Employee Engagement

The Situation

With morale at an all-time low and attrition on the rise, our client was struggling to keep experienced talent within the organization. Members of the CTO2 team were brought in to assist with both attracting and retaining talent.

 

Assessment

Assessments are typically a multi-day interview process where we meet one on one with members of the organization at all levels to get a sense of the overall health of the people and systems.

Interviews are entirely confidentail. We tag each set of interview notes with department, location, and any other data relevant to the evaluation, but remove all specifically identifying information such as name or title.

Assessment reports are aggregations of the information gathered. We are looking for trends, patterns and inferences. The reports identify areas of success and risk and offer plans for addressing risks and concerns.

 

Findings

There were a number of areas for improvement. After discussion with the leadership team, we agreed to focus on two key areas; the interview process and leadership skills.

Interviews were based strongly on the bias of the interviewing team and varied wildly in candidate experience. Of equal importance, while internal referrals proved to be more successful hires, despite incentives the referrals were going down and the non-referral hires often didn't last more than a few months.

Most managers were first time managers. Almost all managers had limited experience. Many were excellent technical folks, promoted for the right reasons into the wrong role with no mentorship, guidance, or training. As a result, the entire organization was struggling.

 

Interview Process

Working in conjunction with Talent Development, Engineering Leadership, and members of the Engineering Team, we ran workshops to both educate team members on legal concerns, bias, and leading interview practices as well as to help them co-develop their own interview process.

They developed a standard rubric of technical questions, practiced experiential interviewing and open-ended questioning techniques, and devised their own recruitment funnel process along with expected SLAs for each stage. They moved from interviewing for specific teams to interviewing for the organization first.

New hire retention went up, the candidate experience even for those who were not hired improved dramatically, and in a post-engagement survey, employees indicated they were bringing in some of their strongest candidates ever.

 

Leadership Skills

This was a multi-faceted approach. Leadership cannot be taught as readily as interviewing skills.

First was the creation of a promotional track that provided individual contributors an opportunity to continue to grow their careers without forcing a jump to management. We then offered every existing manager a standing opportunity to move into an equivalent technical role. This option would remain open for the next six months. Managers could exercise the option, no questions asked.

Again working with Talent Development and leadership, we helped to build out a basic management curriculum covering leadership styles most effective for teams in the various stages of Tuckman's team development cycle as well as for individuals at the various stages of the Dreyfus skills acquisition model.

More significantly, we created a management peer group where managers met once per month to discuss a specific topic of concern or interest and to learn from one another and share ideas. This provided for shared learning and an opportunity for managers to coalesce on agreed leading practices.

Employee Survey Graph

Employee Survey Graph

Finally, we implemented a regular employee survey that measured key elements of the employee's engagement and satisfaction. The survey results were anonymous, but could be rolled up to managers and above so they could see how they were trending over time and to provide them a means of learning from other managers who were doing well in a particular area.

The survey was run approximately every eight weeks.

Several managers moved to the individual contributor track. Most who stayed in management roles saw dramatic improvement in their employee engagement scores. The management peer group ultimately played a part in not only approving those for promotion into management, but they created a mentoring and on-the-job training program that ensured continued success for those moved into such roles.