I had a very interesting conversation about where ERGs are going and how they can help companies of any size.

Do you know Gordy Graham? Gordy's message about inclusion is a unique one, and his journey from prisoner  to escape artist and then to change management guru will shed light on how the work of ERGs can be thought about in very different lights. How can all of us use our lives to help influence and make change to individuals and groups who are not getting the assistance they need?

We're learning about how people, working together, can influence the business in a positive way.Senior executives from Lenovo and Motorola are going to talk about how they are working with their ERGs to help build a new business together. Speakers from Paramount Pictures and Blue Shield are contributing their experiences to the base of knowledge.

Remember show and tell? Our participants learn a lot by doing the same activity; they bring examples of their work and share it with their peers. They walk around, ask questions, and learn.  

Our sponsors, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, AT&T, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Blue of California and Novo Nordisk are helping make the event useful to every single participant. I invite you to join the learning and help us take ERGs to the next level.