I’m not usually someone who likes to look in the rearview mirror however, in business sometimes you have to look back in order to move forward. The end of the financial year provides a natural time to pause and take stock; what did we set out to achieve, where were we successful, where did we fall short, and most importantly, what goals are we setting for the next year and what’s our plan to accomplish them.
Now, last year was really one for the history books and I’ve written a lot about my learnings and the changes in direction and strategy we went through at BBT. But even before the first lockdown kicked in, changing our focus, one of our goals was to spend more time on team engagement.
We have a fantastic team, and as a digital company we skew younger with a high energy, really supportive group who all care deeply about doing a good job and helping our clients succeed. If our clients aren’t getting the results they need, we have long discussions about how we can change that.
But as a business owner, I struggle to have ongoing one on one conversations with all staff, so knew I needed help when it came to reviewing team engagement and getting unbiased feedback from everyone. So we talked to the team at MyTeamPulse.
I like supporting other kiwi startups and their online tool ticked all the boxes, asking staff anonymously how they’re feeling. Importantly for me, MyTeamPulse’s series of questions cover more than team engagement, delving into mojo and team leadership too.
We’ve all read articles and case studies about the links between engagement and bottom line growth… and at this time a major metric for our business was productivity and efficiency. As a service based business, time is money so the more productive we are, the more we grow. Simple.
Anyway, we completed our first MyTeamPulse measure in November 2019, scoring 40% on team engagement (ouch), 100% on leadership (yay), and we had a number of team members close to burning out i.e. the mojo score from MyTeamPulse was pretty low too.
Seeing the results, I felt…
The areas of engagement and mojo both needed focus so I looked inwardly to see what needed to be done, where I could be a better leader, and where my team leaders needed to be coached and mentored to be more effective too. We spoke to every staff member we had ‘pulsed’. Not a witch hunt, but more like “I clearly need to do better here, tell me where myself or BBT can do better to support you in your role”.
A lot of discussion was had, and we got a lot of feedback. I was somewhat relieved to find there were no skeletons in the closet; everyone actually enjoyed what they were doing but what they needed, was to know specifically how all the hard work they were doing was aligning to the company goals e.g. it’s sometimes hard for a developer writing lines and lines of code, to know how that contributes to a company goal of growing by 30% for the FY.
So at the start of 2020 off we went making changes and improving how we communicated with every department, team and employee, working hard to keep them aligned to our goals. Pretty quickly we saw our engagement scores rise to over 90%. Amazing results. Not only from a culture and personal perspective, but results the business started to see were immense too. We’d continued to track our productivity and efficiency metrics and were pleased to see positive momentum here too… yep, I hate to be cliched but BBT was proving to be another case of team engagement driving positive business outcomes!
We were getting all sorts of feedback about how we can improve things, and where areas of frustration could be eliminated. The team were more engaged, the business was more energised and it felt like we were really hitting our straps. Then Covid happened. Clients were calling and putting everything on hold, staff felt unsure about their future, and I wasn’t able to tell them what that future looked like – I have no crystal ball. All that uncertainty creates anxiety which is not great for productivity.
Taking the communication learnings from the previous few months, I essentially said to the entire team, “This is a major, and I think it’s going to last for quite some time, with a lot of uncertainty around the globe as to the impact of this pandemic. There’s a lot I don’t know, but the one thing I do know is that for us to come out the other side of this, we need to stay focused on our people and our clients”. I knew if we could do that, we would all get through it ok.
We doubled down on the MyTeamPulse surveys and all the conversations around the results and how people were feeling. We knew it was vital to be completely transparent about what was going on at BBT too, and to my great surprise, our overall engagement didn’t actually change much. With all that negativity swirling around in NZ and across the globe, I was preparing for the worst. However it stayed pretty constant.
That put me at ease – by focusing on team engagement we’d also lifted the team’s mojo helping them to stay more resilient in the face of such dramatic changes to all of our lives. It was quite heart warming really.
By the time we had 5 months of data through the MyTeamPulse App, we’d also tracked a whopping 22% increase in our productivity. Much to my amazement and delight. As a business we were able to conclusively tie our engagement metrics to our business metrics. Talking about having your finger on the pulse!