Talk about digital transformation and you’ll hear all the technology buzzwords. The technical side of digital transformation is essential, of course, but the other key ingredient for success is largely underrepresented. I’ve never seen a successful digital transformation happen without employee engagement.
Employee engagement, though, hinges on a great employee experience (EX). And when it comes to employee experience, everybody has a story. All of us, at some point, have (hopefully) worked in situations that helped us thrive. And many of us have our own “horror story” situations in which we weren’t valued or respected at work.
Much of employee experience falls on the shoulders of direct managers and team leads, but a good employee experience should also be institutionalized. In the best companies, it’s baked into a company’s DNA and values.
Leslie Stretch, CEO of Medallia, a company whose Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform helps its customers understand and manage the experience for their customers and employees, is what I call an employee evangelist. That’s one of the reasons I was happy to have Leslie as my guest on the Xaas Files podcast recently so he could share his wisdom and best practices. You don’t hear enough CEOs talk about the importance of employee experience. Leslie does it proudly. Let’s cover a few of his main takeaways around EX.
Inconsistency in the way you treat customers and your employees “is going to cause a big disruption in your business.”
Leslie described companies who put on a “false face” for customers while treating employees in a completely different manner. “What we see again and again is great brands who provide their customers with the best possible tools to interact with them. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, their employees are getting first-generation technology.” He said Medallia’s philosophy was one of treating employees as customers, while treating customers as customers and partners for life.
I couldn’t agree more. Accenture defines employee experience as a personalized work environment that inspires our people to be their best, amplify their human potential and helps our clients to flourish. But you have to design and deliver that through an experience platform that is context-aware, and you have to train your people to work collaboratively.
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Two-thirds of leaders feel they create empowering environments.
One-third of employees agree that leaders create an empowering environment.
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Keep it steady and be a great wingman.
A CEO’s job has so many moving parts. Leslie sees the role through a different lens than many. “My job . . . in addition to resource allocation, the income statement, the balance sheet—is to remove variables . . . we have a responsibility to create a stable environment and remove those variables. In the pandemic, that’s been a lot harder.”
Leslie believes it’s the job of the executives and team leads that work for him to become the best coach they can be. “I don’t believe in performance management. I only believe in coaching . . . you don’t have to have domain expertise to be a great coach. You can just be a fabulous wingman. You’re never finished.”
These can be tricky feats, right? As a former CEO, I can attest to that. For example, Accenture research shows two-thirds of leaders (68%) feel they create empowering environments in which, for example, employees can be themselves, raise concerns and innovate without fear of failure. Just one-third (36%) of employees agree. We have some road to travel and again, this is where data collection and analytics via an experience platform can help bring consistency to corporate culture.
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Hire people who buy into your company’s mission and then support them.
This sounds so simple. And yet, it’s not when you try to execute it. Leslie spoke of the trend for people to jump to work for the highest bidder. He doesn’t feel those are the people who will make his best team. Here, he says, Medallia looks for certain shared values: “What we’re interested in are people that really buy into the mission, who really want to be part of the team, that expect us to be loyal to them. And they expect to be supported and they want a stable progression . . . “
I’m sure you’re all hearing about the Great Resignation. I don’t think it should come as a surprise to most companies. Our research last year showed that roughly one in two workers agree that the ethical, sustainable and moral values a company holds will become more important to them after the pandemic passes. Meaning, many workers who don’t feel their company lives shared values and a sincere mission will leave for a company that does—but many have waited until they felt the worst of the pandemic was over. Values and mission, as well as feeling valued, matter more than ever to company growth—and to employees treating customers in the best possible way.
I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing some of Leslie’s nuggets of wisdom on why employee engagement is essential to digital transformation and growth. To learn more from this episode, check it out here.
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