How to initiate meaningful conversations with employees

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"I would recommend that any organization that is interested in growing its teams into powerful decision-makers, and people who are interactive and collaborative, TINYpulse would be invaluable."
Nanci Meadows, People Champion
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Transcript

The challenge that dynamic events and hub faced before we had TINYpulse was that we didn't actually have data. I mean, we anecdotally knew some of the challenges that we had because we're very collaborative and we communicate and we could talk about things, but TINYpulse has provided us in some cases which with actual chart data that has shown us trends and makes things pop so that we quickly and readily see which thing needs addressed the most and what needs the most attention, and when before TINYpulse, when I came on board as the people champion of dynamic events and hub, I established a one-on-one survey because I didn't like the idea of sending out a big long survey of questions and not being able to get information back from a person in regard to the answer they gave. So, the conversations I had were called DE life conversations and they were great because I did get lots of feedback from people, but it also wasn't anonymous because they were sitting there talking to me. So the huge benefit of TINYpulse in this regard is that not only do we get to offer anonymity, but we also get to continue the conversation with private messages. That's huge for us because now I get to have the dialogue back and forth to get the deeper understanding, but I still don't have to reveal who someone was if they don't want to be revealed. The anonymity makes it possible for team members to more quickly and easily engage with us because they don't have that same hesitation. Most often, when I initiate a private message conversation with someone and we start a dialog, it ends with them popping their head in my office and saying, "Oh, by the way, that was me. Can we just talk about this in person?" Which is an awesome benefit, but the anonymity I think is what opens the door to make the conversation possible in the first place. The way that I came upon TINYpulse was actually, we were searching for kind of ways to engage our team members and someone sent me an article on engagement. I hadn't even heard of engagement tools, but there was a link, a reference in there to TINYpulse. I followed the link. I saw that there was a 14 day free trial and I thought, "Hey, what the heck, let's try this thing out." And, within two weeks we were absolutely hooked and had to have it. We decided that TINYpulse was the best choice for us, honestly, after using it for two weeks for free. Our team members loved the cheers for peers, they were immediately all over it. And the data that we got back in just two weeks of pulse questions was invaluable to us and we could see the genuine value of it. Before we implemented TINYpulse, we were actively looking for ways to engage our team members in some other way than paper surveys, or meetings, or some of the other, I'd say more mundane ways, because we do have teams who are highly collaborative and innovative. When we came across TINYpulse and saw how it worked, we thought, "bingo, this is it." In my role with Dynamic Events and Hubb as people champion I am able, through TINYpulse, not only to have really meaningful conversations with people about things that matter to them, but I'm also able to go to all of our teams and say, here's some feedback or here's some data that may change how you continue your course of business with the people you're working with. It's been invaluable, not only for me but for everyone that I'm working with within the companies. So with TINYpulse, we send out a survey question every week and we ask the how happy are you at work question every six weeks. And we have found it is the sharing of the results of that data that makes the engagement so powerful. So every week following the question in an all-company meeting, we'll put the results up on a screen. Everyone gets to see what everyone else said and the conversations that come out of that actually promotes engagement in the next question because now someone wants to get their opinion heard. So in the next meeting, their voice will be part of the results and they will get to see it. We share the TINYpulse results every week with every member of our teams. So all of Dynamic Events and all of Hubb get to see all of the results. We don't segment, so everyone knows they're all in one big bucket and we also say that we don't filter, so if you haven't marked it as private, it's going to be shared with everyone else. It's full transparency of data. So in our weekly meetings we provide that information through a share back report. We literally generate the report, hit the share link, copy it and send it out. Yes, very easy. So I am the predominant responder to private messages or even to comments. I initiate the conversations. If I know that this topic is more pertinent for someone else to discuss or handle, then it will get transitioned to them. But primarily I am the point of contact as an administrator for TINYpulse. Our leadership team is very open and interested in engaging with TINYpulse. I will frequently reach out to someone who has sent in a response to say, "Hey, I would really love it if you could talk with this person and your anonymity will still remain intact or are you okay if they are aware?" But as far as the leadership team, they are more than willing and interested in engaging. Sometimes when we get difficult feedback or something that's maybe hard to hear, I will arrange for kind of a coffee meeting where we'll sit with our leadership team over in a more casual environment and say, "Okay, we've got some data that gives us some action that we need to take. And let's talk about this." Everyone's kind of already a little mentally prepared because they know if we're talking about it over coffee... But it's helpful to sit in what we call a V-team meeting, which is like a visionary team meeting and discuss the challenges. And most often what comes from that is the team saying, "Okay, let's go back to the team and let's openly share these comments and talk about the possible solution." So in our organization, we don't have what is called traditional HR, we have a foundation team and that's a team that supports all of our team members in a variety of ways. But TINYpulse has allowed us to tackle the difficult bits that people are maybe afraid to bring to another individual. We work in a self-managed team environment so we highly encourage owning your own issues. And we say that we don't lob things over the fence that someone else, we handle them ourselves. There was a concern that TINYpulse would create an environment where people could lob things over the offense to some anonymous... As an anonymous person to someone else. But the dialogue through private message helps us maintain that idea that we still manage our own issues and we get to talk through with someone. So it has really created an avenue for dialogue within what's considered HR. For us, our usage of TINYpulse, it's kind of reflective of our culture as a whole. We've never put ground rules around the use of TINYpulse particularly because as a company we agree that we are solution-driven and that we are collaborative and that we are transparent. And so, that really shines through and how people communicate through TINYpulse. Of course, there are days when people are hangry and they're going to send something that maybe they might wish they hadn't and we know that happens because we're human. But as a whole, I would say they behave very well through TINYpulse just like anywhere else in our work life. The happiness trend had a big impact on us. We have a large event that occurs every year in the fall and our happiness trend for Dynamic Events in 2016 showed a huge crash. It was something that we kind of knew but we hadn't seen it in all its graphic glory. And so than seeing it in that chart gave us the impetus to say, "we are not going to have that happen next year." And we started talking with our teams about, how can we avert this kind of event planner hell that happens. And we planned for it and we talked about what we could do differently that would allow us to level our loads in how we work. Maybe even hire new people to make sure we have enough people to get us through that event. And I'm happy to say that the very following year, that trend is not only flat through the event but even bumps up a little at the end. So it was a major success for us. I would recommend that any organization that is interested in growing its teams into powerful decision-makers, and people who are interactive and collaborative, TINYpulse would be invaluable. For us, the cheers, the virtual suggestions and the wins, and the private messaging itself, all of it is so valuable. We just can't imagine what it would be like to live without TINYpulse. We absolutely make our wins visible. Last year we won an award for most wins in our industry and we're pretty proud of that because we really do. The whole point of it is to learn what people would like to have happened and to be able to do it. So we do have... Our cheers feed is continually scrolling on two screens in our offices and everyone has access to the wins board. The TINYpulse team during our onboarding was wonderful. I felt like it was maybe a team of 5 or 10 people. It felt so personal and I felt like I knew who these people were. I had email exchanges and conversations. I knew that they knew me and they knew my business and what we did, and it seems like it happens so quickly, like how could anyone do that? But I felt like there was some genuine care and the fact of the product is what it was, it made sense to me. Well, of course, these people care, look at what they build. I would say the challenge that we had with people participating early on, first there was a little bit of concern around anonymity, but we went over with everyone, TINYpulse's commitment to anonymity. And then I showed everyone in the whole company, my admin dashboard and I showed them how we don't segment and I showed them how it was impossible for us to figure out who they were and so that quickly cleared it. Other than that, we didn't have lots of challenges. People really enjoy the survey questions and participate when they're interested. I think that the way we have maintained excitement and enthusiasm around the TINYpulse survey questions is in the consistent sharing back of the results. Anytime you take a poll or a survey, you're really curious to know, did everyone else think like I did. Or, is someone gonna see my comment and maybe something will come of that. So sharing back the data for everyone to see all of the data absolutely encourages participation week over week. I have two favorite wins... well, even more than that, but one of the winds was putting a shower in our office. For the longest time we had this room that had the makings of a shower. It was kind of a rough-in, but we didn't have one. We have a workout room, we have a personal trainer, we have yoga, everyone wanted a shower and it was something that had kind of been anecdotally talked about over the years. When we got TINYpulse, it came through as a suggestion and then there were so many people liking it and so many other people seconding it that it finally got the attention it merited, and we got the shower. The second one is, it's kind of a funny one, embarrassing and it probably won't make the cut, is that the people who were in the office next to the men's restroom requested soundproofing tiles in the men's restroom because they didn't like the thin wall nature of being next to the men's restroom, and we did it. We put in soundproofing tiles all over the inside of the men's restroom. The office next door is very happy and the guys in the restroom say it looks like a sound studio and they think it's kind of fun. So yeah, one of the wonderful things about attending TINYcon is you learn about new things, and I learned that TINYpulse will integrate with Microsoft teams, which we are heavy users of, and I'm really excited about that, going to be implementing that. If not here, then as soon as I get home.