Culture and engagement at Dropsolid

Client Stories

Culture and engagement at Dropsolid

Having an attractive culture is one thing. Preserving it during upscale phases is a challenge on its own. Every new hire requires another piece of your attention span and spending time with everyone becomes near impossible. With INTUO, Dropsolid boldly shouts: "Challenge accepted!"
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Having an attractive culture is one thing. Well, it's one BIG thing of course. But preserving it during upscale phases is a challenge on its own. Sooner or later, your tight group of people from the early days will grow and split up into teams. Every new hire requires another piece of your attention span and spending time with each and every one of them becomes near impossible. With INTUO, Dropsolid boldly shouts: "Challenge accepted!"

About Dropsolid

Dropsolid is a fast-growing digital business company that helps other businesses grow by assisting them in their digital transformation. They provide services and web solutions based on the Drupal open-source technology. Both big and SME/smaller companies are welcome organizations. Era, Synergie, Bellewaerde and Boerenbond are just a couple of their customers.

Steven and Dominique De Cooman started Dropsolid back in March of 2013 and have been able to expand their team to 55 full-time employees in just under four years. Their investments in their own brand and people have resulted in a popular approach and added value in services, according to their clients.

Staying up to date with all of their people was a must for Steven and Dominique. It was manageable up to 20-25 employees. After that, they felt the need for some help in that area. Their five core values - Trust, Help, Challenge, Grow and Enjoy - are essential for their culture. INTUO is their help to preserve and distribute these values. Measuring Dropsolid's happiness is now possible and, according to Steven, unmissable.

Q&A

What are you able to do with INTUO that you couldn’t do before?

Steven: Stay aware of how the team feels.

Who is working with INTUO and how are they experiencing it?

Steven: They all do! They think it’s meaningful, the check-ins allow them to talk freely to their manager. The praises are fun and easy to distribute good things that happen in the company. The managers have a good overview of their team, conflicts or disagreements quickly surface and are quickly addressed.

How does it benefit the organization internally?

Steven: We can measure how our company feels! With figures and stats! Wow ;) I often talk to other company owners and ask them “Do you measure your company’s happiness?” Most of the time I hear ”No, that’s not possible” or “Yeah, we talk over lunch to our employees”, that’s when I tell them that they should talk to the guys from Intuo!

How does it benefit the organization strategically?

Steven: It’s a scalable model. If we would open extra offices, we have this metric locked and consultable at any location.

In what way does INTUO stand out from its competitors?

Steven: It’s a good thing that they are very accessible, always up for input to improve their software and a company that shares the same spirit of our company.

How do you see the future for your organization now INTUO is a part of it?

Steven: Rainbows and unicorns :) This is a tool that has become part of our daily operations and proves it value every day. The day we would switch it off, we’d notice a difference immediately.

Movie transcript

Steven:

My name’s Steven Pepermans; I’m Co-founder and COO of Dropsolid.

At Dropsolid we help other businesses grow by taking care of their digital transformation.

We always do this with the mindset of supporting them with our expertise and experience. We don't just provide them with solutions they ask us. We always think with them about the best solution for their business.

One of the challenges that comes with a steep growth path like ours is: How do we get to stay in touch with all of our employees? How do we keep track of how they feel… about their job, about their colleagues, their team, their company… Everything.

If you can't find a way to maintain the core values, who's to say that you will be able to stay successful? People might no longer take the initiative to innovate, and to learn new stuff, support each other, and enjoy themselves... Take away your culture and your engagement simply disappears.

So we made one very important resolution: We would not allow ourselves to become a company people don't like to work for.

And with INTUO, it suddenly became very easy to say: "Challenge accepted."

We now have a great overview on our company's happiness. If we see a drop in a certain area, we can act on it almost immediately.

The most important thing of course: Our people get it. They understand what it means to keep the culture alive and even more so: How to contribute to it.

It makes them think more actively of how they experience work.

INTUO is the best way for them to let us know how we can make it better.

Switch it off, and we would notice the difference immediately.

In an ideal world, we can all thrive at work. There would be no work-life balance. Only a meaningful and sustainable work-life integration. However, today’s working environment portrays a different reality.

How engaged are we?

When we look at research on employee engagement, the numbers are startling:

  • Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2015: According to this study, 87% of business and HR leaders rank employee engagement as a top strategic challenge. The strong emphasis on engagement even makes it the number one human capital trend around the world.
  • Gallup State of the Global Workplace: Based on Gallup’s research, 63% of the entire workforce is not engaged. Another 24% is ‘actively disengaged.' Only a mere 13% of the global workforce is engaged, Gallup researchers state.

Who cares about engagement?

On the one hand, engagement appears to be a strategic priority. On the other hand, the global workforce does not seem very engaged. Is this an actual problem?

Empirical studies argue it is. Two decades of research convincingly demonstrates the positive effects engagement might have. On the individual level, and the company as a whole. That is, high employee engagement is related to more creativity, better performance, and higher retention. For a suggested reading list on the empirical findings, I refer to this SlideShare deck.

In a nutshell:

  • engagement is a strategic priority
  • the workforce is not very engaged
  • engagement can have positive effects on the employee and the organization.

So, one might argue that nourishing engagement can be a lever to sustainable competitiveness.

What do we actually mean by 'engagement'?

The concept of engagement has been defined in a variety of ways. This should come as no surprise, given the attention that engagement receives both from scholars and practitioners. A potential downside of defining one word in multiple ways is that you and I might no longer be talking about the same thing. From an organizational perspective, this reality could blur the strategic focus.

Hence, the first challenge is to reach consensus on what we actually mean when talking about engagement.

One way to define engagement—and I’m not saying this is the holy truth—is based on three pillars: vigor, dedication, and absorption. From that perspective, engagement is a motivational state of well-being characterized by:

  1. Vigor = To feel high levels of energy when working.
  2. It's about a person’s feelings that they have physical durability, emotional vitality, and cognitive liveliness, they can use to pursue an assignment or task.

    Sometimes, after a vitalizing meeting with colleagues, I feel energy rushing through my entire body and mind. I can’t wait to get working on the next challenge.

    When we experience vigor, we feel energized and ready to go.

  3. Dedication = Committed to and feeling proud about your work.
  4. Have you ever talked to a stranger about your work in a highly complex and way too detailed fashion, seeing them yawn after a while? I have. Plenty. That’s because we are proud of our work, and want to share the things we do. Being dedicated means that you identify with your work.

  5. Absorption = To forget time while immersed at work.
  6. When I was young, I liked building sand castles at the beach. One time, without realizing it, the sand castle got completely destroyed by the ocean’s tide. Because the sand castle was my sole focus, I forgot about the surroundings and the fact that time inevitably brought along a flood.

OK, so now we know that engagement can be described based on three pillars. How could the organization, and its managers, in particular, facilitate engagement?

Tap into the ABC of your employee!

ABC refers to three psychological needs derived from self-determination theory. According to this theory, every human being seeks to satisfy three needs. Working in an environment that meets these needs, enables us to feel engaged and thrive.

  • Autonomy. To have degrees of freedom over your work. To act (in)dependent, and experience ownership of your behavior.
  • Belongingness. To a meaningful group that positively shapes your self-definition. To realize that what you do contributes to a larger entity. Seeking belongingness refers to the desire to experience a connection with others.
  • Competence. To develop and deploy your knowledge and skills. To be recognized for the path you chose and the results that were delivered.

As a manager, tapping into the ABC of your employee can be a powerful lever to increase engagement. Satisfying these three basic psychological needs enables us to feel engaged and thrive at work.

A hands-on toolkit for managers

To illustrate, I provide a brief hands-on toolkit for managers to nourish engagement.

  • Ask your employee: “What can I do to fully support your autonomy?” Posing this question puts you in a servant position. It encourages your employee to shape her or his ideal working environment.
  • Connect with your team and inquire: “What could we do to further develop our team identity and purpose?” For team members to connect and relate to each other, a common purpose is a great starting point. Employees can then identify with the team mission, and care for each other in realizing the mission.
  • Recognize your employees’ performance. Both what they did, and how they did it. Recognition can appear in a variety of ways. They can be financial or non-financial. Further, you can recognize on an individual level or the team level. So, create a 2x2 matrix (financial, non-financial; individual, team) and discuss with your team members how you can enable their development and recognize them accordingly.

In sum,

  • Engagement is a strategic priority.

  • You can nourish engagement through ABC.

  • How? Ask, inquire, recognize.

That leads me to my final question:

What can you do today to nourish your employee's engagement tomorrow?

First published on Tijs' Linkedin account.

Check-in Flow | Release Note

Product Features

Check-in Flow | Release Note

Check-ins will be under constant development, to make conversations go even more smoothly and insightful than ever before. Imagine a (nearby) future where you will actually look forward to those types of conversations. Isn't it beautiful?
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Check-ins will be under constant development, to make conversations go even more smoothly and insightful than ever before. We'll keep on fine-tunig the questions, the relevance of the feedback, the adjusting of the objectives and the overall summary of the talk until it's (close to) perfection. Imagine a (nearby) future where you will actually look forward to those types of conversations. Isn't it beautiful? 

Transcript

Laura:

Hi there!

In this release note, we’ll be talking about a couple of platform updates on existing features.

Whether it’s coming from us, or from feedback from a client, as long as it improves the experience, we’ll make sure to make it happen.

One of our latest enhancements is a new check-in flow.

We’ve updated the design in a way that each part of the conversation fits onto one page.

The page with the conversation questions has an additional new feature as well. The option to add specific questions from the questions library, or letting you make your own.

This allows people to start out with preformulated questions, and once they get the hang of it, they can come up with their own

People have already reported they are a big fan of this updated design, so we hope that you’ll experience the same feeling as well.

On the engagement front we have enabled the possibility to see who’s been rather inactive lately.

Maybe they’re using an outdated email address?

Or they just don't see the use of answering these pulses?

In which case it would be good to remind people that the better their input is, the better management knows how to improve the work environment and overall culture.

And if the issue should be the frequency of the pulses, you’ll be happy to know that, from now on, you can adjust that setting in the engagement controls as well.

Thank you for watching this release note coming from INTUO.

If you have any questions or remarks, please get in touch through our chat intercom on the website, or by email or telephone of course.

Bye!

Once every two weeks

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4 possible ways to screw up your company culture

Tips

4 possible ways to screw up your company culture

Before you start thinking “dude, my company's culture’s solid,” do consider some stats that are relevant to any (growing) company, indicating that “culture” is more complex than merely purchasing five extra ping-pong tables, and treating your employees to 25 pizzas once a month.
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Before you start thinking “dude, my company's culture is solid,” do consider some stats that are relevant to any (growing) company, indicating that “culture” is more complex than merely purchasing five extra ping-pong tables, and treating your employees to 25 pizzas once a month.

Research shows that 86% of business leaders rate culture as one of the more urgent talent issues, yet, only 14 percent understand what the “right culture” really is.

So what is the right culture?

Achieving the "right culture" isn't something that is done over night. It is also a unique process that will only be applicable to your specific organization. However, it does involve avoiding a couple of pitfalls. We've summed up four popular beliefs that should be eradicated from your mind as a business owner or as a team leader. If you do this, you’ll get a whole lot closer to the “right culture” for your company.


  1. “She’s young, so a profitable company like ours will be mega attractive."

  2. Study after study has shown that companies with a strong sense of purpose and a clearly defined set of cultural values outperform their peers. Millennials state that their organization’s purpose is the main reason they choose their employer. Only 27 percent of millennials believe it is a company’s sole purpose to make money (down from 35 percent in 2013). The remaining 73% believes the main focus of an organization ought to be on stakeholders and impact.

    Screw millennials? Think again. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that since 2015 millennials have taken over the majority of the workforce and by 2030 this hyper-connected generation will make up 75% of the workforce.

    It’s thus up to you as a company to clearly state your mission and communicate this to the outside world. This is not only valuable for attracting the right people to hire, but also to reach the right segment of customers.


  3. “We need more structure. We need more hierarchy.”

  4. Today’s economic model is under attack. Research shows that 92% of companies believe their organizational design is not working, yet only 14% knows how to fix it.

    The majority of these organizational models revolve around big top-down functional structures that are anything but flexible. Using a dozen of layers in your organization hinders a fluent transition of knowledge that should, in fact, be transmitted as quick as possible.

    The manager of the team leader's coach decided that..

    Don’t make things more complicated than they need to be. The solution lies in empowering people in smaller decentralized teams. Work on an organizational culture that keeps people aligned and innovative in serving customers on the front line. Start thinking more down the line of a ‘network of teams’ instead of hierarchical units. This also implies delegating responsibility (and accountability) and grant people a certain amount of trust.


  5. “Have you done what I asked you to?” (times 20)

  6. Micromanagement is a weapon of mass destruction that kills decentralization and the ‘right” culture.

    ‘Power by control’ and you’re fired. Hello there, ‘Power by people’!

    What would motivate you more?

    A. Your manager telling you to stand in the cold streets and flyer for two days straight, or

    B. You and your manager agreeing that — considering the goals of the company — flyering two days straight would actually make an impact.

    The answer is simple. You WILL increase purpose and performance by allowing your team members to enjoy decision-making opportunities within autonomous work teams. Awarding people more autonomy, results not just in higher productivity, but also results directly in more satisfaction in the workplace.

    As a manager or team leader, don’t just tell the people in your team what they should do. Take the time to explain the value of this assignment, while stressing the importance of their efforts. Make the why of the task clear and paint the bigger picture.


  7. “A pay raise is the best praise.”

  8. Apart from a few specific roles (e.g. certain sales profiles that work commission based), the key to a high-performing employee isn’t money.

    Of course, money is a driver (let’s not kid ourselves), but there a few things that score higher on the list than that. We are all performing on a daily basis. So how come we are only talking about it once a year during the annual review? Instead, just do what all of us constantly do with our friends and family: TALK!

    If someone did something great , simply tell them they did an awesome job and how it impacted the team/organization! You’ll make them feel great, and motivate them to do even more. Why wouldn’t you help someone grow to be a better person? Give feedback and they’ll thank you! Have a regular one-on-one moment with your co-workers and team leader. Find what motivates them! Agree on and set out team and personal objectives to work towards the same company purpose.

    These are just four pitfalls that can hurt your culture. If you feel you have some other examples (that you’ve experienced for yourself), we'd be glad to listen and maybe turn it into a story that other people can learn from. So reach out to us, because (excuse us for the overused phrase) sharing is caring!

Why gratitude should be your number one core value

Strategy & Solution

Why gratitude should be your number one core value

There are few things in the world that science is as sure of as the beneficial effects of gratitude, yet it’s something that is rarely put to use. Creating a positive, effective, burn-out free and creative culture is just as easy as introducing gratitude. Some videos inside will explain what I'm talking about.
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There are few things in the world that science is as sure of as the beneficial effects of gratitude, yet it’s something that is rarely put to use. Creating a positive, effective, burn-out free and creative culture is just as easy as introducing gratitude.

People have a tendency to take the hard way. Organizations are completely restructuring, complicated new processes are implemented,.. all in favour of installing a transparent company culture. Yet a straightfoward principle as 'gratefulness', is often overlooked.

Don’t just take my word for it, just look at these videos below to see what I'm talking about.

The reasoning behind gratefulness

Think about two words that make everyone happy...

'Thank you.' It is scientifically proven that these words make you happier.

The explanation behind it is that we are on a 'hedonic treadmill': we stay on a constant level of happiness, with very few peeks. This is because we take things that make us happy for granted. If you start to become actively grateful, you automatically will become a happier person. In addition to this, studies show that people who focus more on being grateful, have higher levels of general well-being, sleep better and exercise more.

Gratitude in the workplace

<^>

The advantages of being grateful on a personal and organizational level are unbelievable. Being thankful makes you appreciate what’s already there, which significantly reduces stress. That, in turn, leaves more room for focussed decision-making and creative thinking. Look at the video of Lea to find out more advantages for your organization.

Emotional proof

And if you’re a person that cannot be convinced with reason, there’s a little more emotional proof in this video above. It's another piece of evidence that one of the greatest contributing factors of overall happiness, is how much gratitude you show.

Gratitude is a contagious emotion. If you express gratitude often, people are going to love helping you out and will want to work with you. That also counts for help you’re looking for outside of your team. If you’re looking for a mentor, that person is way more likely to stick around if you show them how grateful you are for their help. So it’s something you’ll see happening around you once you start doing it.

Habits

So go ahead and start building habits that revolve around gratitude. Do a Friday evening thank you round with the team, write cards to thank people in the organization (on their birthday for example), have a fun game of ‘high fives’ at your next Christmas party and urge people to do random acts of kindness (without expecting anything in return).

And if you’re still yearning for some gratitude, here’s Matthew McConaughey winning an Oscar:

Originally published on Arne's Medium account.

We have to learn to disagree

Expert Knowledge

We have to learn to disagree

We have to learn to disagree. We need new ways of eating, living together, consuming, working, building community, and traveling. Be it for different reasons: to be on top of the competition, to save the world from disappearing under water, to cure the cancer of a loved one or to be a trendsetter. We all agree: the sky is the limit. We need innovative and creative solutions. We need to create a new normal.
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We have to learn to disagree. We need new ways of eating, living together, consuming, working, building community, and traveling. Just to name a few: everybody agrees on right-wing parties and left-wing parties; climate change believers and climate change deniers; digital natives and analog natives. Be it for different reasons: to be on top of the competition, to save the world from disappearing under water, to cure the cancer of a loved one or to be a trendsetter. We all agree: the sky is the limit. We need innovative and creative solutions. We need to create a new normal.

Collaboration meets innovation

We also agree that we cannot do it alone: Steve had Steve, Barack had Joe and organizations collectively build teams to deal with complex problems.

Disagreeing is the biggest potential of any collaboration.

But what is it about collaboration and innovation? Merely bringing together a couple of people is not going to do the trick. The key lies in the potential of disagreement. Disagreement is not only inevitable in teams, or anywhere where a collection of people is confronted with each other to get to the next step (think about making a relationship work or organizing the next family weekend). It is also the biggest potential of any collaboration. If a team develops the ability to use disagreement in a constructive way, it has the secret ingredient to create a flow of energy so strong that it opens the world of innovation. However, if the disagreement is dealt with in a destructive way, it is a missed opportunity for innovation.

Agree to disagree

So the first step to innovation is to learn how to disagree; not as a team, but as an individual. We need to learn how to be open to people very different from us; to learn how to disagree with people we would normally not (dare to) disagree with; to respectfully ask about the why and the how of the disagreement. To respectfully explain your point of view and to build upon this conflicting information to construct new points of view. Not only because you just start with more information if you also have contrasting information. It turns out that it is not the disagreement in itself that serves innovation, but the fact that when someone disagrees with us, we start to think differently. Adding contrasting information to the stored knowledge in our brain helps us find new solutions. 

Can you handle it?

But that implies that we can deal with disagreement. And that requires vulnerability, lots of gut and a huge amount of maturity. Because, let's be honest, who really likes pointing out to his/her boss that they have a different point of view? Who really enjoys telling someone who worked blood sweat and tears on a project for months that they forgot to include contrasting but essential evidence? And who likes it to be pointed out by their loved ones that they are wrong? Or admit that they changed point of views after hearing conflicting information?

Every party in the disagreement needs to be mature enough not to see disagreement as a personal or professional attack but rather as an essential part of the route to the solution. That is when we start learning together. That is when we really start thinking out of the box. That is when we start co-creating new things. That is when real innovative ideas are born.

Aspiring HR Manager in 2020? Not without these skills.

Expert Knowledge

Aspiring HR Manager in 2020? Not without these skills.

Look at it like this: when you asked someone how important IT was for strategy in the 80s, people would answer: “not at all.” But today, the CIO often has more to say about the business’ strategy than the CEO. Well, that same shift is happening in HR right now: Once process engineers, now evolving to strategy enablers.
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Look at it like this: when you asked someone how important IT was for strategy in the 80s, people would answer: “not at all.” But in this day and age, the CIO often has more to say about the business’ strategy than the CEO. The "I" in their title might have something to do with that, "Information". Knowledge is power, so they say. Well, that same shift is happening in HR right now: Once process engineers, now evolving to strategy enablers.

A shift in role for HR

Since every company has access to the same "cheap raw material” we call technology, it’s not your location, assets or processes that make the difference, but your people.

For example, let's say you have a firm that helps people invest their money. All of your competitors have the same kind of technology-enabled service that enables clients to follow-up on their investment within seconds. It gives them total transparency about your product formulas and minimizes direct contact if they want to change their portfolio. In this scenario, there are only two ways to make the difference with your competitors.

First, you’ll need great employees on the front line that can give your clients the ease of mind they’re looking for when leaving their money somewhere. Second, by developing new technology & products that serve the changing needs of your customers at an unseen speed. So again, it’s the developers, UX designers, functional analysts... that will make the difference, not the fact that you bought a good piece of software. And it’s enabling those talented people to create true differentiating service/products that will move your HR into that new role.

There's a pressure for HR to show their value.

Traditionally HR was defined as a four-headed role: administrative expert, employee champion, strategic partner and change enabler. The emphasis used to be on the first two roles, but is moving towards the latter two in recent years. So be sure to catch up on these skills to be ready to be the HR manager of the future:

  1. New organizational design and fancy models

    The organization of the future doesn’t look like a family tree anymore. It’s all about circles, squads, chapters, large scale Scrum or becoming teal. Whichever of the models your company will implement, the reason is generally to have a faster time-to-customer process when offering services or new products, or getting more done with less effort. Below we’ve listed some of the models that give an introduction.

    HR Analytics
    Overview Of Big Data Science And Statistics Along The Way

    By the way, the great opportunity here is that these models enable people to have more autonomy, work closer together in teams, apply fewer politics and use their strengths to deliver value (instead of a predefined set of competencies that matches their job description). And coincidentally, those are three things that increase happiness at the job.

  2. The business acumen

    If you want to prepare for the future, it is important to understand the present very well and that everything you do in HR has an added value for the business (even if they don’t see it themselves). From the company’s perspective, it is crucial that HR understands the particular company’s and sector’s challenges, so they don’t invent processes for the sake of inventing processes. From a personal perspective: when working in a more HR oriented role you will have more impact with a business background. If you want to coach and advise your line managers, it will ease your job if you can speak from experience.

    Added tip: dive into some alternative business models and innovative companies, so you can help drive innovation as well. (Bright Shiny Objects And The Future Of HR, It's Time To Split HR, 27 Revenue Model Options Curated By Arne Van Balen)
  3. The shift in HR
  4. Data analytics to the rescue

    Because HR’s role is shifting to that of a profit center, there’s more pressure for HR to show their value. Some companies and institutions are experimenting with the creation of accounting rules to capture the value of their social capital, but it doesn’t even need to be that formal. Using data to show that certain initiatives have an impact in the context of human beings has proven to be difficult, but more advanced technology and predictive algorithms are changing that. Google has shown for example that certain tests about initiative-taking are better predictors of job performance than good grades in ivy-league schools.

  5. Change management

    If we would like to execute our company’s strategy, the involvement of our employees is key. On a company level, we’ll have to change our organization structure, our processes, culture, and leadership. We will design HR initiatives with their desired outcome. And we will measure our progress and impact. Do not forget to use your data analytical skills to measure your company’s progress on the implementation of the strategy.
    Next to the change management on the company level, it is key to look at it from an employee’s perspective. So as HR we should be able to show our employees the interesting impact on their career and way of working. This will be key to drive a faster strategy adoption.


    Want to discuss the future of HR or other subjects with Arne? You can! Just book your 20 minute meeting at HRcoreLab5 in Barcelona.

  6. Talent management

    The classic role of HR as talent manager will stay crucial. First, we have to coach and advise our company’s leadership, so they are ready for a future-oriented management style. Second, we should define those people that have an impact on our organization. They will be key to thrive our strategy. They have to be aware of their influential role, and you will have to coach them to increase their influence. Third, we have to make sure that every employee is aware of our strategy and their individual impact. You should know their skills and passion, their engagement and their involvement in the company. A powerful tool to get into the heads of the employees is creating an employee journey. It will offer you an interesting insight into your employees’ impact on the company. On top of that, you will be able to translate your strategy goals in a more individual and personal way to each of your employees.

Co-written together with An Brosens, HR Director at Tobania.

Why competency models are intellectual masturbation

Strategy & Solution

Why competency models are intellectual masturbation

In the old days, when companies were run like big controllable machines, competency models probably made sense. But using them now is a bit like using a postal pigeon to send a frame-by-frame printout of a YouTube video to a friend. It’s costly, slow, and on the usefulness scale the arrow is pointing to Zero.
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In the old days, when companies were run like big controllable machines, competency models probably made sense. But using them now is a bit like using a postal pigeon to send a frame-by-frame printout of a YouTube video to a friend. It’s costly, it’s slow, and on the usefulness scale, the arrow is pointing to Nada-Zero-Nothing.

Of course, competencies can be useful when used in a reactive way to create the hiring pipeline, guide people into relevant training, gain insight into succession planning and define the desired culture. But they are NOT useful for increasing company-wide performance if you use them to evaluate or promote.

They are oblivious to the complexity of today’s tasks

If you have a company of people that shovel snow off people’s driveways I can imagine that there are competencies that could be used for the role of snow-shoveler to increase overall customer satisfaction. You’d probably want them to be friendly, thorough and proactive. But if a job becomes any more complicated than that, the difficulty of the exercise increases along with it.

It’s by letting them be who they are that they are successful in what they do.

These days people are trying hard to escape the narrow prison cell that is their function description, to meet their clients’ changing needs. When a customer demands flexibility, you simply can't ignore it in this climate of abundant options and possibilities. So if you, being in charge, decide to divide that prison cell into even smaller parts by adding competencies, that person totally loses all breathing room to be creative, take the initiative and actually help your customers. Who made you the "Grand Chief Know-it-all Officer" that knows exactly how everyone in your company should do their job? It’s just unrealistic that a few people in the organization have the knowledge and insight to decide on that.

Psychologically, they give way to evaluation and obstruct coaching

Give people a list of things to score, and they feel powerful. Feeling powerful is not the right mindset to start a coaching conversation. But even without that psychological pitfall, it’s easy to see that those competency lists restrict creativity in coaching. A true coach can help a person figure out what they need to do to improve, without delivering a set of improvement points even before the session has started. His/her goal is not to massage your brain until it’s molded into something that does a specific amount of tasks in a specific way. There are machines for that now.

They work against strengths

This one is easiest to explain with a personal example. At INTUO we have three people working as an account executive (closing deals), one is good in sales because he’s very analytical, the other radiates trust and the last one honestly loves figuring out solutions with the customers. It’s by letting them be who they are and allow them to use their strengths to the fullest that they are successful in what they do. No predefined list of competencies would’ve made them any better, on the contrary.

They counteract customer centricity

A lot of effort is being put into increasing companies' agility, meaning that your companies' tasks (and products) will change very often. In that situation, it's probably not the worst idea to come up with a system for coaching/evaluating people that is adaptive instead of rigid and top-down. By the way, the whole exercise of defining functions with matching competencies takes so long that the result will always be outdated anyway, even in a relatively slow changing market.

Want to discuss competency models or other subjects with Arne? You can! Just book your 20 minute meeting at HRcoreLab5 in Barcelona.

So, take a few steps back and try to keep your competency models on a macro level. Or if you do want to use them in a more micro way, use them reactively. That implies that you don’t decide who’s good at what beforehand, but that you try to analytically discover what skills & behaviors make a person perform well in a role. That’s what you’ll be looking for in a hiring or succession context as well then.

An example of competency overkill

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The most powerful tool to impact your workplace...

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The most powerful tool to impact your workplace...

When I look back at my life, one of the greatest regrets in my professional career has to do with things I didn’t say but should have said. I was afraid of making a fool out of myself and thought that if I appreciated my people too much they would start to take things for granted and expect more and more.
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If you were going to die soon, and had only one phone call to make, who would you call and what would you say?

And what is keeping you from doing it right now?

When I look back at my life, one of the greatest regrets in my professional career has to do with things I didn’t say but should have said. In the course of my career, I have met so many wonderful people yet often I failed to express my deepest appreciation to those people for what they did for my company and me. I often felt reluctant to say how I felt about them or was too busy to free up some time to thank them. I was afraid of making a fool out of myself and thought that if I appreciated my people too much they would start to take things for granted and expect more and more.

It was only much later in my career that I realized that appreciation was the missing link for creating an open and successful organization: a workplace where people could thrive and were able to grow into truly happy and engaged people.

I never realized it was because of my own attitude that we experienced difficulties in building a great team, making our people work more effectively and booking great financial results. Once I discovered this missing link, everything started to change. This is one of the reasons I decided to help other companies build a culture of recognition.

I was afraid that if I appreciated my people too much they would start to take things for granted.

In today’s business world, which is too often cold and unresponsive, uplifting words are springs of warmth and encouragement. We all need a boost from time to time, and a compliment, some words of encouragement or a few lines of praise have been known to turn around a day – sometimes even someone’s life!

On the 1st of March, we celebrate World Compliment Day. World Compliment Day reminds us that praise, appreciation, and encouragement are keys to creating happy, healthy and successful workplaces. But what if you would take this opportunity to share a compliment not just on World Compliment Day but every single day from this day on? If you want to improve your life and the lives of those around you, just start with building a culture of recognition.

People often think of recognition as the kind of fluffy feel-good stuff. However, this recognition can drive real results. And the good thing is that it is not expensive, and you don’t need an MBA or be in a position of authority to do it.

So, if there is one message I hope you will remind from this post, it is that no matter who you are or what you do, you have the power to use recognition to make a difference in people’s lives. Each and every day, you have the power to show people that you truly care and that what they do really matters. You have the power to help individuals reach their full potential by saying how much you value them.

Let us attack the recognition deficit that exists in our workplaces today and together we can make our business world a better, happier place…

Increase your level of job satisfaction by 25%

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Increase your level of job satisfaction by 25%

Lea Water found that feeling grateful predicts 25% of your job satisfaction. By "feeling grateful" Waters refers to "you being grateful" and/or "working in a workplace that has a culture of gratitude." Read on for three simple "Do It Yourself" tricks to move your team and organization towards a culture of gratitude...
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Lea Water found that feeling grateful predicts 25% of your job satisfaction. By ‘feeling grateful’ Waters refers to ‘you being grateful’ and/or ‘working in a workplace that has a culture of gratitude.'

Below are three ‘Do It Yourself’ tricks to move your team and organization towards a culture of gratitude:

  1. Gratitude letters and journals

  2. Ask yourself and your team members to do the following at the end of every day: “when you get home, please write down three things you feel grateful for at work.” Next, you take it a small step further and ask them to write a note, in which to thank a co-worker. You’ll quickly notice that this approach forces you not just to look at what is going wrong, something a lot of managers tend to do. Instead, it makes you sit down and think of “what went well today?” and “what exactly am I grateful for at my job?”

    Feeling grateful determines 25% of your overall job satisfaction


  3. Random acts of kindness

  4. Leave some flowers or a funny post-it on your colleague’s desk, or buy them their favorite snack... for no specific reason other than the fact you like them being there. Send a thank you card to your customer or compose a small shout-out on your social media channels, etc. These acts of kindness will leave you feeling good about yourself and make the receiver’s day. A no-brainer right?

    How we randomly thank our customers and partners at INTUO


  5. “What went well” & Peer recognition programs

  6. I remember being invited to the StoryMe HQ one Friday evening. I was amazed by how all the 50+ employees sat together, had a beer, and started their “good and bad” session. At such a “good and bad” session each member spoke up about what they believe went well that week, or what could have gone better. I witnessed how sharing the “bads” led up to people getting together afterward and converse on how they could help each other. On the other hand, the “goods” rarely were a one-person job —filling the room with praise and applause for the teams!

    To maintain and grow their gratitude culture, StoryMe has recently adopted our INTUO platform, to allow them to capture all praises and feedback. Even more, INTUO enables StoryMe to get a good understanding of how their employees wish to grow within the fast growing organization they have become. Slightly different, yet similar to StoryMe, we have adopted “Thankful Fridays” which occurs each Friday after our team meeting. We each take the time to thank one specific individual or team(s) in the company for how they have impressed us, surprised us, helped someone out, or handled a certain situation.

It may sound cheesy, but "Thankful Fridays" have produced a lot of smiles!

Create a habit out of these three tricks, keep it up, and after 4 months signs of a culture of gratitude will have slipped into your organization, positively impacting your and your colleagues’ job satisfaction.

First published on Jorn's Medium account.

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