The solution for Comp & Ben

Strategy & Solution

The solution for Comp & Ben

Let’s break this up into the familiar parts: Why, how, what. I’m not going to waste a lot of time writing an introduction because you’ll skip it anyway. Just wanted to note that this post won’t give you the final answer, but it will help you a whole lot if you’re willing to put in some mental work.
Continue reading

Let’s break this up into the familiar parts: Why, how, what. I’m not going to waste a lot of time writing an introduction because you’ll skip it anyway. That’s also why the picture of a lion a bit further down below is also completely irrelevant. Just had to grab attention. Just wanted to note that this post won’t give you the final answer, but it will help you a whole lot if you’re willing to put in some mental work.

👫 This post is aimed at
HR-minded people who are in charge or are very much involved with compensation & benefits.
📖 After reading
You will be able to set up a stronger and more future-proof com & ben model.


Why — the value proposition

When designing a compensation strategy, this is honestly the most important question to ask. And I don’t mean you should ask yourself “why do we need a compensation strategy?”- I mean, duh. But ask: “Why would people really want to work for us?”. In other words, what’s our employee value proposition? And not the soft-marketing kind, but really your employer strategy. There’s a simple (≠ easy) strategy exercise that looks much like the layout of this blog post that’s called “Who, what, how”. Ask your HR team to really think about these questions: Who do we want to attract? What will be our value proposition? How will we deliver on that value proposition? For example, for us at INTUO it looks very much like this: 

Who? Independent, ambitious people with a great sense of purpose that have tremendous growth potential (regardless of age)

What? More impact, ownership, and growth than elsewhere.

How? By growing faster than average companies, we’ll need them to grow fast with us and take up roles and responsibilities they wouldn’t get elsewhere. Learning by doing (and by making mistakes). That and we have an appealing mission statement.

Grooowl (if you didn't read the intro, you won't get this)

How

Once you’ve defined your employer strategy, you can now derive more or less how you want to reward them. Firstly take into account these basic principles before answering the questions below.

  • Payment is all about perceived fairness. That’s actually the only important thing. If everyone feels like they’re paid in a fair manner, nobody will leave and everybody will do their job. It is NOT about motivation or about rewarding (despite the name). It’s about fairness, and fairness alone. Take for example the story of Gravity, the company that decided to pay everyone $70.000 (the limit after which the correlation between money and happiness is not that obvious anymore). Quite soon after launching that strategy, two high-performers quit, because, even though they made more than they used to, they felt like other people around them were not entitled to the same pay they had. It felt unfair.
  • Pay according to value, not performance

  • Laszlo Bock wrote: "pay unfairly". What he meant was: pay unequally (and I don’t mean based on someone’s gender). And that’s completely true. You shouldn’t be afraid to pay people that have tremendous value for your company a whole lot more than others. Others that work with them will most likely understand and won’t even mind. Paradoxically this actually increases the perceived fairness. The only difficulty is that on average, most people think they perform better than average. Just like most drivers think they can drive better than average. So if you can double check the top-performer identification with an HR Business Partner or with a team, please do.
  • Finally, remember that paying for value is more important than paying for performance. Unless it’s a bonus, a bonus can be used as a motivator or rewarding tool, but only in the right scenarios where input and output are clearly linked (e.g. sales, top management, simple tasks...). If you pay for performance instead of value, the following happens: Marie has been working hard all year and get’s a performance score of 4 out of 5. Even though she’s one of the few that got a 4 (let alone a 5), she still feels like she’s given it all she’s got this year and gets the feeling the company doesn’t appreciate her efforts all that much. And it’s not just about the score, it’s about the fact that you expect a pay-raise instead of a job-well-done. Recognition should be done in the form of compliments, exposure, and pats-on-the-back, not in the form of a salary increase or a performance score.

Right, so here are some questions for you to answer. Do not start thinking about all the details already, just answer with one to three sentences:

  • What do we want to reward for? Hint: It should be based on value rather than performance if it's about a fixed salary.
  • How will we pay compared to external benchmarks? Will you pay at 110% of someone’s capabilities or rather at 90%. At a startup, you usually pay under the average, because you can offer an amazing learning opportunity.
  • Who do we want to give a bonus? Is it group-based or individual? Take into account that individual bonuses only work if the input is tightly connected to the output. Also, a bonus system should be strictly agreed upon beforehand. You don’t want any confusion about it.
Pay fairly first and foremost

What

Finally, let’s design your payment strategy. The idea of this exercise is to give you a framework and let you combine some elements to come to a payment-track. The combination of payment-tracks can make up your payment strategy. This is the framework. There are five decisions to make:

  • Who: Who is it for?
  • What: What will we take into account when making the decision?
  • Input: Who will deliver that input?
  • Final Say: Who will have the final say?
  • Type: What type of payment-device do we wish to hand out. Points can be used to trade in for a bigger car or maybe another training (as a way to represent the flexible income plan).

Now the only thing you have to do is write down between one and five tracks that will cover your entire rewarding strategy. Check whether they meet your strategy, the general conditions, and your earlier decisions. If not, reiterate again. You can add other things like a car-upgrade in "Type" or top-performers in "Who". Go wild on your ideas, but try to keep the end result simple. And don’t forget to mention the frequency of your adjustments.

The framework for designing compensation tracks

The Old School

You’ll pay for performance mostly, put everyone through the same system and give managers the opportunity to hide behind that same system. “I can’t help it that they made me force rank on you”. Usually, they have a bonus for top-management as well, that’s administered by HR, but set by the business.

Classical, old school payment structure

The New School

In a lot of self-steering organizations, people can choose what responsibilities to take up for the coming year and will get paid out points if they can deliver on those responsibilities. HR/CEO is the one valuing the responsibilities.

One type of self-steering compensation process

The Simple School

You give everyone a group bonus and do special stuff for the top and bottom 10%. Focus on paying fair by looking at someone’s market value, but do something out of the ordinary for the top-performers and low-performers.

The simple rewarding strategy

The Consulting School

Where everyone is paid fairly compared to market value, but some people move up the consulting ladder because they show more value. A case can be prepared with the coach every quarter and is then presented to a committee of top-managers and HR that decide over promotions. Both the coach and the committee know what to look for in a consultant to see them move to the next level. If the committee’s decision was negative, the person can still prepare a new case for next quarter, because they will receive concrete action points.

The consulting way

The Management School

This is a typical scenario where the manager gets more responsibility in deciding how to divide their pay increases. Finance first gives a budget to HR, HR then assigns that to managers and does a suggestion for pay increase (based on data they received from other managers (performance snapshots) and sometimes the team as well). The manager decides how to divide it.

Where the manager gets bigger responsibility

This article was originally published on the Medium account of Arne Van Damme

Extend the engagement of your extended workforce

Tips

Extend the engagement of your extended workforce

The extended (or contingent) workforce are the people in your company that work for you but are not actually your employees. We’re talking about interns staying only for a short period, freelancers working project-based and remotes executing their assignments without actually being present in the office. This new type of workforce also implies different relationships with these employees. For companies to stay agile regarding this changing work trend, organizations will have to find nimble ways to keep these non-traditional workers engaged!
Continue reading

The extended (or contingent) workforce are the people in your company that work for you but are not actually your employees. We’re talking about interns staying only for a short period, freelancers working project-based and remotes executing their assignments without actually being present in the office. This new type of workforce also implies different relationships with these employees. For companies to stay agile regarding this changing work trend, organizations will have to find nimble ways to keep these non-traditional workers engaged!

The concept of Employee Engagement has been around since the 1990s and is being severely challenged. It’s becoming more and more difficult, to keep one’s finger on the pulse for every employee. By now it’s considered to be a normal feature for companies to be working with remotes, temporary workers, interns and freelancers (the so-called contingent workforce). So how can you keep track of their engagement within the company, when they are not really within the company?

👫 This post is aimed at
Teamleaders who are challenged by the increasing extended workforce "phenomenon."
📖 After reading
You will have a better understanding of where to begin to deal with this challenge.


  1. Facilitate easy onboarding

    When you’re hiring new people to join your company under the form of an extended worker, a proper onboarding will be even more key than in the traditional working format. You need to find fast, effective ways to get those contingent workers up to speed with the values of the organization and overall integrate them into the right team, without losing too much time. This is exactly what Talmundo does. They offer a seamless onboarding experience for new employees, which might be just what you need when you’re working with contingent workers.

    When they join a certain team, they must stay up to date with the objectives and the mission of their team, in order to be working in the right direction. This is not possible when the objectives are communicated or set only once per year. Make these objectives agile, flexible and visible for the widespread workers. This advice really goes for all employees in general, regardless if they’re contingent.

    If you make an effort to make this onboarding as smooth as possible, the extended workforce will feel more like a part of the team from the start. This initial feeling of inclusiveness can be the foundation of an engaged worker.

  2. Download our white paper for free!

  3. Communication and managing your talent

    The extended workforce can be easily forgotten in the day to day business of an organization. They are often excluded from certain meetings or even company activities, without a clear reason. Contingent workers can easily be included in meetings via the numerous communication tools out there.

    To include them more, you can additionally provide the right collaboration tools for the contingent workers, so their absence from the office isn’t considered a roadblock anymore. Set up a portal where they are being kept in the loop of day-to-day activities and the progress on the projects, where they can access all the necessary documents and material needed. An example of such a tool is Slack, where you can easily stay in touch with your colleagues.

    When you’re introducing such a tool, the interaction points with the permanent and temporary staff will become more frequent and the engagement will rise accordingly. This is exactly what INTUO is all about. INTUO allows you to track this engagement of all the people in your company, both internal and external.

  4. Build multi-skilled supporting entities

    Being a contingent worker is often referred to as a lonely job. They are at risk of feeling unsupported and might not really be fully committed to a team or an organization. That’s why it’s important to offer them the right support.

    As an organization, you can easily assemble a team of people that carry the responsibility for supporting the extended workforce. Curate your people selection carefully, so you have a mixed team with various skills and knowledge. These people should be able to help them out with paperwork, social activities, job-related backing, and regular one-on-ones to check-in with their progress and well-being.

    They will be the go-to contacts for your extended workforce and it will be their responsibility to involve and support them in as many ways possible and monitor the engagement levels.

INTUO is a non-intruisive tool that can support you and your contingent workers in these changing work trends. Get in touch and extend the performance of your extended workforce!

Human Resources surveys tell us the creation of a great employee experience ranks as a major trend again this year. They also acknowledge that only a minority of companies have found a way of doing it well.

There are plenty of reasons why companies struggle to differentiate their employee experience, such as:

  • A failure to align that experience to their external brand promise
  • A disproportionate focus on recruitment and a neglect of the numerous touch points once they join
  • Misaligned people processes emanating from siloed centers of HR expertise

But I believe there is one obvious flaw in our thinking – we fail to see our employees as we do our customers. We try and design an employee experience – one employee experience – that can be run at scale. Whereas what we want as employees is our own experience. Designed around me, my needs, my wants, my aspirations, not a “one-size-fits-all” experience.

When we enter the workplace, personalization ends.

In our life outside work, we now expect and enjoy a level of personalization. We can edit our news apps to only get the stories we’re interested in, we produce our own radio stations through our Spotify playlists, we can pre-set our car seat to our preferred driving position. Psychology Today reports that we like the feeling that personalization gives us and a recent study at the University of Texas shows that we are more likely to engage with content tailored to our needs. And it seems to work. Some 35% of Amazon sales and 75% of Netflix views come from customised recommendations.

Yet when we enter the workplace, that personalization ends.

Employment contracts, induction programs, performance and talent management, leadership competency models, training programs, reward frameworks - standardized, universally applied, one-size-fits-all. While this approach suits the organization because it’s cheaper to implement and easier to monitor, we are kidding ourselves that it creates a great employee experience. A truly positive employee experience is one where I feel special and appreciated for my individual contribution and talents, not simply a cog in a machine.

Lucy Adams, CEO at Disruptive HR & Ex-HR Director at the BBC

At Disruptive HR we asked over 450 HR professionals about how they deliver induction, performance, reward etc. to see whether they provide a customised or one-size-fits-all approach. (You can check out how you fare here). Over 70% of the responses stated the latter, suggesting that the vast majority of us have a long way to go if we are to offer an enhanced employee experience.

So what could a consumer approach look like for employees?

Here are some examples of how companies are trying to create, not just AN employee experience – but MY employee experience.

Using Consumer Marketing techniques at Virgin Trains (UK)

Virgin Trains asked their market research department how they would go about assessing and segmenting their 3,500 employees. Instead of taking the traditional approach, they looked at aspects such as social media preferences, traditional media consumption, learning biases, and so on. Called the “Amazing Colleague Experience”, and it went far deeper than any employee engagement survey. All of the rich data was then used to inform the creation of meaningful, employee-driven initiatives.

Onboarding Individuals at Wipro

Many companies still see the induction or onboarding period as a process to put people through. It typically involves a vanilla offering of a week of PowerPoint slides crammed with bullet points from all the departments who have managed to crowbar their way onto it. It’s about conformity, it’s about telling them what we want them to know. The smarter companies see it differently and use it as a time to learn about the new hires and find out how they can best be welcomed and deployed. Wipro uses the onboarding process to find out more about the new employee’s unique perspectives and strengths leading to 33% greater retention in the first six months.

Personalised Rewards

The annual, bureaucratic, net-after-tax bonus never inspires as much joy as that hand-written card or the thoughtful and personalized gift. Lots of companies are beginning to stretch their imaginations when it comes to the role of reward in creating the employee experience. Whether it’s having employees reward their peers for being supportive and fostering collaboration like at NextJump. Or it could be giving thoughtful gifts to employees on their birthdays like at German social gaming firm Wooga. Or, perhaps, rewarding the team through off-site activities that they share like at GoDaddy. The future of rewards is all about the personal, the timely, the unexpected.

Tailoring talent management at Starbucks

The HR analytics team at Starbucks decided to take a marketing approach to uncover what attracted, retained and motivated employees. They found three clusters: “skiers,” who work mainly to support other passions; “artists,” who desire a community-oriented and socially responsible employer; and “careerists,” who want long-term career advancement. The clusters helped managers’ better tailor programs to multiple sets of employee needs.


Creating a great employee experience starts with seeing your employees as consumers, not applying uniform processes, no matter how “best in class” they are.

Once every two weeks

Receive quality updates in your mailbox! 📨

Do you wear your job as a fancy dress, or as comfy sweatpants?

Strategy & Solution

Do you wear your job as a fancy dress, or as comfy sweatpants?

All the ladies out there (don’t worry this is not a gender-biased post, all the gentlemen could probably relate to it in one way or another), have you ever bought that dress you’d been longing for months which made you feel so gorgeous and elegant that you proudly called it your favorite dress? Don’t tell me you’ve never had such moments. I refuse to believe it.
Continue reading

All the ladies out there (don’t worry this is not a gender-biased post, all the gentlemen could probably relate to it in one way or another), have you ever bought that dress you’d been longing for months which made you feel so gorgeous and elegant that you proudly called it your favorite dress? Don’t tell me you’ve never had such moments. I refuse to believe it.

But the question is, is it still your favorite piece of clothing today? Does it still give you the same kind of warm fuzzy feeling when you put it on and look at yourself in the mirror?

Well, I wouldn’t possibly know everyone’s answer.

But, The same dress that gave me the I-am-the-most-pretty-girl-in-the-world feeling a year ago sits quietly in my wardrobe now, waiting to be overlooked at least once a month. It no longer satisfies my innate craving for feeling good, so I always want another dress, then another dress… However, I do have my favorite pair of sweatpants that I’ve owned for five years, and I just cannot get enough of the comfort and feeling of home it gives me. So now -this might be a longshot- let’s bring this analogy to our jobs and talk about the level of happiness your job can offer you.

When you achieve the monthly goals you set for yourself, when you successfully hit the sales target, or when you finally launch the mobile application that you’ve been developing for months, you feel the sense of accomplishment and are filled with joy. All of your friends and relatives who notice this would think that your job makes you feel so good. However, it is actually not your job that is making you happy, but it's you who is doing a good job.

It's about you, not the job.

Just like how that dress looks very elegant and gorgeous on its own, you call it your favorite dress because of the way it feels when you're in it.

Shopping for the best possible jobs around.

Back to your job. Come one week later, that happiness starts to fade away again because you will have to focus on new projects or tasks, and of course repeat the cycle of short-term happiness all over again. The truth is, you can experience the same level of happiness by accomplishing a task in almost every other company, so what is the reason that makes you stay with a particular organization?

At the end of the day, the comfy sweatpants always win it from the fancy dress.

Everyone needs that pair of comfy pants; everyone needs a job in which they feel comfortable. Some of your friends might look good wearing the job they are wearing, but do they actually love wearing it? Some do, some don't.

If you are a CEO or a manager of a company, of course, you want your employees to have those short-term periods of happiness because of a job-well-done. But it's far more important to make sure your wardrobe is well-equipped with super comfortable pieces that add to your work environment. Because in that work environment, employees will find it easier to do a good job. And once they find something that fits them perfectly, they will not need to shop around as much. Nobody throws away their pair of perfectly comfy sweatpants.

But enough with the play on words.


  1. Give them the recognition they deserve

    Giving your people praises and recognition for their efforts makes them not only feel good about themselves but also about their organization as a whole. People feel appreciated, are motivated to do great work, and as a result, the company benefits from it. A healthy cycle of high-quality work and motivation contributes to the overall engagement.

  2. Autonomy is key

    A lot of people thrive when they are given the freedom to do things their own way. Letting them enjoy the whole process and giving them autonomy encourages their creativity and motivation to bring you better quality work.

  3. Instill in them a sense of purpose

    People get excited when they realize they are contributing to something bigger and greater. If they can see themselves achieving something in your company, they will be fueled with excitement and motivation to deliver a lot more.

Want to bring the ultimate employee experience to your team and make them feel good about the job they are having now? Let us know, we can be of great help!

Praise Culture: soft trend or a real thing?

INTUO

Praise Culture: soft trend or a real thing?

In the world of work today, more and more companies are trying to cultivate the culture of praise and recognition, where employees give one another praises openly for their achievements and capabilities. In fact, many are jumping into adopting this fancy culture, hoping to motivate and engage their employees in ways they never could.
Continue reading

In the world of work today, more and more companies are trying to cultivate the culture of praise and recognition, where employees give one another praises openly for their achievements and capabilities. In fact, many are jumping into adopting this fancy culture, hoping to motivate and engage their employees in ways they never could.

Some companies started a praise round during weekly meetings or set up a praise wall in the company cozy corner where everyone can write down praise to others on post-its. Don’t get me wrong; I am not targeting at any particular companies.

But the question is, are you doing it the right way? Is the “praise culture” you are trying to create beneficial to your organization?

Let me walk you through some scenarios:

During the weekly company meeting, there is a default praise round where everyone has to give praise to someone. As the ball is being passed down, someone thanks a team member for offering help; someone compliments the marketing team for the excellent campaign carried out. However, behind the scenes, some went through the list of people they interacted with in the past week and chose the one relatively more praiseworthy; some repeated the praise others gave because it’s just so hard to come up with a name.

Everything seems harmonious, and as a manager, you are happy with the ‘praise culture’ you’ve cultivated in your company. What you fail to realize is how your people actually feel about this culture. Are they pressurized and forced to praise someone because they have to? Do they put much thought into the praise they offer? What’s the result of it?

More is less

Many people start to receive praises for simply performing their jobs for the sake of fulfilling the praise quota. The more they receive, the more they desire. They start to expect praises for doing their jobs and inevitably get disappointed when they suddenly don’t receive praises anymore. The original intention of praise backfires – the supposed motivation becomes the demotivating factor because other people received praises for performing their jobs, why didn’t I?

Result-driven praise culture

Who are the ones likely to receive more praises from your company, the sales people or the backend developers? While the team members that produce more visible and recognizable accomplishments receive more praises, those working on the backend are still doing their jobs diligently. For example, a salesman is likely to receive more praises than the developer for closing a large-sized deal, of course with the product the developer developed. Over time a result-driven praise culture is created, people focus on the revenue-generating activities to give praise to, and those diligently safeguarding the backyard do not get the recognition they deserve.

Wait a minute, so now you are saying praise culture is just a soft trend that is not practical in companies?

No, absolutely not.

If it is just a soft trend, why are so many companies doing it, and doing an excellent job? Successful companies such as Intel is well-known for its "Great Place to Work" recognition program, and West Monroe Partners for its “people first” vision.

Building a praise culture is not the real thing, knowing how to successfully build a healthy praise culture is.

Desiring praise is not necessarily a bad thing because essentially it motivates people. According to psychological studies, people choose their behavior based on their perceived outcome. Knowing that they will be praised motivates them not only to perform their jobs but to perform them well enough to earn praise. A culture of praise leverages on the positive psychology, where people desire to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives and to bring out the best of themselves.

Everyone loves compliments because they make us feel good about ourselves. Giving praise develops a positive self-concept in employees and leads to better performance because it meets employees’ needs for esteem and self-actualization, growth, and achievement, which is what monetary compensations cannot achieve. What’s important is to make people continuously feel good staying in the praise culture.

When is the praise culture actually working?

Let the ball roll on its own

Instead of passing down the ‘praise ball’ one by one during the praise round, let it roll on its own. When praising someone becomes voluntary, people don’t feel pressured to come up with a name. Instead, they will go through their week more carefully and sincerely and offer the most genuine praise if they choose to bring up one.

Also, different people have different comfort levels with praising others. Some might be too shy to voice out; some might think to praise their bosses in public sounds more like pleasing them. Hence, it is important for companies to grant their people the freedom to choose whom the praises are visible to in their internal communication channels.

Praise the praiseworthy

Performing a job well might not be praiseworthy; performing a job excellently definitely is. There is a fine line to be defined between the well-done and the praiseworthy events. For example, the marketing department sets the target to generate 300 inbound leads per month – hitting the target is a job well done, but receiving 400 leads is praiseworthy. Therefore, it is the managers’ and team leaders’ responsibility to set examples when giving praises – focus on the praiseworthy events, give confirmations to the jobs well done, while giving praises to the excellent jobs.

Be progress-driven, not result-driven

Not all activities directly generate revenue or increase brand awareness directly. All members of the organization contribute their parts to the daily operations. Those tech guys and the accountants deserve just as much recognition as the marketing and sales team. You need not give praise to the developer for fixing a bug, but recognition is definitely required if the bug does not re-occur for three months. Managers always have to consciously ensure praise is given fairly to each department so that it will never become the demoralizing factor but the complete opposite.

Conclusion

It is about focusing more on individuals’ progress and developments rather than the tangible achievements. If you pay attention to your employees’ personal improvements in their work and give them enough credits, they will surely be motivated and produce remarkable accomplishments in time to come. One important point to note is that praises have to be as specific as possible so that the employee will not only know he did a great job but also why it was great. Being specific does not only show that managers genuinely care about the employee’s work, but also helps the employee to be more aware of his own behaviours, leading to his progressive growth.

Praise-giving is not just a culture; it is a skill to be learned by everyone in the organization. Managers should learn and lead the team to give effective praises. Yes, it would backfire if praises were given ineffectively, insufficiently or excessively. However, through trial and error, you will be able to find the praising moments in your organizational context.

Yes, your butt looks big in those jeans

Strategy & Solution

Yes, your butt looks big in those jeans

For those of you out there fortunate enough to have been in a committed relationship for a while, you’ve either had or asked your better half for some feedback. The rest of us have undoubtedly seen this situation unfold through friends or television shows. You’re good to go, all dressed up and suddenly there it is: “Honey, do these jeans make my butt look big?”
Continue reading

For those of you out there fortunate enough to have been in a committed relationship for a while, you’ve either had or asked your better half for some feedback. The rest of us have undoubtedly seen this situation unfold through friends or television shows. You’re good to go, all dressed up and suddenly there it is: “Honey, do these jeans make my butt look big?”

What happens next is usually comparable to what happens when a waiter presents you your wine at a restaurant. They do their little wine dance and ask who’s going to evaluate this exquisite drink of the gods. I’ve happily taken part in this charade, put on my most grown-up looking face and tasted like there was no tomorrow to reply with what was set in stone before our little wine-tasting-tango: Yes, it’s the best wine in the universe.

When faced with this fashion evaluation, most men go into the same kind of autopilot, stick to protocol and preserve the potential for a good night. You can never be sure with women, or at least I can never be sure, but generally accepted answers in this scenario are: “No”, “No, you look beautiful” or “Of course not!”. I assume women are mostly fishing for a little compliment, and if you have the opportunity to make a woman a little bit happier you should jump at the chance to do so.

But, and it’s a big but, what if her butt did look bigger?

Ray Dalio is not most men. Despite mister Dalio’s (very) impressive resumé, I had never heard of him until my colleague Arne gave me a brief introduction to his out of the ordinary way of managing and perspective on how to run a successful business/life. Not your average run of the mill person to say the least. He’s the founder of one of the world’s largest investment firms (Bridgewater Associates), and has been named in numerous “most influential”-lists. He credits a large part of his success to his management policy, which lead me to write this piece.

Described by the man himself as “the secret sauce” to success, he uses radical transparency and radical truth to create an idea meritocracy. An idea is evaluated based on its merit, a merit that has to be earned and will be tested through rigorous discussion and disagreements. Independent thinkers are encouraged to disagree, and it’s this thoughtful disagreement that leads to the power of understanding. This allows for the best ideas to surface. Now, this all sounds good but how does this translate to the floor?

Bridgewater’s company culture is controversial: All meetings and conversations get recorded and can be reviewed internally by everyone. Employees are assessed during and after interactions, and group assessments of everyone are visible. People are given ratings and are analyzed using algorithms to learn the why and the how of people’s perspective. Individual strengths and weaknesses are identified and teams are put together based on the best possible collaboration. This kind of workplace harnesses the power of group decision-making, which only lets the best solutions and approaches prevail.

At a recent TED-talk we were pulled behind the curtain by Dalio, who shared an email he received from an employee after a meeting to showcase his radical transparency policy.

Director of portfolio strategy Jim Haskel doesn’t mince his words in this post-meeting email, but instead, he speaks his mind and doesn’t filter. Now, this email truly turns into something valuably because of what’s said after the feedback. The gray part focuses on improvement and possible ways to prevent this from happening again in the future and opens the door for a dialogue.

In an idea meritocracy, the best idea(s) is what matters. So how do they judge an idea’s merit? An internal feedback tool, called “the Dot Collector”, helps assess the workforce. Feedback is given based on certain attributes, and get a rating on a 1-10 scale. An algorithm behind this tool then collects the data around a person.

And this is where it really gets interesting. Decisions are not made through a simple majority. Depending on the matter at hand certain attributes are considered more important than others. For instance, a filter for “believability” is added. The tool allows to see which people have high scores on attributes such as high-level thinking or common sense, and points them out as the most-believable employees. Their opinions are weighted higher than others, and if the minority consists out of a lot of this kind of employees their answer can still win out.

Or in Dalio’s words:

This process allows us to make decisions not based on democracy, not based on autocracy but based on algorithms that take people’s believability into consideration.

At INTUO we encourage a feedback culture, as long as it’s constructive and focuses on personal development which as a result betters the company. Meaningful work and meaningful relationships, through radical truth and radical transparency sounds great and Bridgewater’s reaping the benefits as we speak. However, I’m not sure how I would feel in this kind of culture, and Dalio himself has admitted not everyone makes it through the initial 18 months, the time it takes to get used to this company culture.

On a 1-10 scale, with 1 being no transparency and 10 being full disclosure I’d rate Bridgewater a solid 9,99. Getting back to our main question, Dalio did mention that this policy pertains to the important stuff. In his words: “You don’t have to tell someone their baby is ugly, or that their bald spot is growing.” In my opinion, Dalio’s household would become jeans-free and a more flattering dress would be going on Ray’s date. Because isn’t that better in the long run?

Either way, it’s obvious that being a 1 on our scale isn’t helping anyone. That doesn’t mean we should all strive towards being a 10. No two companies are the same and I firmly believe each of them has a unique sweet spot. Identifying that sweet spot might require some help, and we’d love to help get you there.

Any ideas, pointers or feedback? Let’s try this whole radical transparency thing on for size, get in touch and don’t pull any punches!

(Oh, and it’s blatantly clear that when it comes to women I’m completely clueless and that they remain the world’s greatest mystery. Any assumptions that were made are just that, assumptions. Feel free to provide me with some new insights!)

Update!

The ROI of engaged VS non-engaged teams: A case study

Client Stories

The ROI of engaged VS non-engaged teams: A case study

Every two to four years Gallup conducts a research that pools multiple studies - aka “The Mother of All Research” ; ). This assessment confirmed the well-established connection between employee engagement and performance outcome*. We recently celebrated the one-year customer anniversary (“Intuoversary” - patent pending) with one of our clients. As a gift, they shared their analysis of their team engagement in comparison with team target effectiveness with us.
Continue reading

Every two to four years Gallup conducts a research that pools multiple studies - aka “The Mother of All Research”. This assessment confirmed the well-established connection between employee engagement and performance outcome*. We recently celebrated the one-year customer anniversary (“Intuoversary” - patent pending) with one of our clients. As a gift, they shared their analysis of their team engagement in comparison with team target effectiveness with us.

The Use Case

Alright, let’s not keep you on the edge of your seat! Ready? Here we go:

Meet one of our many sweet customers - we’ll call them Company Awesome for the sake of this use case. Company Awesome is a digital agency, founded in 2013, with a turnover of €3.6 million, an annual employee growth rate of 219% and it currently employs 53 awesome (obviously!) individuals. Company Awesome consists out of 11 teams, of which 9 have clear billable targets. The engagement data (in the infographic below) of these 9 teams allows us to have a representative look into the impact of the team engagement levels on performance, and whether these teams manage to hit their targets.

The engagement levels of the teams of Company Awesome were established through INTUO’s engagement tool, in which the tool pulses 5 anonymous engagement questions to all employees.

The results

The infographic clearly indicates that all billables are on average 90% linked with employee engagement. One the one hand, when the team’s engagement is over 70%, it is likely to exceed its target by 4%. On the other hand, once the engagement levels drop under 70%, the risk of not hitting its targets increases. These results are no coincidence, and it was apparent to the management team of Company Awesome that focussing on increasing team engagement had to be an absolute priority.

The actions taken

Our engagement data did not only help them in analyzing their performance levels, but also allowed Company Awesome to assess the situation and make decisions based on low/high engagement levels. In the case of some of the low engaged teams, they were able to identify leadership as a main source of disengagement, and took relevant measures of coaching managers or even changing leadership.

How engagement can make or break your growth (or even a company)

Before you start thinking “Oh well, I’m in carpenting. I am no digital agency”. The effects of engagement are not industry-biased. It is found that the strong correlations between engagement and performance are highly consistent across different organizations from diverse industries and regions of the world.

As aforementioned, Gallup found that - besides hitting targets - there are a total of nine performance outcomes that are affected by good or bad employee engagement levels.

  • Customer ratings
  • Profitability
  • Productivity
  • Turnover (for high turnover and low turnover organizations)
  • Safety Incidents
  • Shrinkage (theft)
  • Absenteeism
  • Patient safety incidents
  • Quality (defects)

The disparity between the top and bottom quartile in employee engagement is fascinating, as top outperform bottom quartile work units with 22% in profitability, and 10% on customer ratings. The top quartile work units have lower safety incidents (48%), quality defects (41%), absenteeism (37%) and employee turnover.

I believe the research and our case study speak for itself. Employee engagement has a great impact on any business, in any industry - ignoring it is no longer an option in these rapidly changing markets. Measuring team engagement, and taking the appropriate actions are crucial steps in growing any company. It’s quite simple really: Be passionate about maximizing your company’s engagement and you’ll reap the benefits on so many levels. Happy employees sell better, give better customer support, care more about the company values. Happy employees don’t want to go looking for another job, and want to help their colleagues succeed.

Retention in professional staffing

Strategy & Solution

Retention in professional staffing

It’s a common trend in the professional staffing business. After spending a lot of energy in hiring and training consultants, they decide to quit after one, two or (if you’re lucky) three years because they feel less engaged and less connected to your firm on the way. Sounds familiar? Read on to find out how you can boost those engagement levels!
Continue reading

It’s a common trend in the professional staffing business. After spending a lot of energy in hiring and training consultants, they decide to quit after one, two or (if you’re lucky) three years because they feel less engaged and less connected to your firm on the way. Sounds familiar? Read on to find out how you can boost those engagement levels!

The crowded talent fishing pool

Losing employees at a high rate is extremely costly, especially since recruiting them is a challenge. Nowadays, clients require people with specific skill sets, which means that you often find yourself fishing in the same talent pool as all your competitors. But fishing is a time-consuming activity, and you want to focus more on servicing your clients, matching interesting projects to your consultants, and helping them reach their personal goals (assuming you’re juggling these four balls simultaneously).

This last factor is crucial. More and more people want to be regularly coached on their strengths and weaknesses, and look for a company that supports them in reaching their personal goals. Think about your Employee Value Proposition (EVP): why does a consultant want to work for you, instead of working for one of your clients directly? It’s less and less about compensation, and more and more about investing in their personal development. They chose your staffing company because you offer specialized trainings. They chose you because you have a kick-ass client portfolio. They chose you, because they want the flexibility to work on temporary projects in which they can apply their expertise.

Because of these reasons, coaching is so important. And I don’t mean the “Oh hey, it’s time for our mid-year follow-up meeting again”-type of coaching. I mean the type of coaching in which you sit together more regularly and have a short but high-quality conversation about somebody’s personal development goals. By offering your ear and taking actions on the spot, you make consultants more connected and engaged to your company.

In a study conducted by Consultancy.nl and Berenschot, the lack of Career Development Opportunities was picked by most consultants as their main motivation for leaving. (Source: “Consulting HR Market Report 2013”)

Most account managers are handling an increasing amount of consultants. The challenge? Coach more without cutting time on recruiting and business development activities. The trick? Digitalization. Make smart technology work for you!

Thank God for Tech!

INTUO's tool helps managers with their time management and consultants in reaching their development goals:

  1. Personalized growth paths, and increasing the quality of the conversation
  2. Offering a continuous learning environment
  3. Keeping track of engagement levels at all times

INTUO supports a stronger, and more dynamic company culture, in which people can thrive. Just see how it played out at Planet Talent. With our tool, we help you in creating an even stronger EVP, and beat the competition with an engaged and trained army of consultants that adapts more quickly to the market. Immediate results, which will blow your retention rates through the roof!

Interested in how we would work for your company? Let’s connect!

Hello, I’m Ziyao, a Singapore Management University student. I'm 22, and always like to explore.


It was an impulsive decision to take on this internship. Being an Asian, having an internship in a European country is something out of my comfort zone. I had little to expect before I came to Ghent, other than those ridiculous assumptions I made about them speaking Dutch all the time and not being able to understand my Singapore accent.

How did it turn out?

It is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life!

(If not I wouldn’t be spending my time writing this whole experience right)

I am not exactly the most outgoing person and warm-up time can get annoyingly long sometimes, but these Belgians (and one Dutch guy) at INTUO welcomed me with their warmest smiles and most energetic fist bumps. It made adjusting to a completely new environment a lot easier.

Living in a foreign country is never easy, especially for a girl known for her power to destroy things. I’ve encountered so many problems in the short span of 3 months as if it would win me an Olympic medal – laptop breakdown, phone screen cracked, getting chased out of my rented apartment, falling from my bike because the wheels were stuck in the tram rail… But my INTUO colleagues patiently helped me with every single one of my problems, of course after they laughed hard at the ridiculous incidents I got myself into each day, evidently from the nickname I’ve gotten – Princess Zizi.

When I realized that I am using Sander’s (the awesome awesome marketing guy) bicycle, cooking with the pans Florence and Orphe (my guuurlfriendz) brought all the way from their homes in Lokeren and Brussels, the idea of family emerged in my mind. It surprised me. Okay let’s not get too sentimental before we even talk about the internship itself alright!

It is never about simply having fun; it is about having fun doing the work you enjoy doing. As a talent management platform that aims to make employees happy and engaged at work, INTUO practices what it preaches.

Using the platform, I set my own objectives that I wish to accomplish in three months. I am free to voice out my opinions on the current practices and come up with the new initiatives of which I can take full ownership. It was really heartwarming when Jorn (my lovely CMO) encouraged me to write my first blog post and publish it on the company's website after my first week, when he pushed me to finish the campaign I am heading so that I can see the fruits of my labour before I complete my internship.

Every Friday the Marketing team will have our marketing sprint, during which we share with the team our accomplishments during the week and set tasks for the following week. Weekly company meeting is what I enjoy the most every week. Each team will share their progress, achievements, and challenges. We celebrate every success, big or small, and are genuinely happy for others. We give praises to someone who helped, guided or inspired us during the week, and end off the short and sweet meeting with a 'cheers' (of course with the famous Belgian beer) to the weekend.

It might be this Asian girl having eyes that spot beauty in everything, but I choose to believe it is the beautiful people that made her heart so full. It is not that intern-as-a-free-labour or just-be-the-coffee-girl kind of internship; it is one that nurtures and challenges me to always thrive for the better.

Internships are always small chapters of our lives. As I am heading back to my hectic Singaporean university student life, I am really grateful to be bringing along with me all the memories made in this beautiful city of Belgium -- challenging and being challenged, learning something new every day, taking full ownership of whatever I do, and most importantly, meeting really really awesome people (one of which is visiting me in Singapore next year! How cool is that!)

It has been a beautiful encounter, with my less-known self, and of course, with INTUO.

Why talent management is not for you

INTUO

Why talent management is not for you

The hottest term in the HR world, must be this one: talent management. Type it into every possible search engine and you’ll find all kinds of definitions, tools and strategies. All HR departments are very much aware of it, but it made me wonder: does everyone also fully grasp of what it actually entails?
Continue reading

The hottest term in the HR world, must be this one: talent management. Type it into every possible search engine and you’ll find all kinds of definitions, tools and strategies. All HR departments are very much aware of it, but it made me wonder: does everyone also fully grasp of what it actually entails?

Let me start off by dissecting the concept. You are considered to be ‘talent’, when the organization you work for, decides you’re a match with the company culture and you have the right competencies to perform well. Consecutively, it’s up to the team leader to ‘manage’ you properly and to make sure you continue to excel at his or her job and (at the very least) meet the initial expectations. So there you go. Talent management, in its most rudimentary linguistic breakdown.

Even though it might seem clear what talent management is, I would very much like to clarify what talent management is not:

  1. Talent management is not about desperately holding on to your employees.

    Organizations have a natural tendency to domesticate people. New employees are trained to do their work in a certain manner and are very easily steered in the direction of the internal status quo (e.g. a specific format to have meetings, tone of voice to customers,..). To some extend, this makes sense. In every company everywhere, there will always be best practices that serve as a guidance for employees.

    Yet, an extreme version of this narrow-minded incentivization of compliance with certain habitual practices, will not motivate your employees to stretch beyond their own capabilities. In the end, I believe it will even make your talent untalented. Employees who get stuck in their roles and the same set of skills, will at some point in time lose certain parts of their motivation, which will just push away your most valued employees.

    Talent management does not mean keeping your talent exactly where they are, not even if they are good at what they are currently doing. It’s about providing your people with the right challenges and the right amount of space to experiment and to explore and expand their talent. The goal of talent management to is is to help the employees you have get ready for the next step, even if that next step is not within your company.

    So if you want to retain your employees, just for the sake of retaining them, talent management is not for you.

  2. Talent management is not just about managing your top talent

    The description of the concept at the beginning of this post I gave you, is quite misleading. The assumption for every hire you make as a company, is that the person is indeed talented for the job he/she is supposed to do.

    I don’t have to tell you that reality can be different at times. Mis-hires happen. A person turns out to lack certain skills he/she claimed to have during interviews, the culture fit was wrongly assumed, or the person him or herself had different expectations of the job or the company. Due to this fact, certain people leave (or have to leave) the company, while others stay doing a ‘good enough’ job and end up being the ‘low performers’ in the organization.

    If you follow the initial definition of talent management, low performers should per definition be ignored, since they are not considered as ‘talent’ anymore. Yet I consider those low performers, as the people who just might need that little extra push or attention to get them to the next level. If you make the effort to invest a little extra time in them, they might even end up being more valuable than they’ve shown so far.

    If you feel that talent management is just about focussing on the top performers in your company and only keeping them engaged, talent management is not for you.

  3. Talent management is more than implementing a software

    As stated before, if you look up ‘talent management’, you will very quickly bump into talent management software as well.

    From what I've picked up from people in our head space, it's a recurring assumption of many companies that talent management revolves around implementing the right tool and that this will do the trick. I can tell from my own experience that companies often invest a lot of time (and money) in new tools and stop there. And it literally stops there, because this approach turns out to fail.

    Often it’s forgotten that before you implement a tool, a mind-set needs to be implemented first. If you force terms like 'feedback' and 'agile goal setting' onto your employees, you’re setting the tool (and frankly your team) up for failure. People need to see value in giving (and receiving) feedback. First give people to know-how of setting objectives and teach them need the right skills to do so. Once you’ve established this, a talent management tool is ideal in supporting your organization.

    So if you believe that talent management can be covered just by purchasing talent management software, then talent management is not for you.

However, if talent management does seem something for you, or you have your own idea what talent management is (not), get in touch!

Once every two weeks

Receive quality updates in your mailbox! 📨