“You can add whatever you want, so long as it doesn’t include the word, ‘but’.”
That’s the golden rule that guides all my brainstorming sessions.
What does this accomplish?
It nurtures ideas when they’re at their most fragile. But most interestingly, it helps solve an age-old collaboration riddle:
How do you get everyone to share their great ideas when not everyone feels comfortable speaking up?
In my experience, people aren’t always comfortable presenting ideas, but they’re okay with adding to existing ones.
This insight played a big role in Shinydocs’ people and culture efforts over the past 6 months. And it’s one of three big reasons why, after our recent eNPS survey in October, we boosted our score by 18 points.
The reason for our success comes down to three guiding principles:
- Don’t make assumptions about what people think or want. Ask.
- Give people an opportunity to share their opinions in multiple ways.
- Incorporate your people into the development of any action plan.
Action #1: Don’t make assumptions – just ask
We held our very first eNPS survey in April. There were some responses we were expecting, but others that surprised us. So we had two options:
- Guess what Shinydocs’ team members want and then put an action plan in place to deliver
- Go back to our teams and ask them to clarify their thoughts and expectations, and help put an action plan together
We went with the latter, and it was well worth the effort.
We identified three key themes that came up often in the survey responses and organized open sessions around them.
There were fruitful conversations. We leaned in and learned a lot. But we still had more work to do…
Action #2: Give people multiple ways to participate
The sessions were a great success, but we noticed two key challenges:
- People weren’t always comfortable speaking up in an open session where dozens of people were attending
- People didn’t always have the time to participate, even though they had insights to share
In response, we organized smaller sessions and asked representatives from each group to share any insights. Adapting this way opened the door for more collaboration, and it allowed us to really understand and identify what the teams were talking about in the survey and what they actually wanted.
For the people who couldn’t attend our live sessions, we had Jamboards that allowed them to go in and add to the ideas that’d been presented in the open sessions. Even employees who’d participated in the live sessions could go into the Jamboards and continue the conversation.
Once we had all of this feedback, we turned it into an action plan.
Action #3: Incorporate your people into your action plan development
Everyone felt like they were part of – and responsible for – the solution, because we included the entire organization in the process.
It wasn’t the people experience team saying, “This is what we’re doing based on your feedback.”
Instead, it was an action plan that the wider company felt it had a hand in crafting.
It confirms another lesson I learned early in my career: pilot everything.
More often than not, companies overthink things. Buckling yourself in and piloting everything is the best way to prevent analysis paralysis. You’ve got to be willing to innovate and take chances, but you’ve also got to be willing to fess up when you mess up. That’s how you build transparency and that’s how you build trust whether it’s with a specific team or company wide.
I’m excited to see what we learn from our team next. In the meantime, thank you to everyone on our team who works hard to make Shinydocs an incredible place to work, build, and learn.
I’d love to hear from other People and Culture leaders. What’s been your experience with putting the insights from your employee surveys into action? Let’s connect on LinkedIn and continue the conversation.