As seen on simply-communicate November 2014
"Rather than having our executives telling us what our culture was all about, we wanted to hear that from our people."
Doug Upchurch is the Head of Learning and Development at Insights. The global people development company operates across 30 countries with the mission of "making a positive difference in the world by supporting individuals in understanding both themselves and others."
In order to help the outside world however, the company needed to offer a system to enable better understanding of their own internal environment.
Upchurch was looking for a solution to explore, collect and document the company's culture in all its offices around the globe. "Part of my challenge was to engage our people in all these different zones. I wanted to ask them what they really thought about working at Insights.”
But, he did not want to commission a traditional survey. “It was really about creating a company-wide conversation on the topic."
That is when Waggl came into play. The real-time communication tool helped Upchurch's team to crowdsource employee feedback in a totally transparent and innovative way.
Five questions... and beyond
Waggl was used as part of an internal campaign called "Culture Jam”, which lasted for a week. The idea was to talk about the Insights’ culture collaboratively. “As in a musical jazz session where the players build on each other’s sounds, we wanted to spark meaningful conversations by building on everyone's inputs."
The digital tool was separate to Insight’s intranet, One. It is a hosted virtual system integrated into the company's SharePoint platform. Staff were invited to go there and answer five open questions:
- 'What one adjective would you use to describe our culture and why?'
- 'What symbol, image, object, or place would best represent our culture and why?
- 'How would you describe our culture to a friend of yours that is thinking about coming to work at Insights?'
- 'If our culture had a tag line of mantra, what would it be?'
- 'Share an experience you have had or heard about at Insights that you believe best exemplifies our culture.'
Upchurch received the highest number of responses compared to all the surveys he had ever done in the past. He cites a number of factors that contributed to this success. First, "the system was very simple to use. People could choose which questions to answer in a straightforward way." It was also mobile friendly and staff could join it easily from any device.
But, what was really powerful about using Waggl was that employees could see the answers of their colleagues and vote on them. Those votes would bring the most popular answers to the top.
"As people were voting on each other’s answers, we started to see what they really liked and thought about working here.”
While a traditional survey is one-way and people never see what their peers are saying, "the situation here was entirely the opposite."
That openness made all the difference. “That was the point of using Waggl.”
Staff could answer and vote as many times as they wanted to. "They would go back at the end of each day to see which new answers had been added, and to place their votes. It created the same appetite that people have when checking updates from their friends on Facebook, but in a corporate environment."
A new language
The whole exercise unveiled novel ways to describe the Insights' culture: "In employees' words. No corporate speak."
In fact, a whole new language was forming to describe the company. For example, on the question, 'What symbol, image, object, or place would best represent our culture and why?' the answer that came up at the top of the list was a 'campfire'. The metaphor used by an employee said that Insights was like ‘everyone being on a camping ground playing his or her part. Some people would cook, others would gather wood or light the fire, etc.’ Other images included a tree, the ocean and a colourful school of fish.
On the question, 'If our culture had a tag line of mantra, what would it be?' the most popular answers included ‘Be yourself, be connected, and enjoy the journey,’ ‘Helping to bring out the best in each other’ and ‘The hugging company!’
“These were the words that our people used, liked and understood. Far away from any business jargon.”
Read the full article on simply-communicate